So, Rhodes Mezzanine wins best contemporary and best overall restaurant of the year. How does that make you feel?
What can I say? This is a chef’s dream. To win an award of this stature, when there are so many restaurants in Dubai, it means a lot. I’d heard of other people winning it, like Gordon Ramsay, and I thought it would be something we would always work towards but did I think we’d ever achieve it? No. I’m over the moon.
What do you think impressed the judges the most?
Well, the MC mentioned our consistency. I’ve always said to my sons and to anyone who works for me that consistency in any walk of life is the key to success. If you set a standard, you have to maintain it.
You have a new restaurant opening later this year, Twenty10. How is it different from Mezzanine?
Yes, we’re opening Twenty10 at Le Royal Meridien and we’re really excited about it. There was a prime rib room before. This is not going to be just a grill room and it’s not trying to be a fine dining restaurant either – it’s going to meet in the middle and hopefully please all.
You’ve gone and called it Twenty10. Without wanting to worry you any, isn’t there a real chance you have to rename it next year?
[Laughs] Well, it’s written Twenty, then 10 in digits – we wanted to separate it from just being the year date. If it only lasts one year I’m out of a job!
What do you think of Dubai’s restaurant scene at the moment?
I think Dubai has the potential to become the culinary capital of the world – I really do believe that. Look at all the great chefs here: Pierre Gagnaire, Giorgio Locatelli, Marco Pierre White, Gordon Ramsay – all these people want to become part of such a great, great city. Here we are in the middle of the world, sending out a huge message to everyone: ‘Dubai is the place that’s going to happen, just you wait and see’.
Great to hear! Speaking of Gordon, last time we spoke to him he said you were a dinghy compared to his ocean liner. Any response?
Actually Gordon and I get on very well; we have a great amount of respect for each other. Gordon is a three Michelin-starred chef, he is undoubtedly one of the best chefs in the world at the moment, and I can’t hear a bad word said against him. What he says and does are two different things: what he does is very special. What he says, I ignore!
I don’t know if you know this, but you have a reputation for taking your top off in public. Is that going to happen tonight?
I promise it’s not going to happen tonight! Do I have a reputation? Really? I’m quite embarrassed! In fact I’ve had this personal trainer helping me out over the past couple of days and my arms ache; he showed me new ways to exercise and it was great fun. I love being in the gym – it’s not that I want to be Arnie, I’m not built like that – but it sets me up psychologically for a 12-15 hour day’s work.
Are you going to give the gym a miss tomorrow and celebrate tonight?
Oh no, no, no – I’m still going to be in that gym because it gives me something to celebrate! But perhaps I won’t get up quite so early tomorrow.
To see the complete video version of this interview, head to www.timeoutdubai.com.