Offering top 12 UAE chefs the opportunity to showcase their skills and creativity in a timed cooking competition, ingredients to be used aren’t revealed until the countdown.
“Team effort will be integral to win this competition, where contending teams will be judged based on hygiene, kitchen skills, creativity in putting ingredients together, cooking skills and of course taste,” says Chef Uwe Micheel, president of the Emirates Culinary Guild, who will lead the panel of expert chefs judging the competition.
To recreate a full dining experience from the moment someone steps into a restaurant, participating teams are required to have one barman, two service members and three members in the kitchen, with the addition of a steward.
“The first edition of Chef’s Table hosted at The Hotel Show last year was a resounding success and it quickly earned its status as a star feature at the event,” says Nathan Waugh, portfolio director – Hospitality Division at dmg events.
“We’ve expanded the competition by a third this year, and we’re delighted to once again be partnering with Emirates Culinary Guild for this exciting competition, which serves as a glowing testament to the culinary excellence that the UAE proudly offers,” he adds.
According to the KPMG UAE 2018 Food & Beverage Report, ‘the restaurant footprint in Dubai is high, second only to that of Paris’. A report issued by the Business Registration & Licensing (BRL) sector in the Department of Economic Development (DED), Dubai, indicates that 1,109 new restaurants and cafés opened in the emirate in 2018. ‘A further 1,600 F&B outlets will join the growing sector in the UAE’, forecasts a recent KPMG survey.
Alongside its rising global image as a food destination, Dubai is home to an increasing population of food bloggers. Chef Micheel highlights that, while he has the highest respect for reputed bloggers in the UAE who know food inside out, he feels that the majority are self-proclaimed experts who need to sharpen their knowledge and skills on the topic.
To develop proficiency as a food expert, Micheel recommends spending time with chefs and identifying one’s weaknesses in the area. The award-winning author of Chef at Home says: “If you’ve only eaten pizza your whole life, how can you comment with authority on fine dining, French cuisine?”
Discussing current food trends in the UAE, the president of the Emirates Culinary Guild shared that Greek cuisine is currently in favour, and that there’s an increasing demand for fresh food in line with global trends.
The KPMG Food and Beverage Report supports this, stating that ‘multiple operators indicated a noticeable increase in vegetarian and vegan options’, and ‘increasing awareness about health has led some to reduce or give up meat, gluten and milk products’. At the same time, Chef Uwe notes that the Middle East’s shawarma and kebabs are gaining accelerated popularity in the international food scene.
Shedding the light on challenges faced by chefs in the Middle East, Chef Uwe revealed that there’s pressure to prioritise aesthetics over taste so that food is social media-worthy. Another looming issue, he adds, in the local and global industry is food wastage, which can be resolved with more responsible behaviours when it comes to consuming and serving food.
The competition this year features Jackson Vending Dallmayr as Coffee Sponsor, Madar Farms as the Sustainable Partner, Southern Cross as Meat Sponsor, Montalbano (Top Chairs) as Chair Sponsor, Bragard as Uniform Sponsor, Diversey as Hygiene Sponsor and 1765 Gemini as Tableware Sponsor.
A part of the inaugural Middle East Design and Hospitality Week 2019, The Hotel Show Dubai will be co-located with The Leisure Show, INDEX, Workspace, Surface Design Middle East, FIM and INDEX Home.