Time Out Dubai Young Chef of the Year - finalists

Time Out Dubai is the authority on the best restaurants in Dubai. Here we celebrate the men behind the stove; introducing the best young chefs in Dubai

Time Out Dubai's Young Chef of the Year takes place Wednesday December 16 at Park Hyatt Dubai. Tickets cost Dhs395 for four courses and house beverages. To have one of the best chefs in Dubai cook for you, visit Platinum List.
Tom Hammond

28, sous chef at the Rivington Grill


Tell us about yourself.
I was 16 when I started at Westminster Kingsway College in London, studying NVQ level 1,2,3 and diploma in culinary arts. While there, I got my first professional job, working at L’Escargot by Marco Pierre White, and picking up work experience at The Ritz and Savoy hotels in London. Next, I took a role at Hever Castle in Kent, working on its events and banqueting team. Shortly after that, I worked at The Ivy in London, run by Caprice Holdings – which Rivington Grill is also a part of. I moved to Dubai a few years back. Since then, I’ve been promoted, and was recently named Pro Chef Middle East’s Junior Chef of the Year.

Who are your culinary idols?
Marco Pierre White and Auguste Escoffier. White for his influence on modern cooking, morals, beliefs about chefs and the kitchen brigade – and of course his individuality and honest opinions. Escoffier for his recipes, techniques and approaches to kitchen management, which are still highly influential today, and have been adopted by chefs and restaurants long after his time.

What would you say is your signature dish?
I wouldn’t say I have one – styles change all the time. I just like to cook with simple flavours and the best ingredients available on the market.

Describe your style of cooking in three words.
Seasonal, simple and tasty.

What are your tactics for the Young Chef competition?
I’m just going to keep it simple and effective, and give the best that I can.

What would be your perfect last meal?
A good English fry-up in a traditional greasy spoon cafeteria. Or some of my mum’s cooking.

Not counting your own restaurant, where is your favourite place to eat in Dubai?
I’m not that knowledgeable about the cuisine, but I love Japanese food and sushi. When I first came to Dubai I loved Zuma, for the atmosphere, food and service. I’ve had many special occasions there with family.

Hammond’s menu
Starter
Seared scallop and smoked trout, celeriac mash, pickled fennel apple, heirloom beetroot and organic radish

Soup
Clay and hay-baked quail and veal bacon, turkey farce Brussels with chicken consommé

Main course
Braised beef short ribs, confit pink garlic and potato purée, heirloom carrots with a date and chestnut jus

Dessert
Dark chocolate and mascarpone cheesecake with cranberries

Riccardo Bacciottini

25, sous chef at Marina Social

Tell us about yourself.
I’ve always been attracted to Michelin-star kitchens, and in my career so far have worked with a few starred chefs. Thanks to my work, I’ve visited a few different countries. My first experience abroad was in Paris, where I learned basic bakery. I then moved to London, where I had my biggest Michelin-star experiences [in maze by Gordon Ramsay and Social Eating House] before moving to the UAE. My experiences have shaped me as both a chef and a man.

Who are your culinary idols?
Gualtiero Marchesi – his simple style revolutionised Italian kitchens.

What would you say is your signature dish?
Traditional Italian dishes, with game.

Describe your style of cooking in three words.
Simple, tasty, rustic.

What are your tactics for the Young Chef competition?
Just creating my idea of simple food.

What would be your perfect last meal?
Rare T-bone steak, cooked Fiorentina-style, with friends.

Not counting your own restaurant, where is your favourite place to eat in Dubai?
Pots, Pans & Boards by Tom Aikens.

Bacciottini’s menu
Starter
Marinated scallop, smoked trout, beetroot and apple, lemon purée, chia croutons, horseradish and yoghurt foam

Soup
Pine-smoked quail, “tea and toast”

Main course
Braised beef short rib, bone marrow, parsnip, crispy beef tendons

Dessert
Roasted chestnut mousse, sticky toffee and date pudding, sun-choke ice-cream

Steven Peter

29, executive sous chef, JW Marriott Marquis Dubai


Tell us about yourself.
I started my career in 2002 in a small town in Germany where I did my apprenticeship. In 2006 I moved to Dubai with the aim of getting one to two years’ international experience, but ended up staying for nine years! I had the chance to work at and manage Pierchic, followed by running the main operation in Al Qasr. I’ve also worked in The Fat Duck – a three Michelin-star restaurant in the UK, owned by Heston Blumenthal. Since 2014, I have been in charge of 14 restaurants and bars in the JW Marriott Marquis Dubai.

Who are your culinary idols?
My idols are genuinely all the motivated, senior chefs here in Dubai because they still consider what food is for, instead of just drawing a picture on the plate without flavour.

What would you say is your signature dish?
Pan-fried halibut with Wagyu short rib ravioli, salsify, shellfish foam and Thermidor sauce.

Describe your style of cooking in three words.
Modern, traditional, flavourful.

What are your tactics for the Young Chef competition?
Do what you do best, and still have fun.

What would be your perfect last meal?
Dinner at Noma in Denmark – ranked as the San Pellegrino Best Restaurant in the World multiple times.

Not counting your own restaurant, where is your favourite place to eat in Dubai?
Toko in Downtown.

Peter’s menu
Starter
Pan-fried scallops, smoked trout coquette, green pea purée, horseradish-mascarpone macaroon, beetroot crisp

Soup
Oxtail consommé, pan-fried quail breast, short rib angelotti, compressed heirloom tomatoes

Main course
Slow-cooked turkey breast and leg, Brussels sprouts, parsnip purée, red cabbage jam, confit truffle potatoes, turkey crackling

Dessert
Festive chocolate sphere, strawberry-rhubarb carpaccio, pana cotta, marquis crème, chocolate sand

John Buenaventura

30, chef de cuisine, Seafire Steakhouse


Tell us about yourself.
I entered the industry at 18, in the Philippines. After two years of culinary studies, I worked at different hotels, landing in Dubai in 2007, working as a commis and part of the pre-opening team at the InterContinental Dubai Festival City. From there, I worked at Four Seasons Resort in the Maldives, Fire & Ice Steakhouse in Raffles Dubai, Monte Carlo Beach Club in Abu Dhabi and Fairmont The Palm in Dubai, eventually landing where I am now, at Atlantis The Palm.

Who are your culinary idols?
Nobody in particular, but I try to get bits and pieces of inspiration from other chefs, and mould them into my own cuisine. Chef Mauro Colagreco’s inspiring combinations and attention to detail, Paul Pairet’s ultraviolet dining concept, Ferran Adrià’s passion and creativity, Mario Batali’s wit, costume and funky attitude, Jamie Oliver for opening people’s eyes to healthy food… the list goes on and on!

What would you say is your signature dish?
I don’t really have one. I try to make my dishes a “signature” every time I innovate or create something new.

Describe your style of cooking in three words.
Straightforward, fresh, sensual.

What are your tactics for the Young Chef competition?
My inner good chef says, I will simply cook my heart out and wish my competitors luck. My inner bad chef says, I will treat my competitors like steaks – I’ll grill them and eat them.

What would be your perfect last meal?
Traditional Filipino breakfast, made by my mother and shared with family and friends in a mountain lodge, early in the morning. Traditional coffee, garlic rice, fried egg, fresh corned beef hash, grilled sausage, pandesal bread, butter and pickled young papaya.

Not counting your own restaurant, where is your favourite place to eat in Dubai?
Din Tai Fung for xiao long bao, Tom & Serg for the Cubano and coffee.

Buenaventura’s menu
Starter
Quail roulade, turkey stuffing, crispy poached egg, smoked parsnip purée, braised red cabbage, Brussels sprouts and cranberry gel

Soup
Sea consommé, black scallop and smoked trout pillow, fresh fennel, semi-dried tomatoes, Salicornia, paprika crisp

Main course
Slow-cooked short rib, smoked celeriac gratin, kale purée, pickled heirloom carrots and beets, veal bacon sticks, truffle salt and jus

Dessert
Date fondant, nitro-cinnamon ice-cream, dark chocolate, Yemeni honeycomb, cranberry compote, rhubarb gel, torched cashew meringue

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