Yannick Alléno reveals why sustainability is on the menu

The French Michelin-starred chef talks new dishes at 101 Dining Lounge and Bar

Yannick Alléno reveals why sustainability is on the menu

Why do so many top chefs keep coming to Dubai? Well, because it’s the hub of the world, of course, or so says Michelin-star chef Yannick Alléno.

If anyone should know this it’s the French culinary master, who has travelled the globe on a gastronomic quest, honing his own cuisine to four-stars perfection.

It was on a recent trip to Venice that Alléno came across Damien Hirst’s Treasures From The Wreck Unbelievable exhibiton, an experience that inspired a new menu at 101 Dining Lounge and Bar.

“I need beauty around me to do things,” says Alléno when Time Out Dubai sits down with him at One&Only The Palm, where he oversees all of the restaurants.

“Artists love to eat and chefs love art. There’s a nice relationship between both. I love Damien Hirst and when I saw the exhibition in Venice I really felt something strong and deep.”

A six-month labour of love followed in which Yannick and his team developed the new menu, which focuses on sustainable seafood and includes the likes of “snaked lobster in the carcass” and “monkfish in printed herbs”.

Alléno is credited heavily for the reinvention of French Cuisine, and his three-star Alleno Paris was ranked 29th of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants.

And according to the chef, the Dubai dining scene only continues to grow stronger.

“I’ve been coming to Dubai for a very long time now and wow – such an evolution. In terms of food it’s crazy,” says Alléno.

“Generally speaking people like the ambiance, they love music and they love art. It’s a great destination to enjoy life. I think Dubai became the hub of the world.

“There are a lot of people from everywhere who come to Dubai. That’s why the (culinary) scene is so important.

“For me it’s fascinating. There was nothing here, it was a desert and it’s a fantastic idea. They built an amazing city and the food scene is very interesting.

“A lot of restaurants open and close, of course, but I think that the quality of the décor, the attention to the customer, the food, it’s very interesting.”

But with top restaurants comes stiff competition, and the Palm’s West Crescent in particular seems to be drawing in some big names with Massimo Bottura and Akira Back now open in W Dubai – The Palm a little further up the road.

“I was the first (in Dubai), after Gary Rhodes,” laughs Alléno. “Gary is a good friend of mine. We have a friendly rivalry but we love each other.

“It’s good to have those competitors around, it’s very important and in Dubai we have plenty of chefs in town keeping things very interesting.

“Of course (there’s a rivalry) when you have to fight and if you want to be the best you push – you push your team, you push your ideas, you push to be the best. Finally, it’s very good for the customers.”

So who’s his biggest competition? “I will take care of Massimo,” he laughs, in reference to the Italian chef who is behind the current Best Restaurant in the World.

And after 35 years in the business and nine years operating in Dubai, it’s easy to see where he gets his confidence from.

“I started cooking when I was 15 so I’ve had lots of time to get to know the fish,” says Alléno. “And sustainable seafood is very important to me.

“We’re taking a fish from the ocean so we really need to use all of it – the skin, the bones, the head, the eggs – the whole lot. It’s important to take care of the planet.”

The team then use age-old cooking techniques such as salting, smoking and fermentation to preserve the flavour and whip up something spectacular.

And like Alléno’s idol, Hirst, the food is something to be marvelled at, with artistic plating adding the final touch.

But appreciate its beauty while you can, if it tastes as good as it looks then it’s not going to last long on your plate.
Open daily 11.30am-2am. One&Only The Palm, Palm Jumeirah (04 440 1030).

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