Celebrating the celebrity

The recent spate of celebrity chefs visiting the region is certainly helping to raise the profile of the Middle East as a culinary destination. Of course, Gordon Ramsay was the first such chef to come to Dubai, sticking his neck on the line to open a restaurant in the emirate. But he is the first to admit that if Verre hadn’t been as successful as it was, he wouldn’t be opening restaurants across the globe today

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By  Laura Barnes Published  June 1, 2006

The recent spate of celebrity chefs visiting the region is certainly helping to raise the profile of the Middle East as a culinary destination. Of course, Gordon Ramsay was the first such chef to come to Dubai, sticking his neck on the line to open a restaurant in the emirate. But he is the first to admit that if Verre hadn’t been as successful as it was, he wouldn’t be opening restaurants across the globe today.

One of the biggest events in the culinary calendar this year had to be last month’s Festival of Taste, a six-day feast that played host to eight of the world’s top chefs. Organised by the Jumeirah Group, getting any of these chefs to participate was no mean feat, let alone bringing them to Dubai at the same time, well, nearly all at the same time!

With a line up including Michel ‘The Godfather’ Roux, Gary Rhodes, Jean-Christophe Novelli, Hans Haas, Yannick Alleno, Sam Leong, Ben Sisley and James Martin; Willi Elsener and the team at Jumeirah should be proud. The event was well organised and, talking to people at the different events, there was nothing but praise from diners and guests.

I attended Jean-Christophe Novelli’s connoisseur evening at Villa Beach and was amazed at the staff’s knowledge of the dishes, which were provided by Novelli specially for the event. The food was exquisite and Novelli made sure that each table was able to spend a little time with him throughout the evening. And I have no doubt that the other chefs also put on an excellent display in the different outlets they were stationed at.

This event seems to be a taster for things to come in Dubai. Among the catering world there are mutings of Nobu restaurant setting up shop, as well as talk of Giorgio Locatelli interested in opening a restaurant here. In two years time there will also be Petrus and Ramsay looks set to venture onto the Palm as well.

However, the hottest news on the grapevine is that Gary Rhodes is all set to come to Dubai. Although his first priority is to see the successful opening of his restaurant in Dublin, he told me to watch this space… so who knows, he could be moving into a House near you soon!

Novelli is also keen not to get left behind and was approached by six different hotels during his visit, so who knows where he may go? Although I have been assured personally that Caterer will be the first to know. Make sure you keep reading.

The catering industry really does seem to be making waves in the region, and international world famous chefs are just starting to sit up and take note. I for one can’t wait to see how it will develop, and I’m sure every chef out there is just as eager.

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