To recognise more than 20 years of service to Dubai’s culinary scene, Andy Cuthbert was presented with the Outstanding Contribution award at Time Out Dubai’s Restaurant Awards 2013 (View the rest of the winners here). Australian-born Cuthbert arrived in Dubai in January 1992 to work in the kitchen at the Hilton hotels – the same year he joined the Emirates Culinary Guild, an organisation he has now chaired for 12 years. His work with the Guild has helped to train UAE chefs that have gone on to receive awards at international competitions. He also led the organisation of the UAE’s own biggest chef competition, the Emirates Salon Culinaire, and is an integral member of the team for the World Congress of Chefs. Having been with the Jumeirah Group since 2000, 49-year-old Andy has worked at Jumeirah Bab Al Shams, Jumeirah Emirates Towers and the Madinat Jumeirah, and has overseen events looking after more than 5,000 guests.
How does it feel to be recognised by Time Out?
I’ve been here 21 years and to be honoured for what I’ve done is a very pleasant surprise and a great honour. I got a bit of a shock – when they started to talk about me up on stage, but hadn’t yet announced my name, the guys at the back stood up and started clapping when they realised. There were so many people in the room I work with or have worked with, it was quite touching.
How has the city changed in that time?
When I came here there were just a few hotels by the creek, and then there was Jebel Ali which was so far away it was a day trip, and that was it. There were five or six good restaurants; now there are hundreds. I used to go to the Thai Terrace in Karama – I still do and the menu hasn’t changed once.
Where are the best restaurants today?
Ronda Locatelli. I still love the Thai Terrace. I love Tokyo@The Towers in Jumeirah Emirates Towers. I love eating a good kebab in Satwa. Favourite restaurant? I have many – look at the size of me.
As someone who judges culinary competitions, what makes a good chef?
Someone who’s willing to work hard and has the selfdiscipline to consistently create the same dishes every day. And also a touch of creativity – at the end of the day, chefs are artists.
What’s the strangest situation you’ve been in while in the line of duty?
I was once tasked with lifting some camels onto a barge. I was in charge of an event to open Dubai Shopping Festival about ten years ago and there was a ‘heritage village’ on a barge in a creek. The camels didn’t want to go on the barge and I was driving a truck to take them on board, but there was nothing we could do to get them on the truck.