Dubai boasts some fantastic restaurants, many of which have been established by the biggest names in the industry. The downside of our desert location, however, means nearly all food has to be imported from abroad. But does the fact that much of what we eat has been in transit for at least a couple of days affect the city’s burgeoning culinary scene? Time Out posed this question to chef Stéphane Gaborieau, who visits Dubai on October 3.
‘I don’t honestly think so,’ says Stéphane, who is currently head chef at Michelin-starred Le Pergolèse in Paris. ‘Logistics and transport have become so efficient over the years that you can get anything fresh from anywhere, any time – providing you know the right contacts and suppliers. I heard from Christophe, the executive chef at Dubai’s Al Bustan Rotana, that they have food delivered fresh twice a week from abroad. These days everyone imports, even in France, so I don’t think having it grown locally or buying it from other countries makes that much of a difference to the culinary masterpieces chefs serve.’
Stéphane explains that as long as produce is stored correctly and transported efficiently, there will be negligible difference in taste. However, he points out that baby vegetables such as carrots, fennel and squash travel particularly well, as does (somewhat surprisingly) fish, if packaged, stored and handled correctly. Other well-travelled foods include truffles, fresh and wild mushrooms, and scallops.
So what can Dubai’s diners expect from Stéphane’s visit? He’ll be demonstrating his culinary expertise at The Rodeo Grill at Al Bustan Rotana from October 3-7, as part of the hotel’s ‘Six Months of Gastronomic Excellence’ programme, which will bring six Michelin-starred chefs to Dubai. He hopes to make his mark with a series of fresh and distinctly flavourful dishes. ‘Food is not just a mere combination of ingredients,’ he says wistfully. ‘It has to be done with great passion – your goal is to translate a strong impressive gastronomic message to each guest that will taste your culinary creation.’ Stéphane will share his culinary techniques at a cooking class on Wednesday October 6 from 10am to noon at Al Bustan Rotana. There is also a gala dinner on Thursday October 7, priced at Dhs495. For details, call 04 282 0000
Stéphane’s pick of the tastiest foods to order in October
‘You can get fresh scallops anywhere in France at this time of year, and because of this there are plenty available in Dubai. This is the best time to get scallops, because the flesh tends to be firmer and whiter during this time of the year. I love my scallops pan-fried and mixed with parsnip crew and herb juice, which will make for a very nice entrée.’
‘Pigeon is abundant in France around this time – during autumn, pigeon meat tends to be very soft and tender because of the birds’ age. Anybody can prepare pigeon by roasting it naturally with their favourite spices.’
‘This fish is in season now in the Mediterranean region. It has a very delicate texture, which you can use in any fish dish. I usually sear it and place it on top of a parcel made of aubergine and mozzarella cheese.’
‘Morels or morchella (wild mushrooms) grow abundantly in France’s forests during autumn. This mushroom is very versatile; you can toss it in any dish for a distinct flavour, or you can pan-fry it with a little salted butter and top it with farm-fresh poached egg, tangy parmesan cream and crispy pomme paille (potatoes) for a really nice treat.’
‘Lobsters are fantastic at this time of year, especially those from Brittany and the Middle East – I’ve heard Omani lobsters are very good. Nothing can beat baked lobster, eaten with home-made crusty bread topped with baby vegetables and olive spread.’