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The cult of celebrity chefs


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Viability's Guy Wilkinson writes a monthly column for Hotelier Middle East Magazine. This article originally appeared in December 2009.
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The cult of celebrity chefs

  1. 1. 22COMMENT The cult of celebrity chefs According to Viability director Guy Wilkinson, the link between celebrities and cuisine is now firmly established, going beyond Dubai’s F&B scene and outside of the traditional fine dining bracket too with two outlets at the new Fairmont Bab Al Bahr in Abu Dhabi. Al Maz by Momo, oddly located inside the Harvey Nicholls store at the Mall of the Emirates, is the Dubai branch of a famous Moroccan restau- rant/club in London. Other outstand- ing shopping centre outlets include the Emporio Armani Caffe, serving Italian food in style at the Dubai Mall and at the Mall of the Emirates; and Switch at the Dubai Mall, which offers COLUMNIST fusion cuisine in a space-age plastic interior environment by renowned he flavour of the month in interior designer, Karim Rashid. T Dubai’s culinary circles is food and beverage outlets linked to celebrity chefs, or in some cases, celebrity interior designers. The seeds of this new trend were Atlantis, The Palm has no less than four celebrity outlets: Nobu, Ossiano, Ronda Locatelli and Rostang The French Brasserie. Pierre Gagnaire means big business at Reflets par Pierre Gagnaire at the InterContinental Dubai Festival City. arguably sown in 1998, when the ASIAN OPTIONS Galadari family invited renowned Dubai has a number of restaurants BEYOND DUBAI place on the lawn at Dubai Media City interior designer Tony Chi to create linked with Asian celebrities. Asha’s Outside Dubai, the trend is spread- in March, garnered an audience of the La Moda Italian restaurant at at the Pyramids in Wafi City was the ing. At the Al Bustan Palace, the hotel 12,000 over its four days. what was then the InterContinental first ‘contemporary Indian’ restau- that launched international tourism The Jumeirah hotel chain’s BBC- (now Radisson Blu) on Dubai Deira rant outlet of the chain to which the in Oman, the new VUE by Shannon televised Festival of Taste was a PR Creek, complete with wood panel- famous Indian movie singer gave Bennett restaurant serves inspired master-stroke. The five-day pro- ling, light box walls filled with rows of her name. Indego at the Grosvenor French cuisine of the highest order. gramme in November 2008 followed bottles, a resident Lambretta scooter House Hotel vaunts its Indian fusion Bennett was voted Best Chef, and the experiences of celebrity chefs Ain- and waiters in orange boiler suits. Chi from renowned Chef Vineet Bhatia. his restaurant, Vue de Monde, was sley Harriott, James Martin, Brian went on to design Teatro at the Tow- Options at the Dubai World Trade crowned Restaurant of the Year at Turner, Michel Roux, Jean-Chris- ers Rotana, another firm favourite of Centre is Indian celebrity chef San- the 2009 Savour Australia National tophe Novelli and Cyrus Todiwala Dubai’s trendies. jeev Kapoor’s Dubai HQ. Awards for Excellence. from the UK, as well as Kerry Heffer- Since then, a plethora of new ‘name’ Maya at Le Royal Méridien is the The most fêted hotel to open nan from the US, during nine cooking restaurants and clubs have opened in first Middle East outlet from New recently in Qatar is the W Doha. Its events that took place in four Jumei- Dubai. The UK’s most irascible TV York celebrity Mexican fusion chef, five, uber-trendy outlets include the rah hotels in Dubai. chef, ex-footballer Gordon Ramsay, Richard Sandoval. Among the most Market by Jean-Georges, extraor- Never to be outdone by Dubai, the operates both Verre and Glasshouse talked about new restaurants is Ref- dinary because it has a celebrated UAE capital recently ran the Gourmet at the Hilton Dubai Creek, which lets par Pierre Gagnaire at the Inter- fine dining chef — Jean-Georges Abu Dhabi event, a 10-day ‘culinary are French and international outlets Continental Dubai Festival City, a top Vongerichten — running an all day odyssey’ presented by Abu Dhabi respectively. Another British TV chef, French fine dining destination with an diner, which offers recipes like broiled Tourism Authority, which featured a Gary Rhodes, runs Rhodes Mezza- outstanding sommelier to boot. shrimp salad with champagne vinai- cast of eminent master chefs holding, nine at the Grosvenor House Hotel, This is not to forget Dubai’s two grette as standard. The Spice Market between them, 24 Michelin stars and serving that elusive commodity, con- most famous night clubs, the Buddha at the same hotel is another of Chef 40 headline events across 13 venues. temporary British cuisine. Bar, also at the Grosvenor House, and Jean-Georges’ babies. Put that in your pipe and smoke it! HME Joining the ranks of British gastron- the new Cavalli Club at The Fairmont This trend appears to be under- omers in Dubai are champion jockey hotel. The latter is a 1500-capacity pinned by the existence of a fairly Frankie Dettori and celebrity chef night club and sushi bar from the Ital- large niche market of genuine ‘food- Marco Pierre White, who launched ian fashion designer, complete with ies’ whose appreciation of such out- Frankie’s Bar & Grill offering Italian six-metre high Swarovski crystal- lets goes beyond the mere following Guy Wilkinson is a director of Viability, a hospitality and property consulting firm in Dubai. fare at the Al Fattan Marine Towers studded walls, now of course, draped of fashion. The recent Taste of Dubai For more information, email: and have continued this relationship with beautiful people. festival, for example, which took December 2009 • Hotelier Middle East