I cant stop smiling! I am at a unique and much cherished dinner. She’s twenty two years old and has won the world’s first vegetarian masterchef. He is 56 years old, a revered Michelin starred chef from Italy. She is a Gujarati born and bred in Abu dhabi and has majored in finance and business from a prestigious American university. Whereas Roberto Franzin is from a family of professional chefs and cooks, Nikita Gandhi grew up watching her mother cook (she has never baked). Having won the masterchef series zoomed Nikita into the international lime light (and she even assisted Sanjeev Kapoor in cooking for Prime minister Modi). Roberto honed his formidable talents under superstars: Spanish Chef Santi Santimaria, and the French chef Jean François Piège and his restaurant has been conferred the coveted Michelin stars.
SHHH! SECRETS AHEAD
Im about to share a very yummy secret with you. Correction: many secrets that will help you cook and eat healthy as well as tasty. And creating these recipes and sharing them freely is a slender, slim and sunshiny young girl. I was so rivetted by her instagram posts that I requested to meet her. Whoa! What an amazing success story…Karen McLean , this Australian-Vietnamese girl moved to Dubai only two years ago and since then has millions of fan followers. She’s a qualified CA who came to a foreign country (Dubai), loves cooking and her dad and grandpa are amazing cooks. But healthy eating recipes are her very own and it was accidentally that Karen started sharing them on her website and instagram and voila! her fan following hit sky high.
Is it possible? Can just one evening tasting session deliver the best of a city’s food-scene? The very best of cupcakes Gourmet shewaramas, salads et al? yup! possible, but only when the knowledgable foodie hostess and publishing consultant and whiz, the lovely Faarah Mehta generously sources and then equally generously opens up her stylish villa (private beach et al) for my Whats hot tasting session. As does her foodie husband, retailing tycoon, the dashing Saagar Shewakramani. High voltage, brilliant editor of a leading lifestyle magazine Kavita Srinivasan, Sridip Ganguly, software expert are foodies extraordinaires too.
MY DOUBLE TREAT
It’s a treat to beat all treats. A Double Treat, whichever way you look at it. And Im not only referring to the delicious nutritious dates (which I cant stop eating) but also my delightful dates from South India. The brilliant Executive chef Thirimalai Murugan ‘s award winning dish blends South India and Dubai so is it any wonder that the dish was given highly prestigious UAE award? The creative and hard working chef from kanyakumari has not only honed his talents all over the world, but has also spearheaded many a hotel pre-opening team.
A request. Please take a look at the accompanying photograph: would you believe I shot this in the hot, arid desert? Such a fabulous relief to be amongst lush tropical gardens and trees in this concrete skyscrapered Dubai! It gets even more exciting because here in the cosmopolitan, diverse Dubai, not only does this multi-talented, brilliant Executive chef share his recipe of my most favorite dessert, the Crepes Suzette but many an invaluable multi-cuisine cooking tip too. Here he is, flambéing the pancake dessert by drizzling the Grand Marnier liquor down the orange rind and swapping many an interesting culinary story too.
While researching for my latest book, I dined at Roberto’s, the contemporary Italian restaurant in Dubai.
The elaborate menu is set by the brilliant Executive Chef Andrea Mugavero.
Roberto’s houses three refreshing concepts under one roof: the elegant main dining room, Il Ristorante, the buzzing lounge, Il Salotto, and an open air terrace, La Terrazza. Combined, these three areas create a unique sense of belonging appropriate for all occations.
I dine at the wondeful, La Petite Maison, where we trip out on the worlds best French toast and Burrata. This restaurant has been rated amongst the World’s 100 best restaurants. Local produce, notably artichokes, courgettes, lemons, olives, tomatoes, peppers and girolles are used generously with sea food, meat and fresh pasta to produce a style that’s light and healthy at La Petite Maison.
Over the top and over the moon in Dubai? How do I define it? Let me count the ways… Okay so Ive dined in the worlds highest restaurant (At.mosphere) in the worlds tallest building (Burj Khalifa). Tripped out on sushi at the glamorous Zeta while the worlds largest choreographed fountains danced and sang. Dined at the glamorous Pierchic which floats like a jewel in the sea. But here in the accompanying photograph Ive captured the over the top spirit of glitzy, edgy, flamboyant Dubai: Tall, gutsy, glamorous chef Silvena Rowe reigns over the hearts, palates and imagination of Dubai with her trio of Omnia restaurants. The newest one shimmers with it’s three storeyed see through mirrored kitchen and conjures modern magic with Emirati fare. Having eaten an amazing meal in Omnia we invited Silvena to get a taste of what our 26 year old Indian chef Himanshu Saini was creating with modernist Indian fare in Tresind (which has also been the talk of the town) Dubai’s leading brand builders Rita Karanjia Mehta and Leela Dhar updated me with invaluable insights into dazzling Dubai. Ofcourse, as I continue research on the definitive guide to Dubai, Ive been eating at many an amazing surprise …from the fine dining Govindas (without onion and garlic) to Wolfgang’s Puck’s cutting edge steak house where the chef creates vegan fare too. Dubai does dazzle.
Here’s a feast to beat all feasts. It pampers all my senses…there is light, sound, dance, music and ofcourse food. As though all this were not enough there is also the worlds tallest building and the worlds biggest choreographed fountain to keep me company. If the accompanying photograph had a video and sound track, heres what you’d see and hear… glittering and shimmering fountains leaping and swirling and twirling into the evening sky as different colored lights bathe and sway with them. These fountains dance to music and Whitney Houston’s husky ”I’ll always love you” echoes sensuously as the fountains sway to it’s melody. And as though blessing it all and taking the ringside seat like a benevolent all-caring Pasha is the worlds tallest building, The Burj Khalifa which shimmers glamorously. And right here while feasting on this spectacle I am feasting on the freshest of fare created by the brilliant Executive chef Alain Gobeil . All this is the glamorous Zeta Restaurant where the heart of Dubai seems to throb in all it’s glory. In many different ways.