Taste of Dubai

We ready our tastebuds for Dubai's latest culinary adventure, here's what's in store...

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What is Taste of Dubai?
The city’s top restaurants set up stalls and dish out samples of their signature dishes at cut-down prices, while celebrity chefs including Giorgio Locatelli, Gary Rhodes and Verre’s Matt Pickop perform cook-offs and give demos at the Mark Wilkinson Chefs’ Theatre. There is so much to do, and so much to eat, it’s hard to know where to start.

Highlights

Eat Dubai
Twenty two of Dubai’s best restaurants are selling their signature dishes at Dhs20, Dhs30 and Dhs40 a piece (about a 10th of the price of a sit-down meal). In a way, it’s as if they’re auditioning, just for you. Use this opportunity to decide which restaurants you want to visit next.

Matt Pickop V. Paul Lupton
Gary Rhodes and Gordon Ramsay play out their rivalry here in Dubai, as their executive chefs, Matt Pickop of Verre and Paul Lupton of Rhodes Mezzanine, duke it out on stage in a cook-off, which promises to get a little, well, heated. Definitely worth the Dhs50 entrance fee.

Star tips
Some of the world’s best chefs will be offering cooking tips throughout the festival. Our favourites include UK celebrities James Martin and Gary Rhodes, dreamy Italian Michelin-star holder Giorgio Locatelli and Indian celebrity Vineet Bhatia.

Hands-on practice
Spinneys Cookery School, where Dubai’s best and visiting celebrity chefs will teach mini courses, and where participants get to practise at live cooking stations. Personally, we’re eager to pick up some vegetarian cooking pointers from Magnolia’s Gabriele Kurz – finally, we’ll have something to serve our veggie friends at parties. We also can’t resist the possibility of learning how to make the perfect Mexican mole from Maya’s executive chef, Ruben Herrera.

The ins and outs of wine
Local sommeliers and experts are running lectures and blind tastes of wines, ciders and spirits from around the world. The courses are quick (a half hour), but they cover a lot of ground. What better way to learn the nuances of Spanish wines, or what qualities to look for in a good sauvignon blanc? They even have a course on which wines to pair at a barbecue.

For the kids
At the Kiddies’ Kitchen, children aged two to nine can decorate their own cookies and cupcakes (supplied by Sugar Daddy’s and Sprinklez Cupcakes). While parents explore the food grounds, the kids can also watch food-themed movies and TV shows in the ‘chill zone’. At Spinneys Cookery School, Greek chef Yiannis Baxevanis, from Elia, will host a special mini course for older kids. Why not have them put dinner on the table for a change?

Critic’s picks from the schedule Key
MWCT: Mark Wilkinson Chefs’ Theatre
SCS: Spinneys Cookery School
MMI: MMI Beverage Theatre

Wednesday, March 11
7.30pm-8pm James Martin (SCS)
8.30pm-9pm Spanish Wines (MMI)
9.15pm-9.45pm James Martin (MWCT)
10pm-10.30pm Vineet Bhatia (MWCT)
10.30pm-11pm Matthew Pickop (SCS)

Thursday, March 12
7.30pm-8pm Six affordable quality wines (MMI)
8.30pm-9pm Wines from Washington state (MMI)
9.30pm-10pm Beers and ciders of the world (MMI)
9.30pm-10pm Vegetarian cooking by Gabriele Kurz, Magnolia (SCS)
10.30pm James Martin (MWCT)
11.15pm-11.45pm Gary Rhodes (MWCT)

Friday, March 13
1.15pm-1.45pm Chefs challenge: Paul Lupton v. Matt Pickop (MWCT)
1.30pm-2pm Yiannis Baxevanis of Elia cooks for kids (SCS)
2pm-2.30pm Gary Rhodes (MWCT)
3.30pm-4pm French cooking by Axel Gode froid of Empire (SCS)
4.15pm-4.45pm Vineet Bhatia (MWCT)
4.30pm-5pm British cooking by Kelly Jackson of Rivington Grill (SCS)
7.30pm-8pm Indian cooking by Vineet Bhatia (SCS)
8.30pm-8.45pm Giorgio Locatelli (MWCT)
9.30pm-10pm The rise of Sauvignon Blanc: Wines of New Zealand (MMI)
10.30pm-11pm Thai cooking with Naruemol Poolkan of Benjarong (SCS)

Saturday, March 14
12.30pm-1pm Yiannis Baxevanis of Elia cooks for kids (SCS)
1pm-1.30pm Riesling and Asian food: A perfect match (MMI)
1.30pm-2pm Italian cooking by Simon Apollonio of Certo (SCS)
2pm-2.30pm Single malts & Irish whiskey (MMI)
1.45pm-2pm Chefs challenge: Paul Lupton v. Matt Pickop (MWCT)
2.30pm-3pm British cooking with Chris Letser of Rivington Grill
3.30pm-4pm Mexican cooking with Ruben Herrera of Maya
3.45pm-4pm Giorgio Locatelli (MWCT)
4pm-4.30pm BBQ wines (MMI)
8.15pm-8.45pm Gary Rhodes (MWCT)
8.30pm-9pm Sake and sochu session (MMI)
9.30pm-10pm New wave Chile & Argentina: Explaining the hype (MMI)
9pm-9.30pm Giorgio Locatelli (MWCT)

Critics’ picks

Not sure which of the 60-plus signature dishes on offer to try? Here are our favourites:

Zuma’s Chilli fried squid with lime

Verre’s marinated salmon with crème fraiche and Baerri caviar and chilled tomato jus

Signature’s crispy chestnut dumplings

Rivington Grill’s Eton mess

Rhodes Mezzanine white tomato soup

Ottoman’s slow cooked beef eye

Maya’s hammour ceviche

Indego’s chocolate samosa

Elia’s lamb with yialoradika

Almaz by Momo’s pigeon pastille

Taste of Dubai, Mar 11-14, Media City Amphitheatre, Dhs50 entrance fee. For full schedule, visit www.tasteofdubai09.com

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