Cluster executive chef at Radisson Blu Dubai Waterfront and Dubai Canal Views Adam Tracey explains why Firelake is going to be one of the hottest spots in Dubai…
Tell us about the concept of your restaurant? Born in Minnesota, FireLake Grill & Cocktail Bar combines the best mid-west traditions of open-flame cooking and the art of cocktail creation. Here it’s all about the flavour of the flame using the same techniques practised for centuries: as many of our dishes as possible are wood, flame-cooked or smoked, our cocktails are barrel-aged and our beers hand-crafted!
What were the major challenges in getting to this point? Of course we have had the normal challenges of an opening; finding the right people, getting the right equipment, managing design and fit out and getting our operating equipment delivered and in place! We then have to bring together the menu creation for food and drink, engage our people in detailed training and start to deliver the right message through press and social media!
Explain the menu concept… The concept is casual modern American with a touch of locality! The culture and style of the food is deeply rooted in North America but with touches that are closer to home. We have made use of regional flavors where possible so expect to see lots of smoked and flame grilled dishes coupled together with locally inspired ingredients such as sumac, coriander, chickpeas and yoghurt. The menu has been designed with sharing in mind, using simple flavors with skilled, gutsy cooking, creating food that people want to eat…
What experiences/ influences do you draw on for your menu creation? Travelling and eating in restaurants that are a similar style to yours is always inspiring and something I love to do… We have done a lot of research locally in what works and what doesn’t and together with my time spent travelling in the US we have created an authentic but approachable dining experience. When we look at developing menus we start with a base idea and evolve it from there… Sometimes a small change, a different way of cooking, small touch on a dish or particular use of an ingredient stimulates an idea and that’s all it takes to put together the right offer
What is your hero dish/ signature item on the menu? We think the sticky lamb ribs with smokey guajillio chilli, the US Omaha Prime steaks served on the bone and our coal roasted lamb rump with charred hispi cabbage, sumac yoghurt & pomegranate are going to be the stars!
What advice would you give chefs starting out in this region? Take your time and learn your craft! One of the biggest challenges in the region is over promotion, chefs desire to progress is usually financially driven and the result is that you have Chef De Parties’ and Sous Chefs who don’t have the ability to effectively do the level of role that they have. My advice is to work for reputable companies that can put a training and development plan in place for you, move around to gain experience rather than additional money, show passion and enthusiasm and learn everything you can, your career will take care of itself from there!
Which restaurants do you view as your peers? Maine Oyster Bar & Grill, Claw BBQ and The Hide at the Madinat.
What suppliers do you work with? Chef Middle East have helped us to source US prime Omaha beef, we are working with Fresh Express for fish and seafood and we are taking local greens and herbs from Greenheart Farms. The most important thing is creating working relationships; we have actively worked to reduce our quantity of suppliers and creating bigger inventories to enable us to work more closely on supply and cost.
What are the most challenging items to source? Everything is available here now and we haven’t struggled in terms of sourcing, and that’s a real positive for the UAE. Because of the import heavy nature in this part of the world, the cost of produce is always a challenge and we, of course, want to have the best quality ingredients on our plates and to be able to sell dishes at a competitive price. This again comes down to relationships with suppliers, working closely with them on new and innovative products and allowing them to gain an understanding of what your needs and specific requirements are.
How do you see the menu evolving going forward? The key for me in evolving the food offer is listening to what our customers are telling us! We have to react to this and position ourselves to compete in a very busy market. The key is keeping a sense of fun and occasion to our dining experiences, delivered in the right environment. We obviously keep a keen eye on global food trends and want to have dishes on our menus that people recognize, but ultimately if nobody wants to eat them then we also need to understand that. We feel that we have put together a great food offer at FireLake and we see that evolving seasonally, with us also adding in a great bar menu in 2018…
What are your plans for 2018? We have put together a great calendar of food, drink and entertainment for the launch and for the rest of 2018…. Watch this space!