Food Trip Magazine | Vol 2, Issue 1

Page 1


Enjoy restaurant cuisine in the comfort of your home with Private Chef Vanessa Bayma

The story behind IchiRyu Ramen House

Evangeline Gamayon: serving with love

Burger inspired by meat stew becomes the rage

Michelin Star Chef Jitin Joshi: ‘My vision is to be an industry disruptor.’

Mama’s Lamesa: An exceptional Filipino restaurant

48 hours in Georgia – A foodie traveller’s story

Former working student now runs operations of Dubai-based restaurant chain

‘Filipinos are close to my heart.’



VOLUME 2 | ISSUE - 1 JUNE 2023
to the world of gastronomic

From the Publisher

Dear Valued Readers,

Welcome to yet another exciting edition of Food Trip Magazine! We are thrilled to share with you the diverse stories that make up the dynamic and ever-evolving food and beverage industry in the United Arab Emirates.

In this issue, we venture far and wide, exploring the intricate flavors and culinary traditions that have been expertly crafted and honored by a myriad of chefs, restaurateurs, and food lovers.

We are proud to bring you the story of Dencio’s, an iconic restaurant that has recently spread its wings to establish its first overseas branch in the bustling city of Dubai. Our visit to Chooks Express will leave your mouth watering as we delve into their unique honey-glazed, charcoal-grilled chicken. For those who appreciate the allure of Korean cuisine, we shed light on the popular Mukbang Shows, a true testament to the global appeal of the culinary world.

We have also made it our mission to tell the human stories behind the scenes. You’ll get to know the people who pour their hearts into creating these gastronomic experiences - like Fatima Abdulreza Moones Rokin Aldeeni, co-owner of Chooks Express, whose love for the Filipino community inspired her to open the restaurant. You will also meet Mushtaq Shaikh, whose passion for Filipino cuisine led him to open Kusina Ilonggo’s Restaurant, and Steve Fuentes, who overcame personal challenges to pursue his dreams in the industry.

In our continued efforts to celebrate and learn from talented chefs worldwide, we spotlight Latin American culinary artist Gabriela Chamorro, Luisa Serna with her impressive skills, and Surender Mohan, a culinary veteran with a career spanning three decades.

This issue is teeming with flavors, experiences, and inspiration that we hope will invite you to explore new culinary avenues and appreciate the hard work and passion poured into each dish. Your continued support allows us to bring these stories to life, and for that, we are incredibly grateful.

Let’s embark on this delicious journey together!

Savor every moment,


Gabriel John Rimando

Publications Manager

Ryan Namia

Content Director

Jerome Diaz

Contributing Writers

Amanda Hensley

Zainab Shahid

Sayed Hussain

Sales and Marketing Manager

Orli Gayeta

Sales and Marketing

John Paul Cosico

Senior Graphic Designer

Allan Caragao

Multimedia Manager

Jonathan Dumas


Qassim Quereshi


“Filipinos, for me, are a happy, carefree hardworking people, most of us Arab nationals agree to that. That’s why we are really happy and we appreciate the Filipinos’ contributions here in UAE,” says Fatima Abdulreza Moones Rokin Aldeeni, Chooks Express co-owner.

More on pages 22-23

Craving authentic Chinese cuisine? - Pages 4 -5 Brunch – Where did this term come from? - Pages 10 -11
Mama’s Lamesa: An exceptional Filipino restaurant - Pages 14 5-5 Enjoy restaurant cuisine in the comfort of your home with Private Chef Vanessa Bayma - Pages 38 -39

Craving authentic Chinese cuisine?

On offer is a voucher system where diners get AED 5 cash voucher for every AED 50 spent, and AED10 for every AED100 spent. Vouchers can be used for next purchase and are valid for two months.

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Chinese Star Restaurant has opened in Ghurair Centre in Deira, Dubai, rolling out authentic cuisine from a table basket full of Chicken Dry Hot Chili, one of their bestsellers at AED38, to flavourful hot pot at AED59 a kilo, roast duck with rice at AED28; Wanton Soup, AED19; stir fried noodles at AED18 and more.

Servings are good for two persons, especially at the Asian Cuisine section.

The restaurant, located on the first floor, held a grand opening on May 18 attended by various dignitaries

including representatives from the Philippine Consulate General and the Philippine Business Council.

On offer is a voucher system where diners get AED 5 cash voucher for every AED 50 spent, and AED10 for every AED100 spent. Vouchers can be used for next purchase and are valid for two months.


Beirut Streets: Enjoy Lebanese street food in Dubai


Introducing Beirut Streets, the lively newcomer to Dubai’s dining scene! Inspired by the vibrant streets of modern Beirut, the Lebanese street food dining destination located in Al Barsha, creates a holistic experience transporting you to the bustling streets of Beirut.

The home-grown restaurant’s concept is simple: Capture the essence of Beirut in all its spontaneity and contradictions, creating an authentic experience that boasts nostalgia.

The extensive menu offers a delightful array of both classic and creatively curated Lebanese dishes, available from breakfast until midnight. Diners can indulge in favorites like freshly baked Manakish with a special dough, alongside a tempting selection of twisted street food. From sandwiches and flavorful chicken and beef shawarmas to crispy falafels, succulent grills, and a wide variety of both cold and hot mezzes, there’s something to satisfy every palate. The menu combines the best of traditional Lebanese cuisine with innovative twists, providing a

unique dining experience.

To complement the meal, Beirut Streets offers a variety of cocktails and delectable desserts, including an icecream cart by the renowned Bachir brand, a popular concept found on most corners of Beirut. The dishes feature authentic flavors presented with generous portion sizes, providing a fantastic dining experience for all. With competitive pricing, Beirut Streets offers an exceptional culinary adventure that satisfies both the palate and the pocket.

Beirut Streets, which opened in February, is open from 8am to 2am and is conveniently situated in The B1 across from Mall of the Emirates in Al Barsha 1. For more information, please visit @ beirutstreets.uae or call 045859402.

Instagram: @beirutstreets.uae


Maddy & Star lights up Bamboo Lagoon evenings with OPM hits and more

Bamboo Lagoon Restaurant at The Bristol Hotel is not just about great food and good vibes after all.

It’s also about music – soul, reggae, ballads, OPM hits… you name it.

Performing nightly from 8pm to 1am except Mondays, seasoned singers Maddy & Star take the stage to perform while diners dig in to a sumptuous buffet.

Maddy has been singing since college, while Star was a weekly finalist at the popular lunch hit, Showtime’s Tawag ng Tanghalan in 2020.

The duo was an instant hit on their first few performances with customers requesting songs and at least two joining the fun, singing on stage. Note that the eat-all-you-can weekend offer from Friday to Sunday is at 40% discount. This, plus a special promo on a bucket of cold hops for these warm summer nights.

The buffet features 10 main courses on the spread. A Peking duck live station. Grills station. Dumplings station. Two soups. Two starters. Five salads. Four kinds of desserts and unli iced tea.

Bamboo Lagoon Restaurant at The Bristol Hotel just behind Muraqqabat Police Station and next to Hamarain Shopping Centre on Abu Baker Al Siddique Road.

Brunch – Where did this term come from?

Restaurants in Dubai, and pretty much the rest of the world, roll out irresistible weekend brunch offers where you sit almost all day indulging in food – indeed a bon vivant’s dreamcome-true

The word “brunch” was coined by British writer Guy Beringer in an 1895 article in Hunter’s Weekly. He stressed that instead of the post-church early dinner that was typical in England at that time, there should be a hybrid of breakfast and lunch served around noon

for “Saturday-night carousers” to enjoy.

Among popular Dubai dining venues serving one of the best brunch in the city is The Underground Pub at At Habtoor Grand Resort, Autograph Collection.

The Underground Pub is a quirky London Underground themed sports bar grub, where on embarks on a culinary journey that transcends the mundane, offering an array of delectable dishes to tantalize the taste buds, all while enjoying favourite brews.


Discover a whole new dimension of weekend indulgence unlike anything you’ve experienced before. Whether you’re looking to unwind with friends, celebrate a special occasion, or simply enjoy a lazy Saturday, The Underground Pub is the place to be. Enjoy a DJ spinning the greatest music as you immerse yourself in a lively environment that is enhanced by delicious cuisine and fantastic brews.


Burger inspired by meat stew becomes the rage

Lecsó is a Hungarian staple, thick vegetable stew which traditionally contains yellow peppers, tomatoes, onion, a dash of salt, garlic and ground paprika as main ingredients.

The onions and peppers are usually sauteed in lard, smoked bacon fat, or sunflower oil. Garlic can also be a traditional ingredient.

You can also be creative in making your own mix – even go a bit further and turn it into a sandwich of sort!

In Dubai, an enterprising burger restaurant has come up with a “Budapest Burger,” inspired by this traditional Hungarian dish.

The Goofy Cow Burger reimagined and paired the Lecsó with the restaurant’s unique take on burgers and voila! A must-try new concept for anyone looking to experience the authentic flavours of Hungary.

The Budapest Burger is made of freshly baked bun, 130grams of US Black Angus beef patty, lambs, lettuce, crispy beef bacon, smoked cheddar cheese, green chili, saus crumb tartar sauce, lecsó, and caramelized onion.

This intriguing burger, part of Goofy Cow’s monthly, special burger series, is a perfect balance of flavours with a mix of sweet and tangy, smoky and spicy.

“We believe that every good burger has a good story,” says Jani (Janos) Jancsa, who has a comprehensive, more-than-adecade-long career in corporate finance but quit when he turned 30 to pursue his passion for food.

“That’s why,” he added, “we’ve created a menu that features traditional Hungarian flavours, classic favourites and indulgent options – all made with the finest ingredients.”


Mama’s Lamesa: An exceptional Filipino restaurant

Their signature dish, Mama’s Limousine, offers an impressive feast that combines the succulent Overload Mix Grill and the tantalizing Seafoods Galaxy. Served on a single platter at a pocket-friendly price, this festive set is sure to impress.

Located in the bustling Tourist Club Area of Abu Dhabi, Mama’s Lamesa is an exceptional Filipino restaurant that has undergone a recent rebranding. Teaming up with Wandering Kusina, a team of passionate food enthusiasts, Mama’s Lamesa introduces a fresh perspective on Filipino cuisine, combining tradition with innovation.

Their signature dish, Mama’s Limousine, offers an impressive feast that combines the succulent Overload Mix Grill and the tantalizing Seafoods Galaxy. Served on a single platter at a pocket-friendly price, this festive set is sure to impress.

For a taste of the Bisayan region, Mama’s Balbacua Special is a musttry. This beloved stew is made from

tender cow’s legs and skin, simmered to perfection until the sauce reaches a rich thickness, creating a delectable dish that caters to individual preferences.

Among their best sellers, the Pinadapang Manok, also known as butterfly chicken, steals the show. Marinated with their in-house blend of flavors and expertly grilled, this dish delights the palate with its smoky aroma and tender texture.

Mama’s Lamesa takes pride in their Fried Daing na Bangus, a timeless classic. The deboned milkfish is marinated with precision and fried to golden perfection, resulting in a crispy and flavorful delight that has won the hearts of many.

Seafood lovers will rejoice with Mama’s


Mix Grill Fiesta 4U, a collection of grilled seafood, stuffed squid, and grilled vegetables. Served alongside fresh pansit and bagoong, this platter showcases the diverse flavors of the sea.

In a fusion of cultures, Mama’s Lamesa presents the Shawarma Sisig, a unique creation that combines the concept of Arabic shawarma with the bold flavors of sisig. Served sizzling on a hot plate, this dish captivates with its smoky and sizzling delight, complemented by the perfect blend of sisig flavors and capsicums.

Mama’s Lamesa adds a touch of innovation to their dishes with Mama’s Special Pancit. The freshly blanched noodles are infused with special seasonings and expertly stir-fried in

a wok, resulting in a burst of flavorful taste and texture. Topped with grilled chicken breast, this dish takes pancit to new heights.

Wandering Kusina’s creativity shines through with their original creations. The Crispy Okra invites even the skeptics to fall in love with this vegetable, thanks to its innovative coating and cooking method. And for guilt-free indulgence, the Tofu Meatballs combine tofu and minced chicken, seasoned to perfection and molded into bite-sized balls.

To refresh the palate, Wandering Kusina presents their Mango Coleslaw, an elevated take on the classic salad. The shredded raw cabbage mixed with special dressing and topped with sliced

ripe mango offers a delightful balance of flavors and textures.

For a sweet finale, indulge in the Peanut Roll with Ice Cream. This Wandering Kusina creation showcases crushed peanuts mixed with brown sugar and cinnamon powder, rolled in thin wraps, and served with a generous scoop of creamy ice cream.

Mama’s Lamesa, with its innovative and flavorful offerings, promises a culinary journey that showcases the best of Filipino cuisine. With the collaborative efforts of Mama’s Lamesa and Wandering Kusina, this rebranded Filipino restaurant is set to impress and leave a lasting impression on diners in Abu Dhabi.


Weidao China Hotpot and BBQ – still a top fave for many reasons

Weidao China Hotpot and BBQ opened a few years back and till now is the top go-to place for the restaurant’s endless choices at its eat-all-you-can spread.

Among grill favorites is the marinated shrimp, chicken wings, pork blood and many more.

Indeed, one hour is not enough for the heavenly indulgence!

They have a wide selection of foodstuff

for the hotpot and table grill, not to mention a spread of noodles and more, sweets and ice cream -- all for AED59 per head. Winner !

Weidao China Hotpot and BBQ is located along Al Maktoum Hospital Street, Naif; next to Al Madina Hypermart near Hyatt Place and Fish Roundabout at the corner of Ghurair Mall.

Have you been there, lately?


Off The Hook Seafood Restaurant eyes 5 branches in Qatar

Off The Hook (OTH) Seafood Restaurant, the fastest growing Filipino-run dining venue in UAE have set plans to open five branches in Qatar, according to Rolly Brucales, corporate co-founder and managing director.

Off The Hook (OTH) has just recently opened its first branch in Doha, in an event graced by Philippine Ambassador to Qatar, Lillibeth V. Pono, Engr. Edwin Aga - OTH Qatar franchisee and managing director and the OTH team.

“I’m so grateful for the opening kasi we put a lot of the hard work on how we can establish or penetrate sa ibang bansa outside UAE – and now, nag-materialize na sya. Our plan is to open at least five branches in Qatar alone,” Brucales told Food Trip Magazine.

“Our vision is to be a world-class seafood restaurant of choice and a trusted brand in the GCC.”

OTH first opened on Airport Road in Abu Dhabi in 2016. Today, there are 13 branches in UAE and one in Qatar for a total of 14.

There are nine corporate branches with one scheduled to be opened in Yas Mall next month.

These corporate branches are in Murabaa in Al Ain; Airport Road, Tourist Club, Galleria Mall, Deerfields Mall in Abu Dhabi; and Centurion Building, Deira, IBN Battuta Mall, Downtown Kitchen Dubai Mall and Dubai Festival City Mall in Dubai.

There also are four franchises – three in UAE: Al Nadha, Sharjah; Manar Mall in Ras Al Khaimah; Town Center in Fujairah; and the one in Qatar located on B-Ring Road Al Muntazah, Doha. The recently-opened Qatar franchise has a seating capacity of eight people. Menu is the same with OTH in UAE except for some beverages and lobster thermidors. Footfall has been increasing since it opened on May 13 this year.

OTH is popular for, among others, its Seafood Boodle Fight with which has a selection of eight sauces.

Gracing the event was Philippine Ambassador to Qatar, Lillibeth V. Pono (5th from left). Off The Hook (OTH), popular for its Seafood Boodle Fight with a selection of eight sauces, has 13 branches across UAE, including 4 in Dubai.

People & Stories


‘Filipinos, for me, are a happy, carefree hardworking people, most of us Arab nationals agree to that. That’s why we are really happy and we appreciate the Filipinos’ contributions here in UAE.’

Fatima Abdulreza Moones Rokin Aldeeni Chooks Express co-owner

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‘Filipinos are close to my heart.’

Much has been said about how locals and other nationalities running business establishments in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) prefer to hire Filipinos because of their passion and dedication to their jobs.

Among them is Fatima Abdulreza Moones Rokin Aldeeni, who with two other business partners, recently opened Chooks Express, a fastfood specializing in honey glazed grilled

chicken, which counts among the restaurant’s best sellers.

“I have decided to open a Filipino brand restaurant because I have Filipino friends and employees in my other business,” Aldeeni tells Food Trip Magazine.

“Filipinos are close to my heart.”

Chooks Express counts among latest additions to Dubai’s vibrant Filipino dining scene.

Aldeeni, who holds a degree in public relations, said she finds Filipino to be a happy bunch.

“Filipinos, for me, are a happy, carefree, hardworking people. Most of us, Arab nationals, agreed to that,” she said.

“That’s why we are really happy and we appreciate the Filipinos’ contributions here in UAE.”


Serving with love Evangeline Gamayon’s inspiring journey as a waitress

Their signature dish, Mama’s Limousine, offers an impressive feast that combines the succulent Overload Mix Grill and the tantalizing Seafoods Galaxy. Served on a single platter at a pocket-friendly price, this festive set is sure to impress.

Evangeline Gamayon is not just a waitress at the Timog branch of Bulgogi Grille Korean Restaurant, but an inspiring figure who embodies dedication and passion in her profession. As part of a renowned restaurant chain, Bulgogi Grille has branches in Bulgogi Grille - Dubai, UAE, and three locations in the Philippines: Timog in Quezon City, Bulgogi Grille - Trece Martires in Cavite, and Bulgogi Grille - Valenzuela in Metro Manila. Known for their delicious Korean cuisine, Bulgogi Grille offers both à la carte dishes and an unlimited buffet. Evangeline’s commitment to providing exceptional service and creating memorable experiences for her customers serves as an inspiration to waiters and restaurant workers everywhere. Her exemplary performance earned her the title of Employee of the Month in December 2022.

Every day, Evangeline ensures the restaurant is spotless and wellstocked with necessary supplies and equipment, creating a comfortable and inviting atmosphere for customers. In difficult times, she maintains a positive attitude and works with her team to develop innovative strategies for improving the restaurant. Her perseverance demonstrates the importance of

resilience in the food service industry. Evangeline handles customer complaints with grace and professionalism, always aiming to resolve issues promptly and effectively. With a focus on safety and satisfaction, she takes care to understand the dietary requirements of guests with allergies or specific needs, ensuring they enjoy their dining experience without worry. She goes above and beyond to create unforgettable experiences for guests celebrating special events, from enhancing the restaurant’s décor to providing personalized services. She regularly checks the quality of dishes before they reach the customers, contributing to the restaurant’s high standards and reputation for delicious Korean cuisine. Evangeline fosters a sense of camaraderie among her colleagues, creating a family-like atmosphere that contributes to the restaurant’s success. She diligently adheres to industry rules and regulations, maintaining a safe and efficient work environment for all.

Evangeline treats customers with warmth, respect, and a genuine smile, providing exceptional service that keeps them coming back for more. She remains vigilant in identifying and addressing potential hazards

in the restaurant, ensuring a safe dining experience for all guests. She envisions her workplace continuing to flourish, with Bulgogi Grille becoming an even more renowned destination for Korean cuisine lovers. Among the many dishes served at Bulgogi Grille, Evangeline’s favorite is the succulent Bulgogi Pork. She continuously hones her skills in customer service and expands her knowledge of Korean cuisine, remaining passionate about her role as a waitress. Evangeline advises newcomers to be patient, dedicated, and adaptable. She believes that with hard work, love for one’s job, and a commitment to excellence, success will follow.

Evangeline Gamayon’s journey showcases the impact that a dedicated and passionate waitress can have on a restaurant’s success. Her unwavering commitment to her profession, the well-being of her customers, and her recognition as Employee of the Month in December 2022 at the Timog branch of Bulgogi Grille are an inspiration to all Food Trip Magazine staff and readers alike.


The story behind IchiRyu Ramen House

‘Bata pa lang kami nangangarap na kami. Libre naman kasi ang mangarap, di ba?”

Every dining venue has a story to share – be it the food, the team, or the people behind its success.

This is about that of three brothers –Karl, Raul (a.k.a Chef Touru) and Nico De Guzman – who hail from Angeles City, Pampanga in the Philippines and grew up mostly in the care of their mom as their dad had to leave for Japan to work.

The three recently opened IchiRyu Ramen House at Wasl Port Views Bldg 7, Jumeirah 1, Dubai, which, in just about a month’s time, has become all the rage in that part of this international expat city that never sleeps.

Raul grew up and studied in Japan, enabling him to absorb the country’s culture, tradition and culinary wonders that would eventually prove instrumental in the birth of IchiRyu

Ramen House as he eventually engaged himself in food & beverage.

Karl and Nico, on the other hand, were raised in the Philippines and studied there.

“Lumaki kami na laging may struggle,” shares Nico about how their life’s journey had been.

“Struggle financially…struggle na yung nanay namin trying her best na punan yung wala yung tatay namin sa tabi namin kasi kelangan nya maghanapbuhay abroad,” he said.

“Kaya nangarap kami na magkaruon ng magandang buhay para sa pamilya namin. We are strong as a family. Ganun na lang yung unity namin as a family kasi whenever we look back sa pinagmulan naming, ganun ganun na lang yung pasasalamat namin dahil we are where we are at now and we always have each other’s back.”

The secret to life is in the dream you have, as they say.

“Bata pa lang kami nangangarap na kami. Libre naman kasi ang mangarap, di ba?” the siblings said.

“Yung nanay naming, may maliit na carinderia. So nuon pa man, alam na namin yung hirap at sarap ng pagkakaruon ng tindahan. Fast forward to now, it just so happened na nag-unite ulit yung passion at mga pangarap namin.”

Meanwhile, stories they kept getting from their dad and Raul fitted into the narrative. “Nakagisnan na namin yung Japanese food and culture. Mga anak din kasi kami ng dating OFW. Our dad was an OFW in Japan, so definitely bata pa lang kami sobrasobra na yun mga kwento at exposure namin sa Japan,” Nico said.

Karl arrived in Dubai in 2006; Nico, a year later; and Raul in 2021. Karl

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and Nico were on visit visa and eventually found day jobs – Karl as a membership consultant at a gym making AED3,800 a month; Nico as graphic designer making AED 4,500. Raul arrived an established entrepreneur, having started business in the Philippines as early as 2009.

The brothers have kept their day jobs to this day, where Raul earns as consultant from his various businesses back home; Karl as senior account director at an experiential company; and Nico, a studio director at the same experiential company.

The thought of opening a Japanese restaurant came one day when the brothers were having a meal.

“Back in December 2021,” said Nico, “we were having a bowl of ramen.”

“Nagkabiruan pa, nag-umpisa si Kuya

Raul, saying na mas masarap yung ramen nya. It got us intrigued and that, I gues,s was where it all started. Nag-umpisa kaming mag visit ng iba’t ibang ramen houses and we really got curious and passionate about starting Ichiryu Ramen House thereafter.”

And so, Raul got busy with managing the food development part; Karl, with the whole project – from client briefing to internal discussions and implementation; while Nico got his creatives at work with “not just visually appealing designs but a space that has a story and will give customers a full journey,” as he would say.

“We combined Kuya Raul’s F&B background, Kuya Karl’s operations skills and my designing expertise to be able to come out with not only the best ramen in Dubai, but the most memorable experience and visual journey as well,” Nico said.

Indeed, walking into IchiRyu Ramen House is like being transported halfway across the globe in Tokyo. The set-up. The mural on the wall. The traditional Japanese masks… anime… and yes, of course the food, where the De Guzmans have set up to develop 15 kinds of ramen dishes for the customers’ indulgence.

Right now, Raul has a whole slew –from AKA paitan, shiro paitan, kuro paitan, midori and some vegetarian options. Aside from ramen, he also has don buri and small bites.

No wonder, the Japanese restaurant has become popular that fast.


Going Thai

Pad Thai is a stir-fried rice noodle dish commonly served as a street food in Thailand as part of the country’s cuisine. It is typically made with rice noodles, shrimp, peanuts, a scrambled egg, and bean sprouts. The ingredients are fried in a wok.


Former working student now runs operations of Dubai-based restaurant chain

‘I always work based on priority and proper time management to be able to empower my team and ensure that projects are being launched as planned.’ – Raffy Divina.

Aworking student who became Jollibee branch manager in the Philippines around 2009, Raffy Divina arrived in Dubai on March 16, 2016, hired to work as acting Head of Marketing of Golden Bee Foods Restaurant LLC, known as Jollibee.

Hailing from San Pedro City in Laguna, Divina is currently Head of Operations for the different brands of Off the Hook Seafood Restaurant, which includes Zutto Suki Ramen and Potato Corner.

“I am overall responsible for the growth of the business, when it comes to sales and profit, people development and growth, and total quality management,” Divina, who holds a degree in Business Management with a major in Management, tells Food Trip


He added: “Every work always has challenges, especially when it comes to managing the top and bottom lines. But, I always work based on priority and proper time management to be able to empower my team and ensure that projects are being launched as planned.”

Divina was also with the team that recently launched Off The Hook Seafood Restaurant in Doha, Qatar.

Sharing the story of his life journey and how he fell in love with the food and beverage (F&B) business, Divina said: “Way back in 2003, I started my F&B (1st job) journey at the age of 17. I was a working student at that time and the primary purpose is just simply to have some source of income to support my education.

“I was exposed to several stations and given different responsibilities even when I was just a crew. I believe this made me appreciate, love, and, later on, established a passion for the F&B industry. I was given several training, development, and career programs which became my tool for achieving constant promotions and getting a leadership position.”

As they say, nowhere to go but up. Divina said it is his priority to continuously support Off the Hook and its other brands, which have lots of plans in the pipeline, achieve its vision.

“I am also pursuing my Master’s in Business Administration (MBA) right now to become more equipped in performing my role effectively and efficiently,” he said.

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Photo courtesy of Dubai Food Festival

Michelin Star Chef Jitin Joshi:

‘It was a high-pressure environment and mediocracy was non-existent; you had to be at your best all the time-every time! These hard-core and often brutal shifts in the kitchen hardened me for the years to come.”

‘My vision is to be an industry disruptor.’

Chef Jitin Joshi, renowned Michelin Star Chef with an illustrious career spanning over 23 years and a remarkable culinary background who recently got on board as Director of Culinary at The Crossing Dubai, has carved a distinguished path in the culinary world, honing his skills in top kitchens across eight countries, from prestigious Michelin-starred restaurants to high-end cruise liners and vineyard establishments.

And he is just getting started.

“My goal is to create a global footprint for various concepts, and my vision is to be an industry disruptor not only in successful restaurants but also in leading the way in sustainability and growing teams together. I am not here to redefine anything; my aim is to provide exceptional memories when you dine at our restaurants,” he tells Food Trip Magazine.

Hailing from India, Chef Joshi received his training at the renowned Oberoi School in Delhi, where he graduated in 1999.

“I graduated from the Oberoi School bagging the Ishran Devi gold medal, and then was among the very few young chefs from India to rise to Sous chef in a 2-star Michelin restaurant (Capital, London),” he said.

In 2005, Chef Joshi was head pastry chef at Gordon Ramsay’s Maze and in

he 2007 led the team at Benares to a Michelin star.

Asked what inspired him to pursue a culinary career Chef Joshi said it was destiny that he started pursuing hospitality. “In the early days, chefs like Marco Pierre White and Thomas Keller inspired me,” he said.

Chef Joshi said his diverse experiences in various countries and establishments has had a tremendous influence. “I feel it has rounded me out as a professional chef. Every cuisine, culture and country have its own unique nuances which have given me a constant learning experience and provided me with the ammunition to apply them in any future circumstances,” he said.

How has working under chefs Eric Chavot and Gordon Ramsay in London influenced his culinary expertise?

Chef Joshi said Chef Eric was a “perfectionist (who) ran a 2 Michelin star restaurant for over a decade.

“What I learnt as a young chef just out of India was priceless and could have never come to me via books in the library. With Gordon, it was a highpressure environment and mediocracy was non-existent; you had to be at your best all the time-every time! These hard-core and often brutal shifts in the kitchen hardened me for the years to come.”

And how excited is he about Dubai?

Chef Joshi said Dubai has seen some great home-grown concepts and chefs pushing the boundaries in their own special ways. “I have learned to adapt my cuisine and make it more customercentric and relevant when I am in Dubai.”

In Dubai, Chef Joshi has astounded discerning palates at prestigious venues such as the Armani Hotel, Atmosphere in the Burj Khalifa, and the first Taj Hotel in the region. As his reputation grew, he made notable appearances on Sony TV and Dubai Eye Radio, while also serving culinary delights to renowned celebrities.

Located at No 1, Sheikh Zayed Road, The H Hotel, The Crossing brings fine dining neo-Indian cuisine experience to Dubai. Launched on January 20, 2022, The Crossing has emerged as the most sought-after restaurant for its elevated Indian cuisine, was chosen for a restaurant take over at W Abu Dhabi— Yas Island for IIFA awards.

It has been recognised for its cuisine and nominated for awards, including The Best New Restaurant by BBC Good Food, FACT Awards 2022, World Culinary Awards for Best New Restaurant in Middle East and highly recommended by What’s On Awards 2023.


Award-winning Chef Vladimir Mukhin presents the mystery of his latest gastronomical venture

The show blends some of the greatest romantic artwork with modern visual projections and culinary excellence, creating a truly memorable experience.

The Imaginary Art show is a spectacular one-of-a-kind, AIempowered immersive dining experience that features the paintings of eight world-renowned contemporary artists from the late 19th and early 20th century.

The show is curated by Chef Vladimir Mukhin, who has created a set menu of eight courses, each dedicated to a particular masterpiece.

The gastronomical theatre is set in an auditorium with a large circular table that can accommodate 20 diners. A pixelperfect 3D multimedia performance is projected across the curved walls and the adorned table, providing a visual feast for the eyes. Audiovisual multimedia content complements each course of the performance, enhancing the overall experience.

One of the highlights of the show is the dish inspired by Nicholas Roerich’s Himalayas (Blue Mountain) from 1939. Chef Mukhin has created a fragrant Artichoke Curry, with a Coconut Rice accompaniment that when stirred, reveals Roerich’s paint strokes, hues of sunrise in scarlet incandescent orange of pumpkin and sweet potato. The

dish captures the essence of Roerich’s mastery capturing light and provides a unique sensory experience for diners for sure we won’t unveil.

Another standout dish is the Black Cod, Plum and Fig, inspired by Ivan Aivazovsky’s The 9th Wave from 1850. Chef Mukhin’s impressions captured on an unforgettable journey sailing through a storm in the Norwegian Fjords are transformed into a dish that transports diners to Aivazovsky’s painting. Thin slices of plum represent the beauty, power, and movement of the waves, while the black cod provides a salty contrast to the sweetness of the fruit.

Hosted in the heart of Downtown Dubai at The Address Downtown Hotel, Krasota Dubai’s Imaginary Art show sets a new standard for innovation in the industry. The show blends some of the greatest romantic artwork with modern visual projections and culinary excellence, creating a truly memorable experience. The show consists of a welcome Amuse Bouche, eight courses, and eight visual acts, with two signature drink pairings served in the intervals.

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Enjoy restaurant cuisine in the comfort of your home with Private Chef Vanessa Bayma

‘Bringing the flavors and sophistication of restaurant-quality cuisine to the comfort of your own villa is an exceptional experience. As a private chef, I have the privilege of crafting personalized menus and preparing exquisite dishes that surpass expectations.’

In an era where discerning individuals seek unique and personalized dining experiences, hiring a private chef has become the epitome of gastronomic indulgence. Chef Vanessa Bayma understands the desire for extraordinary meals crafted with care and expertise, and she takes pride in delivering a level of culinary excellence that surpasses expectations.

With a passion for global flavors, fusion cooking and culinary innovation, Chef Bayma curates personalized menus that are tailored to each client’s tastes, preferences, and dietary requirements. From tantalizing appetizers to sumptuous main courses and delectable desserts, every dish is meticulously crafted to elevate the dining experience and delight the palate.

With the services offered by private chef Vanessa Bayma and her talented CBC team, individuals can now savor gourmet dishes without leaving the cozy surroundings of their villa or vacation rental. Whether you are hosting an intimate dinner party or simply seeking a memorable culinary journey for yourself and your loved ones, Chef Bayma’s highly skilled team will cater to

your every need and elevate your dining experience.

“Bringing the flavors and sophistication of restaurant-quality cuisine to the comfort of your own villa is an exceptional experience. As a private chef, I have the privilege of crafting personalized menus and preparing exquisite dishes that surpass expectations.

“With attention to detail and a passion for culinary artistry, I aim to create a dining experience that rivals the finest establishments. From the moment I step into your kitchen, my goal is to transform your villa into a haven of gastronomic delight, where every bite is a celebration of flavors and every meal becomes an unforgettable memory,” said Private Chef Vanessa Bayma.

Experience the flavors of the world without leaving the comfort of your own villa. Private Chef Vanessa Bayma is committed to curating an unforgettable dining experience that transports you to the finest restaurants across the globe. From romantic dinners for two to celebratory feasts, her expertise and dedication to culinary excellence make every meal a cherished memory.


48 hours in Georgia

‘Flying to Kutaisi and spending some five hours on the bus to Tbilisi wasn’t easy and it’s very exhausting. Hungry, I had this beef stew called Kharcho, a traditional Georgian soup with very rich flavors, and spices, and that made the meat very tender.’

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Meet Maria, whom I met on the metro and instantly became friend with.


I flew to Kutaisi, a city in west Georgia that is home to the centuries-old Bagrati Cathedral, and decided to get a bus to Tbilisi after being mesmerized by the place.

On the Kutaisi’s outskirts is the Gelati Monastery, a medieval cathedral with elaborate frescoes. The nearby hillside Motsameta Monastery has martyrs’ remains. Historical Georgian manuscripts, ceramics and textiles are on display at the Kutaisi State Historical Museum. To the northwest, Prometheus Cave features petrified waterfalls. Lovely indeed!

I know it sounds weird to fly to Kutaisi rather than just fly straight to Tbilisi instead. My plan was just to unwind and enjoy the weather in Kutaisi. It was a spontaneous trip to Tbilisi, so I decided to spend the night and get some rest.

Flying to Kutaisi and spending some five hours on the bus to Tbilisi wasn’t easy and it’s very exhausting. Hungry, I had this beef stew called Kharcho, a traditional Georgian soup with very rich flavors, and spices, and that made the

meat very tender.

And I also got an incredible thick choco for dessert.

Tbilisi has always been a good place to chill and enjoy the food. The people are very accommodating. The children and elders love to give you a flower to show they are happy to see you. That’s their way of breaking the language barrier. Amazing.

The following morning, I decided to go to the Sagarejo region which is 45 mins away from Tbilisi. The town dates back to the 11th century and is where is the fortified ruins of the ancient Ninotsminda Cathedral can be found.

From Sagarejo, I went to a vineyard named “Gurami Papa’s Winery”. Guro the owner, let us (with co-travelers) experience the beverage from different types of grapes.

According to archaeologists, Georgia, home to a 12th century, sprawling cave monastery and the old town’s labyrinth of cobblestone streets, is also an ancient wine-growing region, with evidence of production dating back to 6,000

BC. And one hears stories of friendly villagers offering their cellar grapes to visitors.

And so, grapes tasting in the Sagarejo region was one of my favorite and best experiences in my 48-hour trip.

Guro served us a charcuterie board with some cheese, traditional churchkhela, pickles, and some bread with different dressings. Churchkhela is a traditional Georgian candle-shaped candy.

Guro also offered a traditional barbecue dinner and degustation classes for Georgian food making.

All said, it was indeed a fun 48 hours!

Next stop: Spain.

For more information, group classes and amazing experiences. Check them out at Mobile: +995 557 42 8941 Instagram: bestwineryever Tripadvisor: Gurami Papa’s Winery Facebook: Gurami Papa’s Winery Email: bestwineryever@gmail. com

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