Young chef: Christopher Graham

Executive sous chef from Atlantis, The Palm on cooking, competition and Christmas

Interview
Interview
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Fancy becoming a Time Out food critic for an evening? Then join us for a night of festive fine dining and help us in search for the city’s hottest young chef. You will be served a four-course festive meal cooked in front of a live audience – all you have to do is eat, drink and judge.

We caught up with contestant, Christopher Graham to find out more about his foodie style.

How long have you lived in Dubai?
I use to live here for five years but moved away for three. I’ve been back in Dubai for four months now.

What made you want to come out here?
The standard of hotels out here is just a lot higher than the rest of the world. You can do pretty much anything when it comes to events and set-ups. The standard of cooking and hospitality is on another level.

How long have you been a chef for?
For about fifteen years.

What inspired you to become a chef?
My dad is a chef so it was something that was always a natural progression. I’ve never thought of doing anything else. I just followed in his footsteps.

Do you have a culinary hero?
Not really. There are a lot of chefs I respect at the moment. Brett Graham, he’s one. Tom Aikens, he’s another great chef, and Jason Atherton is also a very good chef. In my opinion, they’re the top three British chefs.

What is your favourite dish to cook?
That’s a very broad question to ask a chef. I like cooking with seafood and fish; it’s very precise. It’s something you can mess up quite easily and takes precision and skill to cook it right.

What is the best thing about being a part of the Time Out Dubai Young Chef of the Year competition?
It’s a challenge and you can grow from a challenge and test your skills. It’s also a good laugh. I know some of the other chefs competing, so it’s a bit of friendly competition. A good experience in general.

Tell us about your menu?

Basically, my menu is a festive themed menu. The main course is obviously a turkey; it’s a deconstructed turkey Christmas dinner. Overall, it’s quite Christmassy.

How would you describe your temperament in the kitchen?

I get on with everybody – I respect my team and we have a good laugh. They’ll come to me if there’s a problem as I’m not the kind of guy who just dismisses them. I’m quite serious – work’s work and play’s play, but I’m not someone who’s going to start throwing things around and shouting.

Do you have a favourite restaurant here in Dubai?

That’s a difficult question. I’d say Reflets Par Pierre Gagnaire is quite a good restaurant out here. Al Mahara at the Burj Al Arab is also quite good.

Have you got a favourite place to eat cheaply? Street food?

Shawarmas! Everyone loves shawarmas in Dubai. That’s about as far as I go with street food.

Would you say Dubai’s food scene is lacking in anything?
Surprisingly, there are not as many fine dining restaurants as you’d think there would be. It’s not like the rest of the world. I think the food scene is a little overpriced in Dubai for what you get, but that’s understandable, because the produce comes from other places. But I don’t think there’s anything really lacking. There’s a good variety of places to go. It’s a bit like London.

See Christopher’s menu here and get your tickets for the Time Out Dubai Young Chef of the Year here.

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