The first Dubai Food Festival

Plus more eating out news from across the emirate

Eric Lanlard
Eric Lanlard
John Torode
John Torode

We get fired up for a festival of food fun, revel in sustainable fish news, and take our life into our... chopsticks.

January has been a riot for fashionistas and shopaholics alike thanks to the annual Dubai Shopping Festival. But listen up foodies, because this year it is our turn, with the first ever (and intended to be annual) Dubai Food Festival kicking off in February. Running from Friday February 21 through to Saturday March 15, the festival will span several of our best-known food events (Gulfood, Taste of Dubai), with a host of new, inaugural events thrown in for good measure. The first ever Dubai Food Carnival begins on February 21, with two days of family-friendly fun in Festival City.

The carnival will welcome Dubai restaurants, spanning Hakkasan to Mandilicious, to showcase signature dishes from the menu, or even show off some special skills, with Hakkasan’s head chef demonstrating some sharp-as-a-samurai knife skills. In addition to a chilli-eating contest and an amateur cook-off for dads, the carnival will also be hosting celebrity guest chefs, such as Time Out Dubai Young Chef judge Silvena Rowe, Masterchef UK judge John Torode, Indian entrepreneur Sanjeev Kapoor and Fatafeat TV channel star chef Mohammed Orfali.

Also new to the gourmet schedule is The Big Grill. Taking place at Emirates Golf Club on February 27-28 it will feature a feast of grilling, served up by a range of chefs from across Dubai, a barbecue championship (dubbed the ‘King of the Grill’ competition), plus a host of live music, entertainment and DJ sets.

Bringing the nearly month-long foodie fun to a close is the yearly Taste of Dubai, from Thursday March 13-15 in Dubai Media City. In the line-up announced to date, French superstar chefs are ruling the roost, with Eric Lanlard (pastry chef to the queen of pop, Madonna) returning to Dubai for the event and joining chef Jean Christophe Novelli on the programme. There are also plenty of new restaurants joining in this year’s event, including Almaz by Momo, Café Habana, Magnolia Bakery, The Act, Emporio Armani Caffe, Burj Al Hammam, St.Tropez Bistro and Ewaan.

As if that wasn’t enough to kick-start your palette, there are more titbits of news for you. Ethical eaters will be pleased to hear that there is a new sustainable seafood chain from California, USA, due to open in Dubai. Slapfish will launch its first UAE outlet at Ibn Battuta Mall in May.

We’ve also learnt that if you’re a thrill-seeker, you can now get your adrenaline-rush on a plate, with a fate-tempting dish of fugu (or puffer fish). You can try this infamous Japanese delicacy with a Russian roulette twist, at Umai in The Oberoi Dubai, but prepared by a fugu-qualified chef (in case you’ve seen too many episodes of The Simpsons).

Until next week, bon appétit!

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