New year, new menu

5 top Dubai chefs explain their new signature dishes of 2011

Lamb shank with kalamata risotto at Fire & Ice
Lamb shank with kalamata risotto at Fire & Ice
Canadian lobster with grilled prawn at Fire & Ice
Canadian lobster with grilled prawn at Fire & Ice
Chef Josh Kucharick at Fire & Ice
Chef Josh Kucharick at Fire & Ice
Sardines in olive oil, garlic and parsley at Vivaldi
Sardines in olive oil, garlic and parsley at Vivaldi
Chef Daniele Bolognesi at Vivaldi
Chef Daniele Bolognesi at Vivaldi
Smoked salmon sandwich at More
Smoked salmon sandwich at More
Chef Gert Bredenhann at More Café
Chef Gert Bredenhann at More Café
Chicken and pineapple dumplings at Ping Pong
Chicken and pineapple dumplings at Ping Pong
Chef Wu Guo Song at Ping Pong
Chef Wu Guo Song at Ping Pong
Cooked egg with parsnip truffle oil at Traiteur
Cooked egg with parsnip truffle oil at Traiteur
Chef Franck Detrait at Traiteur
Chef Franck Detrait at Traiteur
1/11

As well as throwing lavish parties, many of Dubai’s restaurants are welcoming 2011 by launching new, innovative menus. But there’s more to a new menu than change for the sake of change – there are several factors that have to be taken into consideration by a chef and their team. The taste of Dubai’s ethnically diverse dining community, for one; then there’s keeping ahead of the competition. And then there’s the team itself.Changing the menu every two weeks doesn’t just confuse guests – it also works your staff into the kitchen floor. With these in mind, we talked to five very different chefs to find out what went in to making their new menu, the motivation behind each meal and which dishes we should look out for.

Chef Josh Kucharick at Fire & Ice
The concept
‘No matter where you are in the world, if you change your menu less than four times [a year], you’re really not doing justice to what the world has to offer. I just ordered in some beautiful, beautiful white truffles, so I have to utilise them on my menu – and that means everything changes. Every month you have an ingredient that’s intriguing that’s actually at the peak of perfection, and it needs to be used. So there’s no point in running it for a week when you can run it for as long as it’s good. Then if something even better comes up, you change it the next month. You use whatever’s available at that time.’

Chef’s pick
‘We’ll have some more composed dishes for the new year. We have a wonderful product from Western Australia, called Q Lamb. It goes really well as a main course – it’s a really wintery, hearty dish for people who visit the restaurant and don’t necessarily want steak. I love shank – you can’t go wrong with a braised lamb shank, some nice kalamata risotto with a little bit of rocket, and finished with a fig jus. It’s very simple. As for appetisers we’ll put together a lovely butter-poached Canadian lobster, asparagus salpicon and grilled prawn with home-made tortellini, stuffed with Roma tomato and radish fondue.’
Raffles Dubai, Oud Metha (04 324 8888)

Chef Daniele Bolognesi at Vivaldi
The concept
‘Sustainability. If I had to describe my menu in three words, it would be fresh, colourful and sustainable. The world we live in is growing so fast – I’m a father, and my children should have the chance to enjoy things that we’ve started to take for granted. We’re trying to use local and seasonal [produce] on our menu, although it can be difficult because many customers are used to certain items. Little by little, however, I think we can teach them. I’ve changed 20 out of 49 items on the menu. We still offer hammour, but there’s a note on the menu telling guests what we’re trying to do. The menu has been created by [my] heart and mind. I wanted to make sustainable as well as classical Italian food – exposing my culture, without being damaging.’

Chef’s pick
‘The dish that has been well received is warm salad of sea bream on zucchini ribbons and asparagus in a butter sauce. To begin with, many people thought this was the main course – we bring it to the table on a sizzling a hot plate. People aren’t expecting it, but they are discovering something different, which is what we want!’
Sheraton Dubai Creek Hotel & Towers, Deira (04 207 1717)

Chef Gert Bredenhann at More Café
The concept
‘We want to highlight healthy choices, so we introduced information into our existing menu that enables people to select low-fat dishes that have a low glycaemic index (GI) and are low in cholesterol. More also employs a nutritionist, who has identified and categorised these dishes – they are highlighted on the menu with a signature “jolly O”.’

Chef’s pick
‘I love the smoked salmon sandwich, served with More’s ‘care’ bread, low-fat cream cheese and a side salad with balsamic vinaigrette. The home-made care bread is low in cholesterol, has a low GI [meaning slow-burning carbs], is high in fibre and low in sodium. The bread is made with ingredients such as oat flour, psyllium husk, wholewheat flour and arrowroot, and is high in omega three oils. Then there’s the spinach pumpkin salad, a delicate flavour of baby spinach leaves and honey-roasted pumpkin, served with low-fat, low-sodium feta. It’s dressed with house balsamic vinaigrette.’
Garhoud (04 283 0224) and locations across Dubai, www.morecafe.biz

Chef Wu Guo Song at Ping Pong
The concept
‘When Ping Pong changes its menu, it’s coordinated across four locations – Brazil, USA, England and Dubai. This menu is called our autumn collection and it runs until June 2011. We change the menu twice a year. Our master chef in London creates a catalogue which all the Ping Pong restaurants take from. [However], we also have to match market demands – in Dubai we have a very high Indian clientele that we have to cater for. Also, in the UAE we don’t use pork – pork is a big item in Chinese cooking, so we use lamb, duck and other items instead. We have comments cards on each table, which many people take the time to fill out. We take this feedback seriously in terms of service and dish recommendations. There are certain things that people often ask for – typical Chinese food such as chicken’s feet that we don’t usually do – but it helps us understand what people are looking for.’

Chef’s choice
‘We have chicken, pineapple and lemongrass dumplings on a pastry that includes sesame seeds. It’s sweet and sour because of the pineapple, which sums up Chinese [culinary] culture – sweet and sour, yin and yang. Then there’s the crispy golden fish dumpling. The uniqueness of this dish is thanks to the flavour released on the back of your palate.’
The Dubai Mall, Downtown Burj Khalifa (04 339 9088)

Chef Franck Detrait at Traiteur
The concept
‘We change our menu roughly every three months, because we always aim to make the most of the produce that’s in season. When you look at Traiteur’s menu, you will always find classic French favourites such as sole meunière, filet de boeuf rossini and escargots, among others. But at the same time, you’ll see dishes that have my personal touch and style imprinted on them. For instance, combining scallops with Comté cheese, potatoes, walnut oil and black truffle is not considered ‘usual’ in culinary terms. The ingredients are not necessarily considered natural pairs. However, they work together seamlessly, and when you take a bite of this dish you can really taste that wonderful burst in flavours.’

Chef’s choice
‘Cooked egg with mashed parsnip-flavour truffle oil. This dish is so special because it challenges me to work with a very accessible and common ingredient (egg) alongside a rare delicacy: truffle or truffle oil. These ingredients don’t normally go hand in hand, but by combining them the right way, it just works. There’s also the roast scallops filled with Comté cheese, and crushed potato with walnut oil and black truffle. This dish is fantastic as scallops are in prime season at the moment. Coming from France, Comté cheese is a typical French ingredient that I really like to use because I feel it enhances the other ingredients it is paired with. Scallops and Comté cheese are not expected to work together, but they really do. All you need is to try this dish to really grasp where I’m coming from.’
Park Hyatt Dubai, Deira (04 317 2222)

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