Meet Time Out's young chefs

Our Young Chef of the Year candidates introduce their menus

Dubai is fast establishing a distinct culinary reputation, thanks to the tireless work of the young, ambitious chefs who populate the city’s kitchens. To help them on their way to fame and fortune, Time Out has launched the Young Chef of the Year competition. Armed with a limited number of ingredients, four chefs under the age of 30 were chosen from hundreds of applicants, based on the strength of their recipes. They will now meet at the Miele Gallery on Sheikh Zayed Road on November 15, where they will each prepare a four-course meal, to be judged by our panel – Uwe Micheel, president of Emirates Culinary Guild; Scott Price, executive chef at Table 9; Becky Lucas, editor of Time Out Dubai, and Chef Sudu, certified WACS judge and executive chef at Traders Hotel – and you, Time Out readers, at the event. For tickets to the Time Out Young Chef of the Year 2011 event, click here.

Edward Mair
Age: 27
Nationality: British
Position: Chef de Cuisine, Al Qasr Hotel, Madinat Jumeirah

How long have you lived in Dubai?
Two years.

What is Dubai’s food scene missing?
Difficult question. I’ve never been stuck [for something to eat here], whether I’m going to the mall, the marina or even to Bur Dubai or Deira. There’s something for everybody.

Jamie Oliver – brilliant or annoying?
Brilliant from when he started as the Naked Chef – he prepared very simple dishes that were full of flavour. He makes it look easy so people are encouraged to have a shot at home. Also, the way he went about trying to change school dinners was very interesting.

What is your ambition?
I’ve got this crazy idea of opening a Western restaurant in China, and then to open a Chinese restaurant back home in Scotland – my wife is Chinese, which helps.

Tell us about the menu you’ll be preparing on November 15.
It shows a lot about where I come from, in terms of training and development; it shows shades of classical, but also the modern era.

For Edward Mair's menu, click here.

To meet chef Heru Perwanto, click here.

Name: Heru Perwanto
Age: 26
Nationality: Indonesian
Position: Chef de Partie, The Address Downtown Dubai

What inspired you to be a chef?
Live cooking competitions on TV – they suddenly made me connect with cooking and made me want to learn more.

What’s your favourite dish to cook?
I love cooking eggs. I like them because they’re simple yet have so many possibilities.

And to eat?

Who’s your favourite chef?
My favourite chef is my mum, because she’s the first person who taught me how to cook. She has an incredible flair for cooking.

When was the last time you ate fast food?
To be honest, it’s very rare that I go to places such as McDonald’s or KFC. They’re not good for your health and don’t taste particularly good either.

Tell us about the menu you’ll be preparing for the competition on November 15.
I created a menu with simple ingredients presented in a modern way – something different with a great taste.

For Heru Perwanto's menu, click here.

To meet chef Nicholas Chan, click here.

Name: Nicholas Chan
Age: 28
Position: Chef Tournant, The Westin Dubai

What inspired you to be a chef?
When I realised that food brings happiness and joy to people; plus the art of cooking inspires me.

What is Dubai’s food scene missing?
Authentic Asian cuisine. The Asian food here is good, but it still needs improvement.

Do you do all the cooking at home?
Sometimes, but I enjoy my wife’s cooking more.

What’s your favourite ingredient?
All types of mushroom – there are so many varieties and they all have unique flavours.

What is your all-time favourite restaurant?
The Cliff Restaurant at the Sentosa Resort and Spa in Singapore.

What does the menu that you’ll prepare on November 15 say about your personality?
It reflects who I am as a chef and some of the varying techniques I’ve learned over the years mixed with the traditional flavours I grew up with.

For Nicholas Chan's menu, click here.

To meet chef Wesley Berghoff, click here.

Name: Wesley Berghoff
Age: 27
South African
Position: Chef de Cuisine, Atlantis the Palm

How long have you been a chef?
Ten exciting years.

What’s your favourite dish to cook?
Any form of pasta or gnocchi dish. There are so many combinations, flavours and textures to play with, so it’s fun to cook and great to eat.

What’s your favourite ingredient and why?
It has to be butter – it can be used to cook anything, from sauces to meat or fish. Butter is rich golden goodness from the heavens!

Do you do all the cooking at home?
I love to cook, but we all know food tastes far better if someone else cooks for you, so my wife does the cooking (I usually make the coffee).

What is Dubai’s food scene missing?
Dubai has a really strong food scene, which I believe is always evolving. With so many young chefs and new restaurants trying to leave their mark on the culinary scene, Dubai is a very exciting place right now.

What moment in your career are you most proud of?
There are plenty of highlights – cooking for presidents and celebrities, for example – but I feel proud every time I put on my chef whites, so I’d have to say my proudest moment was the day I walked into my
first kitchen.

Tell us a little about the menu you’ll be preparing for the competition.
My menu uses several concepts based on international-style cuisine, with both classic and modern cooking techniques.

For Wesley Berghoff's menu, click here.

To meet chef Edward Mair, click here.

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