Chef Izu Ani has left La Serre Bistro & Boulangerie and has plans to open a research and development hub in Dubai.
The Nigerian-born chef who grew up in London, first came to Dubai to launch La Petite Maison and in 2012 opened La Serre, a French/ Mediterranean concept, which today is the most successful restaurant in Emaar Hospitality’s portfolio.
In an interview with Catering News Middle East, Ani said: “I want to evolve the culture not just take from it, so that’s why I’d love to do a research and development hub where the creativity has no limits or boundaries. We can strive to set a mark and be part of the community.”
The R&D hub will be located within a villa and will include an educational aspect where children and adults will come to learn about food. However, Ani is clear that it will not be a consultancy.
“I have to impart my knowledge to the younger generations. If I can change one kid’s perspective on how to eat I’ve done my job. I want to put a structure in place so that whoever is yearning to understand a bit more about what we do, please come, I want to share what I know.”
Ani is also looking to revolutionise the way cooking classes are done in Dubai, with the aim of teaching people to understand food rather than copy recipes.
He comments: “In the future we’ll give cooking classes but in a professional way. It’s not that you come in to learn a recipe, it’s that you come in to understand a product. If I teach you how to understand a tomato, you can use it in any way, because you’re not following something, you’re being a part of something and that’s the key.”
In addition to the educational element, Ani will run a chef’s table, which opens on an ad-hoc basis with no menu and very limited seating.
He also wants to run a boulangerie within the building, commenting: “There will be elements in the villa that will be broken up into research and development for bakery and pastry.”
In addition, the chef will have a greenhouse to grow his own fresh produce, and a test lab in the restaurant where he will trial new recipes and menu concepts.
“It’s not a gimmicky place, I’m researching things, I’m trying to understand more. I’ve just done the food, but then there’s the culture behind the food and some days I’ll let you see what I’m doing, I’ll allow you to come and taste it. Or if I’m doing a concept for a new restaurant down the road, I’ll tell you to come and try some of the food we’re going to be doing, or the new ideas we’re thinking of.”
Ani left La Serre on 21 April and will embark on a research trip throughout Asia during May before returning to Dubai to continue setting up his new venture.
The research and development hub is scheduled to open before the end of 2016.