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- Chef Thierry goes molecular


- Health and hygiene matter


- Check out the food from Cuba





EDITORIAL It’s one thing to make mistakes so that customers complain; it’s another not to address the issues or take feedback seriously.


FROM THE WALK-IN Those crazy Dutch! They’re now trying to make us all eat mealworms. And over in the USA, food service from petrol stations is on a dramtic rise.


THE EGGS FACTOR As Senior Lecturer and Director of Culinary Arts at The Emirates Academy of Hospitality Management, Michael Kitts is a popular and highly visible figure in the UAE F&B world. But what’s in his fridge?


OUT AND ABOUT Following the success of its three specialist food exhibitions, DWTC is already talking up larger shows next autumn.


MARKET FOCUS Strong initiatives from Dubai Municipality have placed food safety and hygiene issues at the heart of the F&B sector, but how do chefs keep the momentum moving so that hygiene is second nature?


PRODUCT FOCUS From the food of the gods through a period when it was the reserve of the wealthy to today’s ubiquitous commodity, we look at chocolate.

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TOQUE TO ME Bernard Loiseau went from apprentice to his third Michelin star in just two decades. Then, at the height of his fame, he committed suicide.


SKILLS Chef Tarek Ibrahim offers a rump masterclass, focusing on how to separate the rump’s main three muscles.


PIMP MY PLATE Chef Gabi Kurz, Resort Wellbeing Chef at Madinat Jumeirah, tackles the meatfest that is the French country classic Cassoulet and makes a vegetarian version.


ON THE PASSE Benoit Cart, Executive Sous Chef at Emirates Golf Club, is determined to make the menu at Le Classique more modern, without scaring away longtime diners.


FACE TO FACE Chef Thierry Marx and Chef Margot Janse offer their perspectives from france and South Africa.


MENU DEVELOPMENT Chef Stefan Czapalay shares some thoughts on menu development and some recent recipes.


TRAVEL Food from Cuba and Ethiopia.


THE LAST WORD Possibly a $200 solution in search of a problem, but the the Spin Zester is a cool way of delivering citrus zest


30 09 48




Customer disservice Over the last month or so, I’ve witnessed three cases of customer relations by restaurants that sharply define the dining out experience for many people. Most extreme was the mauling given to leading food blogger FooDiva by Milan-based Chef Andrea Brambilla, defending rudely the reputation of the new outpost of his Giannino restaurant that has opened at Meydan Beach Club. There might conceivably have been some excuse if FooDiva’s review had been savage, but she was generally complimentary and merely raised a caveat at the prices.


Needless to say, Dubai’s blooger and food community erupted in support, the story went viral across Europe and now the chef has issued a rather grudging and less than graceful apology. I don’t know what lasting damage he did to the newly opened restaurant but I suspect that this will be a model case in future for how not to handle PR.


Next, a Dhs 600 gourmet meal with matched Taittinger Champagne and a chance to meet the head of the house was marred for all 80+ diners by the hotel’s complete inability to maintain any kind of schedule. Canapes and drinks at 7pm? Try 7.45pm. Dinner at 8pm? Try after 9pm! If a 5-star hotel can’t manage a banquet for 80 people then it should seriously reconsider its game!


Senior Sales Manager: ANKIT SHUKLA ankit@cpidubai.com +971 55 2572807 ALEX BENDIOUIS alex@cpidubai.com +971 50 458 9204


Course one which took an hour to arrive after we sat down consisted of three small oysters - not a challenge for any kitchen you’d think. My non-meat second course was cold as were the vegetables for the third course - a trick almost impossible to duplicate when the pan-roasted sea bass was woefully overcooked. We had to beg the waiters for more Champagne, which only arrived after I told the floor manager that he could either bring Champagne or invite the chef from behind his stove to explain his inability to cater properly. Every restaurant has bad days. I understand that. But surely not at a gala dinner? One of my colleagues has already cancelled her wedding reception there, despite the promised views of horses grazing and the nearby hum of Dragon Mart. So is it all bad news? Not at all. I recently enjoyed the special truffle menu at Certo in Radisson Blue DMC. A gourmet friend of mine was inspired by my reaction but had a disappointing meal. Knowing that the hotel GM is proud of his F&B, I dropped him a note and almost at once got a call from the restaurant manager asking for my friend’s contact details. He invited her to come back for a complimentary meal, treated her well on the night and even got her tickets to the hotel’s next wine tasting. The result? A very happy diner who is telling all her friends. Customer service isn’t that difficult, is it? What is depressing is that the Certo experience seems not to be the standard any more.

PRINTED BY Printwell Printing Press LLC, Dubai, UAE PUBLISHED BY

Head Office, PO Box 13700, Dubai, UAE Tel: +971 4 440 9100 Fax: +971 4 447 2409 Group Office, Dubai Media City Building 4, Office G08, Dubai, UAE A publication licensed by IMPZ © Copyright 2013 CPI. All rights reserved. While the publishers have made every effort to ensure the accuracy of all information in this magazine, they will not be held responsible for any errors therein.

From the walk-in

Mealworm fried rice Serves 2

Ready for a Bug Mac? Want to eat sustainably? Then eat bugs say the Dutch, who are pioneering the scientific case for the environmental benefits of insect proteins. They claim that changing our diet so drastically will reduce greenhouse gases, produce more edible protein and use less land than more traditional livestock.


ivestock take up about 75% of the world’s agricultural land as well as being a major source of greenhouse gases, accounting for about 15% of emissions caused by humans. And the comparison figure for bugs? Until Dennis Oonincx, a graduate student at Wageningen University in Holland, got to work, nobody had a real idea. He’s been looking at mealworms, really the larvae of the mealworm beetle, Tenebrio molitor, more commonly thought of as fishing bait. Donincx believes that to wean us off mediumrare steaks, all we need to do is understand the environmental impact of meat production from mealworm farming, so he’s been measuring land use, energy needs and greenhouse gas emissions. His results, published in the journal PLoS ONE, showed that mealworms need just 10% of the land needed to produce an equivalent amount of beef, including the land needed to grow feed grains and forage. Mealworms feed on grains and carrots, by the way. However, it does take more energy to produce a kilo of bug protein than it does to get edible protein from milk or chicken, because they need heat in order to grow and prosper. Oonincx concludes that mealworms “produce much less [greenhouse gas] and require much less land, than chickens, pigs and cattle. With land availability being the most stringent limitation in


sustainably feeding the world’s population, this study clearly shows that mealworms should now be considered as a more sustainable alternative to milk, chicken, pork, and beef.” And one Dutch restaurant has already included mealworms as part of its bug buffet. The Specktakel restaurant in Haarlem is, however, used to shocking its customers. “They just read the first two things in the sentence and then they think they’ve got the bobotie pie with pumpkin mash, raisins and watercress,” says owner Mark Cashoek. “And the last word is actually the insect crumble.” Head Chef, Michiel den Hartogh, assembles a ‘crispy cricket’ dish, complete with curried mayonnaise, crocodile pie and fried crickets, with special care. “Just eat it,” he says. “Not so crazy.” However, Cashoek isn’t yet ready for Specktakel to be known as just the ‘bug restaurant’, but there is one insect item on the menu at all times. Its special, all-insect evenings get a warm reception from customers. “It is the fear factor and it is the gimmick that they’d try something like that,” he says of diners who pay more than $70 for the meal. Currently, the European Union is investing more than $4m to research the use of insects as a protein source for humans. Will the rising price of meat help change diets? Proponents of insect diets say that if a Big Mac is going to cost about $100 and a Bug Mac is going to cost only $4, people will change. The challenge? Making them nice to eat.

Ingredients: 1 cup shrimp or mealworms 1 egg, beaten 1 tsp oil 3/4 cup water 1/4 cup chopped onion 4 tsp soy sauce 1/8 tsp garlic powder 1 cup rice Method: 1 Mealworms come in a container with either bran or crumpled newspaper. To separate the mealworms from the packing material, place in colander and gently toss. Remove dead mealworms and any other bits of debris. Wash mealworms in colander under cool water. Place on paper towel and pat dry. They are now ready for cooking. 2

Place paper towel on roasting pan. Spread mealworms on paper towel and place in 200C oven for one to two hours until they are thoroughly dry and crunchy.


Butter baking pan. Coarsely chop dry-roasted mealworms and set aside. Carefully heat sugar and butter in saucepan until boiling. Stir over medium heat for seven minutes. Remove from heat and stir in roasted insects. Pour into pan.


Scramble egg in a saucepan, stirring to break egg into pieces. Add water, soy sauce, garlic and onions. Bring to a boil then stir in rice. Cover, remove from heat and let stand five minutes.


Stir in mealworms.

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From the walk-in

Food, not gas or smoke In the US, food service sales are increasingly becoming convenience stores’ most profitable category, according to recent research.


ood service is a key area of opportunity for convenience stores. As revenues from petrol and tobacco products fall, food service sales are increasingly becoming convenience stores’ most profitable category. Convenience store food service is now an $11b industry and the second largest retail food service category behind supermarkets in the US. The convenience store segment comprises about 29% of retail food service and almost 2% of the total food service industry. The research group Technomic projects that convenience store food service will grow nominally by 2.5% over each of the next two years. “Convenience stores have shifted their focus to provide a wider variety of fresh, high-quality food offerings to help gain a greater share of stomach


and compete with restaurants,” says the Director of Research and Consulting Services Tim Powell. “At the same time, there seems to be significant room for convenience store operators to generate increased foodservice sales by translating existing traffic into purchases.” Convenience store chains are looking to better position themselves for continued growth in food service. Some chains are upgrading their facilities by integrating technology in order to enhance their offerings and the consumer experience. Differentiating themselves from the convenience store crowd could better position themselves to compete with limited-service restaurants. Technomic industry and chain data enables the ‘Market Intelligence Report: Convenience Stores’ to define the convenience store food service segment,

identify the leaders, analyse performance and identify trends. Noteworthy findings include: ‡ More than half of consumers (52%) pick up snacks from prepared-food sections of convenience stores or mini-marts, compared to 37% in 2010. ‡ Almost one in four consumers (22%) occasionally has breakfast from a convenience store during the week, compared to only 12% three years ago. ‡ 13% purchase breakfast from convenience stores on the weekends versus 7% previously. ‡ During the week, just one in five consumers surveyed indicated that they purchase lunch from retail food service locations such as grocery stores (20%) and convenience stores (17%), while 56% purchase lunch from a fast food restaurant.

The eggs factor


The eggs factor

Kitts in the kitchen

As Senior Lecturer and Director of Culinary Arts at The Emirates Academy of Hospitality Management, Michael Kitts is a popular and highly visible figure in the UAE F&B world. One of the pioneers of the shift of top-level chefs from the UK to Dubai, he was honoured last year by the UK Craft Guild of Chefs. More importantly, however, what’s in his fridge?


ell known in regional and global chef competitions as competitor or judge, Chef Mick Kitts began his formal training at Thanet Technical College in Kent, where he formed a longlasting friendship with Chef Gary Rhodes. Probably best known for his work in mentoring and training younger chefs, he led Team Jumeirah to 14 gold medal successes in Le Salon Culinaire International de Londres 2012 at Hotelympia and, in the same year, was awarded the People’s Choice Award at the Craft Guild of Chefs Awards, for outstanding contribution to the F&B industry. He joined the Jumeirah Group and moved to Dubai in 2001, before taking a leading role at The Emirates Academy of Hospitality Management. He is still somewhat in shock at last year’s prestigious award. Why does he think he won it? “I think I won for two reasons. I have a very solid background in competitions, in mentoring and teaching, starting at Thanet College and now with Jumeirah. And I’m still involved in the London scene with Hotelympia and so on.” He began his career at Claridge’s Hotel and then moved on to work for renowned private clubs, such as the Garrick Club in London. He later worked as Sous Chef for London’s Ritz Casino and Inter-Continental Hotel, before moving to Bristol as Executive Chef for the Swallow Royal Hotel. He returned to London as Executive Chef for the prestigious Les Ambassadeurs Club, before joining

MICHAEL KITTS’ CAREER HIGHLIGHTS 1974-77 Trained at Thanet Technical College 1977 First job as commis Chef at Claridge’s 1981 Appointed lecturer at Thanet Technical College 1986 First executive Sous Chef position at the Ritz Casino 1991 First Executive Chef role at the Swallow Royal Hotel, Bristol 1996 Excutive Chef/Culinary Director, Butlers Wharf Chef School, London 2000 Runner-up in Natinal Chef of the Year 2001 Moved to Dubai 2010 Director of Culinary Arts, The Emirates Academy of Hospitality Management

the Butler’s Wharf Chef School as Culinary Director/ Executive Chef. When asked if it is important to be actively involved in competitions to make progress with your career, his reply was typical. “Some people say it’s a good thing while others disagree. For me, it’s a place where you get new ideas. I think live competitions are good fun. I got a lot out of it as I travelled the world and saw things I otherwise would never have seen. It’s something you either love or hate and I don’t think there’s any in between.”


And in his fridge? “A real cornucopia” is how Mick Kitts would describe his fridge. “We do have a few newcomers from time to time; we are big on condiments, jams and marmalades and my biggest vice - cheese! But in general the following can always be found.” ‡ Sauvignon blanc - purely medicinal! ‡ Half bottle of Lemoncello we picked it up in on holiday in Umbria two years ago! ‡ Fresh orange juice ‡ Nice chunk of Parmesan ‡ Zanithaine (I think) shrimp and crab boil ‡ Some nice olives ‡ Sliced smoked ham ‡ Good selection of fresh berries ‡ Eggs ‡ Salami and, from time to time, a German sausage ready for the barbie! ‡ Salad items - the constant diet! ‡ Always some form of chilli, fresh, paste or sauce, I love chilli! ‡ John West tinned tuna and salmon - my wife Debs’ lunches! ‡ Milk, of course ‡ My grapefruit marmalade from Baker & Spice superb! ‡ Followed closely by M&S lemon curd ‡ Tube of tomato puree (Waitrose) ‡ Mayonnaise (Hellmans light) ‡ Alonso mangoes for the breakfast smoothie! ‡ Smoked mackerel (Severn & Wye) - lovely


Out and about

Getting more special DWTC plans even bigger 2013 specialist food shows as the region’s appetite for gourmet and fine foods grows, after SEAFEX, The Speciality Food Festival and Sweets & Snacks Middle East reported strong sales and excellent results for 2012.


ith this year’s Gulfood almost upon us, DWTC is already looking ahead to the autumn and the next iterations of the spun-out shows SEAFEX, The Speciality Food Festival and Sweets & Snacks Middle East - all of which had record results last year. Organisers of the region’s top three gourmet food shows have confirmed even bigger plans for 2013 and the shows will take place from 17-19th November 2013 at the Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC). Notably, a substantial 35% increase in exhibition space has been allocated to the shows to accommodate exhibitor demand.


This increase is due to excellent sales, strong order books and many promising new business relationships reported by exhibitors at the close of last year’s three trade shows that provide the only dedicated platforms in the Middle East for niche sectors enjoying strong growth in the region: seafood, gourmet and fine food ingredients, plus confectionery and snacks. Organised by DWTC, the three shows welcomed 11,582 targeted F&B and hospitality professionals to source new ingredients and products, identify new suppliers and secure distributor contracts for the lucrative MENA region. 2012’s shows saw a 22% increase in visitors compared to 9,436 visitors

in the previous year. “As the organisers of Gulfood, the single largest annual food trade show in the world, the DWTC team brings unrivalled experience to these three specialist shows within the same industry. We are pleased to announce that the 2013 edition will be the largest to date due to overwhelmingly positive results for our exhibitors, both in terms of being able to reach the right target audience, and in the lucrative deals concluded,” said Trixee Loh, Senior Vice President, DWTC. “With more than 330 exhibitors from around the world across the three shows this year, visitors have been able to access an unbelievably well-stocked pantry of ultra-premium fine food products and ingredients - something which is becoming increasingly important as the region’s appetite for fine dining grows.” SEAFEX, the largest dedicated seafood exhibition in the Middle East, which launched this year, was particularly well received in a region where fish often tops the menu. A total of 21 country pavilions, from countries as far afield as Canada, China, Spain, Peru, Yemen and Vietnam, enjoyed the highly targeted platform that the show provided. British Columbia Gourmet Food, an exportdriven food company focused on delivering a premium Canadian food portfolio to international food markets, reported high levels of interest and a number of potential sales within the first few days of the show. According to President and CEO, Robert Davidson: “We are extremely pleased with the number of potential enquiries that we have received from serious customers and the networking opportunities the exhibition has provided to meet with qualified business partners from the MENA region and beyond. We have definitely met our objective to create market awareness in the UAE, GCC, and Middle East Region for our Canadian Sustainability natural foods programme.”

Out and about The French Pavilion, which had the largest presence yet in the show history with over 12 French businesses exhibiting and a 25% increase in space over the 2011 edition, was very pleased with the opportunity that the show provided in raising the profile of its exhibitors among sector professionals, especially French beef, now available in the UAE for the first time in ten years. First time exhibitors included Artisan du Chocolat, a UK manufacturer of luxury chocolates. Founder Anne Weyns, said: “The Middle East has always been a priority market for us, with our premium chocolates receiving a number of private orders for weddings and functions in the UAE and KSA. This is the first trade show we have attended in the region and has been ideal for us to meet new and existing customers face-to-face. After the level of interest we have received and the contacts made, we are confident that we will be able to open shops in the UAE and KSA within the next eighteen months.” Solid contracts were also signed by Avalon, a UK manufacturer of Halal Italian flat bread and pizza. Mohammad Nazir Mackmood, Sales Director, Avalon said: “We have potentially secured over Dhs 17m worth of business at the show with deals made in the Middle East as well as from the subcontinent.” The region’s largest and most influential trade show for the snack and confectionery industry, Sweets and Snacks Middle East, provided a truly international platform for product selection,

with more than 122 exhibitors from 29 countries showcasing both sweet and savoury snacks and confectionery. Special features taking place during the shows included a full schedule of inspiring cooking demonstrations from some of Dubai’s top chefs at the dedicated Chef’s Corner. Presented by the Baking and Pastry Guild, the demonstrations complemented the gourmet show’s position as a forum for specialist buyers, chefs and suppliers to review, showcase and sample products and also as a meeting place for networking and active business transactions. Delegates to the region’s first Food Logistics Forum benefited from the expertise of more than 150 global and regional logistics business leaders addressing industry concerns as well as participating in interactive workshops that discussed market growth opportunities.

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Cleaning up Hygiene and food safety remain vital subjects for everyone involved in F&B, especially with strict regulations now in place. But how do you keep the subject vital and front of mind day after day? And does a total commitment to hygiene offer a way for a restaurant to differentiate itself in an increasingly competitive market? We talk to a number of industry players.


Market focus


ould you say in food hygiene and safety issues, that Dubai is leading the field? What accounts for that? Gilles Perrin: I think Dubai has taken the right approach when it comes to food hygiene and safety, but as in every project there is still a long way to go! And the gap between a 5-star hotel and a coffee shop is still very big. Ben Tobitt: I would say Dubai is now certainly up there with the best for food hygiene and safety procedures now. I think there has been much more research and training with regards to this since I was first here in 2009. There are a lot more restaurants here now and customers’ safety has to be paramount. Bobby Krishna Thulasi: Dubai is the only city in the region that has a foodborne disease surveillance system in place. The sytem links hospitals to Dubai Health Authority and the Food Control department. The system helps us to track foodborne diseases fast, analyse trends and gives valuable feedback in the formulation of food safety regulations. It also helps us to launch investigations of illness quickly. Dubai regulations mandate that food establishments should have a food safety management system in place. HACCP is a preventive approach to keep food safe. HACCP was introduced first in the region in Dubai and almost all the major food facilities in Dubai are HACCP certified. Dubai also requires managers in food establishments to be competent in food safety. They have to undergo training and examination before they are certified as Person in Charge of food safety. This ensures better managerial control on food safety. Dubai Municipality is also introducing food safety awards that will be announced shortly as a reward to encourage food establishments. Michael Wunsch: I think that Dubai has covered a lot of distance since 1996, which is when I first came here. A handful of hotels, together with the Municipality, developed the first food safety programme calling this Assured Safe Catering. Today, most of the hospitality industry, restaurants and suppliers are HACCP certified. This certification took decades to achieve in Europe, so I think that Dubai is well placed and on par in this regard. Also, with the Municipality and all players in the industry working closely together, ensuring a major focus on regulations and standards, Dubai will certainly be well placed among the safest places in the world with regards to food safety and health. Uwe Micheel: Dubai leading the field? Maybe not in the world, but I do believe for sure in the Middle East and Africa. If we look at the achievements in the last few years, if you look at where we were 15 years back sure the team has done a great job.


GILLES PERRIN Executive Sous Chef Atlantis The Palm

BEN TOBITT Head Chef The Ivy, Dubai

BOBBY KRISHNA THULASI Senior Food Studies and Surveys Officer Food Control Dept Dubai Municipality

MICHAEL WUNSCH Chef and MD Barakat Quality Plus

UWE MICHEEL Director of Kitchens Radisson Blu Hotel, Dubai Deira Creek President, Emirates Culinary Guild

about such issues in a kitchen? Do you feel you get support from manufacturers to ensure that kitchen staff keep hygiene foremost in their minds? Perrin: It is all about training and commitment. If you are working in an organisation with a strong leadership commitment, it is much easier to pass the message to the line staff - as we say, walk the talk! As a matter of fact nowadays, if you want to succeed in this business you have to understand the importance of food safety and hygiene regulation. More and more companies are going now for HACCP and ISO certification and in the near future it will become a selling tool for our marketing department. When it comes to training we have, in Atlantis, a great team of professionals who are constantly pushing for that. Tobitt: I am very lucky as there is a lot of focus on food hygiene and safety with Jumeirah. We have weekly audits, training programmes both from the company and the manufactures. There are daily check lists that are completed and this ensures the staff take hygiene and safety very seriously. Thulasi: Management commitment is the starting point. We find it difficult to improve establishments where the top management is not keen on food safety. Even in small businesses, when managers and owners are not interested in food safety, things go wrong. A good manager will

employ good staff, train them well and provide facilities to ensure that staff can carry out their work properly. Note that resources are the key. A good manager or owner should also be a role model. Do things right and others will follow. For example, if a manager washes his/her hands everytime he/she walks in to the kitchen, staff are likely to pick up the same habits. In the same way, the staff also pick up bad habits if the manager demonstrates bad habits. Wunsch: The focus should not be on the manufacturers, but rather on the staff itself. Most of our kitchen staff are untrained and have low education when they start as a commis three or helpers in the kitchen or food manufacturing areas and most of the countries that they come from have a very low hygiene as well as personal hygiene standards. Only by us training them, ideally in their languages, can all hygiene related issues can be tackled and highly maintained. Micheel: It’s a challenge to keep the awareness level in the team high at all times. It requires constant training, refreshers and reminders. The equipment is of course improving as well the development of improving equipment does not stop, but at the end is always the team on the floor which is fully responsible for food safety.

How hard is to maintain a constant awareness

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Market focus What are the hidden danger areas in a kitchen? And how are you working to address them? Perrin: People without knowledge in kitchen organisation and operation who take silly decisions without consulting the professionals. And people who still believe that the system for food safety that we are trying to put into place is not needed and that we are just creating additional paperwork for them. Tobitt: I would say that the receiving of produce is one of the main concerns as the products are coming from all over the world and you are never 100% certain of how they have been handled. The way we control this is by temperature probing everything as it arrives and sanitising. Something I have insisted on is traceability of all protein items. Thulasi: The industry has to understand the risks associated with food better. We offer a wide range of food, some cooked and some raw. We need to improve the way we handle high risk foods such as cooked foods that are ready to eat, salads etc. If contaminated, such foods can harm the consumer. Hold hot food hot enough and cold food cold enough and most of our problems are solved. Cross contamination is another thing to worry about. Keep ready to eat foods away from raw foods to prevent contamination. Wunsch: Most hidden dangers exist because of people’s ignorance in these areas. A lack of basic training and unawareness to how food should be properly handled can create challenging situation in this part of the world. Health and food education as well as personal hygiene are often overlooked and this can create hidden dangers within the kitchen area. However, with correct training programmes and hygiene checks by the hygiene officers, (which most hotels have now implemented) spreading the awareness of the importance of these issues and implementing some ‘common sense’ will certainly help to improve and irradicate or at least lessen these issues. I believe that through daily basic training in food hygiene and practical explanations to the staff in their first month working in the kitchen will help to guide them to a better standard of hygiene and sanitation practice. Micheel: The hidden danger area is temperature control, especially in our climate. It’s very important to really follow cook and chill etc. Control involves a lot of paperwork, constant temperature controls, checklists and audits - that’s what HACCP is about. Are the on-going regulations from Dubai

Municipality reducing reported instances of ‘food poisoning’? Perrin: I’m sorry but I’m not sure what you are referring to. Tobitt: I am aware of a few serious incidents and I think its completely the right thing for the Municipality to have these regulations in place. It’s about the customer at the end of the day. Micheel: Yes, I do believe the risk has dropped a lot. With HACCP and PICs in place in most places, the risk of food related Issues has dropped big time. Have you faced any problems with the PIC scheme? Perrin: Not at all. And I think it is really good programme, especially for a big organisation like ours. You can’t expect your hygiene manager to be accountable for the whole hotel and, with this programme, it makes people accountable for their own departments. Tobitt: None as yet. We have to have three PICs myself, my sous chef and the restaurant manager.

Micheel: No, I did not face any challenges. The PICs scheme gives a lot more responsibilities to the guys, it’s basically empowerment when it comes to sharing responsibilitie. And, with the additional audits, we also got another point of control. Is hygiene an area that procurement managers are tempted to make savings on? Is this a market driven by price? Perrin: Thanks to God not in our organisation! And it should be the last thing to do. It is about passion, as long as chefs are able to choose their product it shouldn’t be a problem. Unfortunately, a lot of hotel chefs are not able to choose their product anymore, as it is dictated by procurement so, yes, the market can be driven by price. Tobitt: There are certainly no savings made on this by Jumeirah, but I cannot speak for others. A budget is put aside to ensure food hygiene and safety is of the highest standards. Thulasi: This depends on the top management attitude to food safety. Cost is important, but savings have to be made through better food



Market focus

THE VENDOR APPROACH How do manufacturers approach the area of food safety and kitchen hygiene? How do they compete in such a vital but unglamorous market segment. we take the comments of Chandan Singh, Deputy GM of Dhofar Global.

safety, better shelf life, less wastage and good consumer support. Using inferior materials, whether it is food or equipment, leads to losses in the long run. Micheel: I do not believe that responsible companies are saving on hygiene or hygienic products although, of course, like with anything else the purchasing team is responsible for getting the best product for the best price. Important hygiene and food safety rules mean a lot more Investment and expenses for the industry but I believe it was and is a very Important Investment. When personally dining out, how conscious are you of food safety issues in the restaurant? Perrin: For sure, if the restaurant has a bad reputation, I will avoid it, but normally it is not something I am looking at much. Tobitt: I am confident when dining out now. I think that the consequences are so severe now that nearly everyone is on top of things. Thulasi: I am conscious about the type of food that I eat. If I am unsure about the hygiene, I try to eat well cooked food, served hot. I eat salads and food that are eaten raw, such as sushi, from restaurants that I know are very good. Wunsch: I think that every chef will be extra cautious and alert if we asked to have a peek in their kitchens! In general however, I trust the Municipality to have things under control and ensure that a high sanitation and hygiene standard is maintained in Dubai. If you are feeling unsure about the standards of a particular restaurant, I would definitely say don’t eat there as you can never be too safe! If you can see that the food always looks freshly made though, there should be no problem. Food poisoning can strike in a variety of ways, whether caused by an ice cube which has

Hygiene is a set of habits that enable you to be clean, neat and healthy and also create a happier environment. Good set of practices towards food hygiene and safety are essential and one way of approaching this is to use colour codification. This we use in most of our products, as we approach the subject scientifically. Take, for example, our J Cloth Cleaning Wipes, which use non-woven cloth to create an ideal way to prevent cross contamination and meet HACCP standards by colour codification. So there are red wipes to be used in the butchery area, green wipes to be used in the vegetable section, blue wipes to be used for general cleaning purposes and yellow wipes for the disinfection of kitchen appliances. All of that encourages good working habits but the wipes have other advantages such as being better for the environment as, at the time of disposal, they can be used in a closed composting loop. There’s no contamination in case of direct or indirect contact with food and they provide better dirt pick up due to open weave. Above all, they support HACCP regulations. What we’re seeing increasingly is the replacement of the traditional cook’s towel with a non-woven wipe partly because their semi-open structure allows quick drying so reducing the risk of bacteria growth, partly because of their absorbency which is up to nine times the wipe’s weight, partly because of its durability and partly because its high bulk and thickness make it suitable for handling hot dishes. Extending this colour coding to other areas also increases efficiency and reduces food risk. For example, you can use colour-coded tissue paper for different areas of operation, such as blue for the back of house or kitchen area so you could easily see it if mixed with milk or cheese. Guest areas will use white and for general purposes green. All of these things help to keep a constant awareness of hygiene issues in a kitchen, but maintaining that is a constant process and we need to keep striving towards it. I believe it can only be executed through demonstration. For example, there is often a hesitation towards change - a

been produced in an unclean ice machine or meats not being cooked completely. Both can do a lot of harm. The problem is though, how many of us have the ability or opportunity to inspect the ice machine or even the hand that put it into the glass. Micheel: I do believe Dubai is pretty good when it comes to food safety, but, yes, I have left restaurants when I saw the place and staff dirty. Or at big catering events I look how the food is set or stored. For example, I went to an big outdoor event earlier this year, not in the UAE, when I saw

common challenge - however, once they continue for some time it becomes a routine. And we find that these practices can help kitchen staff to keep hygiene foremost in the mind. Firstly, a hygiene manager needs to monitor sheets every hour, there should be an appraisal point on how to follow colour codification, a scientific demonstration such as eye dilating test or pre and post production test, constant training on disposable hygiene products and, finally, a way of imparting knowledge on technological advancement in hygiene management system. In any kitchen, there are hidden areas which I would wish to highlight, such as the coffee tube, which is an integral area to be cleaned. In the world there are very few specialised wipes to be used for this and we intend to launch a range in due course. Then, as mentioned above, there’s the traditional cloth cook’s towel. I think colour coding workshops can make a huge difference in food hygiene and safety and extensive work has been done on the concept, which for reference is this: ‡ Blue - general resturant areas such as tables and trays. ‡ Green - general kitchen and food preperation areas. ‡ Red - washroom floors and toilet. ‡ Yellow - disinfection of kitchen and appliances. ‡ White - other general cleaning.

how long oysters and prawns were kept so I asked my wife not to touch them but stick to cheese and nuts. We learned that it was good choice - the next day many guests were ill! What one thing would make the biggest difference to food hygiene and safety? Do you notice less awareness of and commitment to such issues as you move down the value chain from 5-star to 1-star hotels? Perrin: Spot on, awareness. As we are in a country


Market focus with so much diversity, you can’t expect all food handlers to know the food safety regulations between Dubai and Abu Dhabi there are different regulations, for example. So a programme like PIC will certainly bring this awareness into all the food production areas of Dubai. Tobitt: Traceability, but I do think this becomes harder as you move down the chain. Thulasi: Top management attitude makes the biggest difference in hotels. Regardless of the size, people make a difference. Wunsch: Training and awareness are key when it comes to food hygiene and safety and I think that regardless of if you are running a 1- or a 5-star hotel, this element will set you apart. There are, of course, a variety of issues that can affect food hygiene and safety, including a lack of funds for training or being able to hire qualified training personnel. Big 5-star corporations are able to ensure better facilities, resources more qualified personnel which certainly makes a huge difference when comparing them to the little guys. If all food institutions, restaurants and hotels could take the time to ensure that their staff have at least a basic training in the importance of food hygiene and safety, the standards within the UAE will be increased dramatically. Micheel: I don’t think there should be a difference between 1- and 5-star or any restaurant. Food safety is important everywhere, but of course it has somewhat to do with culture, upbringing and education. The 5-stars have started earlier so they are still ahead, but I hope and believe others will catch up. How much do you feel customers value a stated commitment to food safety from a head chef or restaurant manager? Perrin: If the statement is what is really happening then I think it is a plus. Tobitt: Very highly, it is such a serious thing that I think the customer feels a lot happier with knowing how important it is to an outlet. Thulasi: As a customer, I would love to eat from a place where the people are committed to food safety. However, not all consumers can pick up visible cues of commitment. Often they may get distracted by the exterior of the restaurant than people. This is why it is important for the government to ensure that all managers are committed to food safety - don’t give them a choice not to be! Be food safe. Wunsch: Every kitchen’s executive chef is well aware of the hygienic state of their kitchen as well as their ability to trust and rely on their kitchen staff. They know what is acceptable and what is not as well as what needs to be improved but even so, there is never a 0% chance that food poisoning

“FOR CHEFS AND KITCHEN STAFF, IT IS THEIR RESPONSIBILITY TO HAVE A LOT OF COMMON SENSE, AN AWARENESS OF THE LATEST FOOD TRENDS, CONTINUOUS EVALUATION OF YOUR KITCHENS COOKING AND STORING HABITS OF FOOD INGREDIENTS AND NEVER UNDERESTIMATE THE POWER OF A THOROUGH HAND WASH BEFORE PREPARING OR EATING FOOD!” - Michael Wunsch will not happen within your kitchen, as there are many factors to consider beyond a commercial kitchen’s reach. I think though, that if a customer can see that a head chef is passionate about what he does, where he works and what he creates, they will definitely feel more comfortable eating at certain restaurants. The consumer does also have a responsibility though and needs to ensure that they don’t take culinary risks in terms of where and what they eat. If something on their plate does

not taste palatable, it is vital that they inform the kitchen staff to allow potential food poisoning to be contained. For chefs and kitchen staff, it is their responsibility to have a lot of common sense, an awareness of the latest food trends, continuous evaluation of your kitchen’s cooking and storing habits of ingredients food and never underestimate the power of a thorough hand wash before preparing or eating food!

Super–Twill Hygiene - So Advanced, it’s practically a towel! The FCC approved towel that belongs in every kitchen. DHOFAR GLOBAL TR.CO.L.L.C P.O.Box: 70580, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates Mobile: 050 631 6593, Tel: +971 6 5302525 / 5368690, Fax: +971 6 5302626 / 5368552 Email: chandan@dhofartr.com - dhofart@eim.ae www.dhofartr.com BRANCH: Dubai Investment Park - 1,W-16/598-289-Dubai, U.A.E. Tel: +971 4 8856556, Fax: +971 4 8856566

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ne of the key ways that Frenchwomen don’t get fat, according to the bestselling book, is that they eat chocolate. Or, rather, they eat small amounts of very high quality chocolate, thus deriving maximum pleasure without the weight gain. For many other nationalities, however, chocolate is something to be eaten with relish, in large amounts and at frequent intervals! But how much do we really know about this ingredient that neatly spans the sweet/savoury barrier in many cuisines? Here are a number of things you never knew about the seeds of the Cacao theobroma tree, beginning with the answer to why ‘cacao’ became ‘cocoa’. A spelling error by English traders some centuries ago. First things first. Chocolate is a food made from the seeds of the cacao tree, which flourishes in warm, moist climates. Largest producers are in West Africa - notably Ghana, the Ivory Coast and Nigeria - although high quality supplies are now emerging from the Caribbean and central America. It first became a food item to the Mayans, who established the earliest known cocoa plantations in the Yucatan in 600AD. It was even then considered a valuable commodity, used both as a means of payment and as units of calculation. They took beans from the cacao tree and made a drink they called xocolatl, believing that the seeds had been brought from Paradise and delivered wisdom and power. The beans arrived in Europe thanks to Christopher Columbus, but didn’t get much attention until 1519 when Spanish explorer Hernando Cortez saw Emperor Montezuma drinking chocolate laced with vanilla and spices, taken cold. As the Emperor drank it before visiting his harem, chocolate gained the reputation of being an aphrodisiac. Flash forward to 1657 and a Frenchman opened the first chocolate house in London. At this stage, it was a premium product out of reach of everybody apart from the rich. Globally the seeds were used as a common currency - in Nicaragua, for example, ten cocoa nibs would buy a rabbit and 100 a slave. It was also used as a remedy by leading physicans, perhaps most notably by Cardinal Richelieu’s doctors. However, it was the Industrial Revolution that became chocolate’s game changer, with mass production making it widely available. Eating chocolate had begun in the late 17th century in the form of rolls and cakes, served in specialist chocolate emporiums. According to Nestlé, four key factors have over the last two centuries driven chocolate into its ubiquity as a global food product:

Dulcey cranberry chocolate bar Makes 10 bars Ingredients: 750g Dulcey 32% chocolate 250g fried cranberries Method: 1 Chop the cranberries into even pieces. 2 Melt the Dulcey chocolate to 45C, temper it and pour into bar molds. Sprinkle 25g of chopped cranberries into each bar mold and tap lightly. 3 Leave to set at 17C.

Apricot verbena Makes two trays Ingredients: 180g caster sugar 300g apricot pulp 120g glucose 15g Tanariva 33% couverture 75g butter 3/4g fresh lemon verbena Method: 1 Process the lemon verbena and apricot pulp together with a hand blender. Stir in the glucose and warm the pulp hot. Cook the caster sugar dry to light brown caramel and deglaze with the hot pulp. Cook the lot back to 104C and strain through. Leave to cool down to 75/80C before making an emulsion with the 15g of Tanariva couverture. 2 At 35C, process the butter in with a hand blender and fill the Ivoirechocolate shells with the ganache. 3 Set aside to crystallise at 17C with 60% hygrometry for 12 hours. Temperature of the ganache must be below 30C to fill the chocolate shells.

Recipes supplied by the Valrhona l’Ecole du Grand Chocolat. ‡ The introduction of cocoa powder in 1828. ‡ The reduction of excise duties. ‡ Improvements in transportation facilities, from plantation to factory. ‡ The invention of eating chocolate and improvements in manufacturing methods. Annual world consumption of cocoa beans now

averages approximately 600,000 tons and per capita chocolate consumption continues to rise. This multi-billion dollar industry shows no sign of slowing down either, despite a growing awareness of obesity issues. But how is chocolate made? Workers cut open the pods of the cacao tree and scoop out the beans, which are allowed to ferment and then dry


Product focus before being cleaned, roasted and hulled. Once deshelled, they are called nibs and can be blended much like coffee beans to produce different colours and flavours. Next, they are ground to release the cocoa butter and the heat from the grinding process causes the mixture of cocoa butter and ground nibs to melt and form chocolate liquor, which is the basis for many different varieties of chocolate. Raw unprocessed chocolate is gritty, grainy and not suitable for eating. Swiss chocolate manufacturer Rudolph Lindt discovered a process of rolling and kneading chocolate that gives it a smooth and rich quality. This conching process is named from the shell-like shape of the rollers used and the longer chocolate is conched, the more luxurious the mouth feel. Depending on what is added to (or removed from) the chocolate liquor, different flavours and varieties of chocolate can be produced, each with a different chemical make-up. Importantly, different varieties will react differently to heat and moisture. Couverture (French for ‘covering’) is a special kind of chocolate that has more cocoa butter than normal chocolate, anywhere from 33% to 38% for a really good brand. This type of chocolate is used as a coating for things like truffles. But is chocolate really an aphrodisiac? Of course, it is the traditional gift of love and there is some evidence that the answer might be ‘yes’. It contains three substances, caffeine, theobromine and phenyethylamine that might have given rise to this myth. Caffeine acts as a stimulant, theobromine stimulates both the heart muscle and the nervous system and phenyethylamine is reportedly a mood elevator and an anti-depressant. So the combination gives you extra energy, making your heart beat faster, making you a bit jumpy and slightly giddy. As an aside, although there is less caffeine in chocolate that there is in a cup of coffee, people who are avoiding caffeine should unfortunately stay away from chocolate as well. There are about 30 milligrams of caffeine in your average chocolate bar, while a cup of coffee contains around 100 to 150 milligrams.

KNOW YOUR PRODUCT ‡ Unsweetened baking chocolate is simply cooled, hardened chocolate liquor, used as an ingredient in recipes or as a garnish. ‡ Semi-sweet chocolate is also used primarily in recipes. It has extra cocoa butter and sugar added. Sweet cooking chocolate is basically the same, with more sugar for taste. ‡ Milk chocolate is chocolate liquor with extra cocoa butter, sugar, milk and vanilla added. This is the most popular form for chocolate, primarily for eating. ‡ Cocoa is chocolate liquor with much of the cocoa butter removed, creating a fine powder. There are several kinds: low-fat cocoa which typically has less than 10% of cocoa


butter remaining, medium-fat cocoa which has anywhere from 10-22% cocoa butter in it and drinking or breakfast cocoa has over 22% left in it. Dutch process cocoa is cocoa which has been specially processed to neutralise the natural acids in the chocolate. It is slightly darker and has a much different taste than regular cocoa. ‡ White chocolate is somewhat of a misnomer in that it doesn’t contain cocoa solids, merely cocoa butter, sugar, milk and vanilla. ‡ Decorator’s chocolate or confectioner’s chocolate isn’t really chocolate at all, but a sort of chocolate flavored substance that is used for things such as covering strawberries. It melts easily and hardens quickly, but it isn’t chocolate.

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Abu Dhabi, UAE Tel : +971 2 5511830

Distributed by Chef Middle East LLC PO BOX 26747 - Dubai - UAE - Tel : +971 4 3473455 - www.chefmiddleeast.com Branch Offices: Doha, Qatar Umm Al Quwain Tel : +974 4602200 Tel : +971 6 7666437 Tain l’Hermitage - France - www.valrhona.com

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Toque to me

The tragedy of Loiseau Born in the Puy-de-Dôme, Bernard Loiseau was an apprentice in the kitchen at the Troisgros restaurant in Roanne from the age of 17. Two weeks after it started, it was awarded its third Michelin star. 20 years later, Loiseau won his own third star for Côte d’Or, in Saulieu. Then tragedy struck.


ernard Loiseau spent most of his child hood under his mother’s skirt tails in the family pork butcher’s shop. As he said, “I grew up amongst the terrines, the sausages and the calfs’ heads.” He would watch his mother boil the preserves in the laundry boiler on the stove. He learnt how to make blackcurrant liqueur by squeezing the fruit through a stocking and how to peel the ceps to go with the meat. Taste for the simple and direct was something that never left him as a professional chef. He loved the straightforward and flavourful dishes of his childhood. But one thing marked him out: he had the meticulous care and attention of an insatiable

perfectionist. And that can be dangerous. Loiseau started his apprenticeship at the age of 17 at Troisgros restaurant in Roanne. A fortnight after his arrival, he watched in wonder as it was awarded its third Michelin star. According to his widow Dominque, who now oversees Côte d’Or, “Bernard found all that fascinating and a light went on in his head, it was an illumination.” Chef Guy Savoy, also apprenticed to Troisgros at the same time, recalls his irrepressible desire to win three stars: “Bernard was ultra-sensitive, he had a virtually incredible clarity of vision, so much so that we already believed that our desires were in the realms of the possible. He was the only one of us

who dreamt of having three stars one day.” With his professional cookery qualification in his pocket by June 1971, he left to do his military service and, by chance, ran into a former colleague who was working for Claude Verger in Paris. He was offered a job. It was then that he began developing the style of cooking that would make his name as chef at the Barrière de Clichy. He developed his own style with water deglazing and women watching their weight became very keen on this lighter kind of cuisine with less cream and butter. The nouvelle vague was approaching. After a brief spell out of Paris, he was called back by Claude Verger who offered him the post

Once a simple coaching inn, under Loiseau the Côte d’Or became a major gastro stopping off point between Paris and the Mediterranean.


Toque to me of chef of a new restaurant in the Opèra district, La Barrière Poquelin. From 1974, food critics liked what he was doing and he began to be discussed as a ‘future great chef’. A year later, Verger bought the Côte d’Or, in Saulieu - a legendary property that had aged since the departure of its illustrious owner, Alexandre Dumaine, who ran it from 1930 to 1963, followed by François Minot till 1975. Loiseau, still only 24, took over. His dreams and ambitions now had a very solid platform to develop upon. It wasn’t easy, though. The staff didn’t initially take to the young revolutionary chef from Paris but he persevered. In two years, the restaurant gained its first Michelin star, followed by three toques and 17/20 from Gault Millau. He was on his way. Over the next few years, he built on his water deglazing technique and also began to focus on maximising pure, original flavours whilst limiting as far as possible his use of fats and sugar. The second Michelin star was awarded in 1981 and Loiseau became a media star with the publication of ‘L’Envolèe des saveurs’. The third star came ten years later in the week when his Bastien was born. The New York Times featured him on the front page. After that, what could he do? He did what he always done: he continued being a chronic


Simple style

perfectionist and workaholic. Dominique Loiseau recalls: “He was depressed every winter in January and February, because they were quiet months in Saulieu.” In 1983, he was more depressed than usual - a newspaper report had suggested that he might lose a star. One morning, Dominique found him dead in their bedroom - he had shot himself in the mouth with his hunting rifle, just a few days before the publication of the new Guide Michelin. Immediately the rumour mill started. Côte d’Or had lost a star - no, it hadn’t and Loiseau had already been told that by Michelin. Côte d’Or was in financial trouble - no, it wasn’t. The truth seems simple. after 37 years of driving himself, he was just tired, really tired. The strain of the constant drive to perfection was, in the end, just too much. And the world of gastronomy lost of its 20th century masters. Côte d’Or continued in his tradition, becoming, in 2003, the Relais Bernard Loiseau. His signature dishes remain. The property has been expanded and improved. But its heart had gone - the heart of a chef who lived and breathed cooking to an extreme. France lost a hero.

SIGNATURE DISHES ‡ Frogs’ legs on a puree of garlic and parsley coulis ‡ Crackly-skinned pike perch on a shallot melt, tangry red wine sauce ‡ Breast of farm chicken and pan-cooked foie gras with truffled potato puree ‡ Sand rose with pure chocolate ice-cream and coulis of preserved orange



STEP2 2-3 Remove the rump undercut muscle. Clearly identify the undercut muscle laying on top the underside of the rump. Locate the seam then gently pull the meat and follow all the way through to remove the muscle. This can be used for trim.



STEP 1 The whole rump.


Meat and greet Chef Tarek Ibrahim has been working for MLA (Meat & Livestock Australia) since 2006 when he was appointed as Senior Consultant. Active in regional media, he has played a key role in increasing Australian meat brand awareness, building bridges with the culinary industry and offering cooking and meat cutting training sessions to young chefs in the region. Here he offers a rump masterclass, focusing on how to separate the rump’s main three muscles.

STEPS 4-7 To separate the rump cap (aka Picanha), keep the rump fat side down. You can see the cap sitting at the bottom of the rump, underneath the centre cut and eye of rump. Gently pull back on the centre muscles and use the weight of the meat to follow the seam all the way through, gently pulling as your knife cuts through the seam.

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STEP 11 When slicing steaks from your rump cap make sure you‘re cutting against the grain - that is, from the tip of the triangle down.

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STEPS 12-17 To separate the centre cut from the eye of rump, locate the seam through the middle of the two muscles. Once you identify it, ip the muscle over to place the shiny side down. Relocate your seam and gently cut through the meat using the seam of sinew as a guide. Trim.


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Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA) is a producerowned company whose mission is to deliver world-class services and solutions in partnership with industry and government. Promoting the quality and safety as well as the nutritional value of Australian red meat both domestically and internationally, on behalf of the meat and livestock industry, MLA manages and operates a portfolio of marketing activities to maintain and increase demand for Australian meat and livestock. MLA in the Middle East and North African region works closely with retailers, food service operators, importers and manufacturers as well as Australian exporters to maintain and increase the demand for halal red meat and livestock.

19 Finally, remove the sinew from the centre cut and trim off any excess fat.

8 STEPS 8-10 Slice off the section of the cap that is all fat. Remove the silver trim from underneath and any other excess fat. By holding the knife at a slight angle upwards, you are less likely to pierce any meat while removing trim. Follow the line of the meat to remove the excess top fat.



STEP 18 The eye of rump.


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Australian beef tartare and carpaccio Serves 6 Ingredients: 1kg beef tenderloin 240g of beef (eye rump side), finely diced 12g cornichons, finely chopped 12g baby capers, finely chopped 12g shallots, finely chopped 1 tbsp of parsley, chopped 24g Dijon mustard 30g tomato ketchup 6 quail egg yolks 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce 1 tbsp Tabasco salt and pepper to taste 20g frizze salad (yellow only) 5 cubes of potato, 1.5x1.5cm, confit and crispy pan fried 1 quail egg yolk baby coriander garlic, ginger and shallot chips pink sea salt

Gribiche vinaigrette: 6g egg white, finely chopped 6g egg yolk, finely chopped 2g chives, finely chopped 3g cornichons, finely chopped 3g baby capers, finely chopped 25ml olive oil 10ml sherry vinegar salt and pepper to taste Method: 1 Trim the Australian beef tenderloin and roll it tightly in wrap. Place in the freezer overnight. Remove from the freezer and slice the fillet as thinly as possible. The beef will be firm but should slice finely. 2 Remove the wrap from each disc to serve. Arrange the slices in a circle around the edge of a plate and drizzle with the Gribiche vinaigrette. 3 Place the tartare in the centre and top with a quail egg yolk sitting in the middle. Dress the plate with the potato cubes and chips, frizze lettuce and baby coriander.

Australian beef rump cap (Picanha) with relish

Ingredients: 1kg Australian rump cap roast 5-6 garlic cloves 2/3 cup of coarse salt 1/4 cup of olive oil Method: 1 Trim excess fat from the meat. Mix salt and garlic together to make a paste, rub all over the meat. Add a little olive oil if the paste won’t stick. Marinate the cap for several hours, turning it over once an hour or so. Liquid should come out of the meat. 2 Scrape most of the mixture off the roast, especially the large chunks of salt. Rub the meat with a little olive oil and a little more garlic. 3 Grill over very high heat. Turn once and cook to rare. Take off heat and rest before carving. 4 Carve 5mm pieces against the grain. Relish

Meat & Livestock Australia, Dubai Airport Freezone, Building East 1, Office E313, P O Box 293715, Dubai, United Arab Emirates P: +971 4 433 1355, M: +971 551000670, F: +971 4 454 9543 E: jferguson@mla.com.au www.mla.com.au www.lambandbeef.com

Ingredients: 5 large tomatoes, deseeded 1 large white onion 2 green capsicum 3 cloves garlic 1/4 cup olive oil 3/4 cup red wine vinegar 1/4 cup cold water salt and pepper to taste Method: 1 Dice tomatoes, green capsicum and onion into cubes. Mix equal measures of the three. 2 Add 1/4 of a cup of red wine vinegar and stir. Add cold water, olive oil, salt and black pepper to taste. Marinate in the refrigerator for at least one hour. 3 Serve sliced Picanha over baked potatoes with relish drizzled over the top.

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Pimp my plate


any culinary traditions have a peasant dish based on slow-cooked beans in a covered vessel, such as the Brazilian feijoada or the Eastern European cholent. Often, they’re combined with pork and poultry, especially goose leg. The classic example, of course is cassoulet - a rich, slow-cooked casserole from the south of France, containing meat (typically pork sausages, goose, duck and sometimes mutton), pork skin and white haricot beans.It is named after the cassole, a traditional cooking vessel which is a deep, round, earthenware pot with slanting sides. Although rich in tradition, there is no standard recipe, but the best-known example comes from Castelnaudary, where the dish originated. Toulouse and Carcassonne both make strong claims to be the best version too. All are made with white beans (haricots blancs or lingots), together with duck or goose confit, meat and sausages. So, in Toulouse, the meats are pork and mutton; in Carcassonne, there’s twice as much mutton and sometimes partridge instead of duck; and in Castelnaudary, there’s no mutton but duck confit instead. Moving away from the dish’s peasant origins, many restaurants mix pre-cooked roasted meats with beans that have been simmered separately with aromatic vegetables. Often the cassoulet dish is deglazed after use to provide a base for the next one, thus deepening the taste profile. All of which is a long way from the healthy, vegetarian food that is identified by Chef Gabi Kurz, Resort Wellbeing Chef at Madinat Jumeirah, who has been working for over a year to introduce so-called ‘wellbeing cuisine’ across all the restaurants in the complex. For her, that means dishes that are both wholesome and nutritionally well-balanced, using only organic and plant-based ingredients. She is involved in menu development for restaurants and corporate events in the resort and is responsible for the entire menu at Talise Spa. Her cooking and educational classes, nutritional advisory, as well as her diabetic and obesity consultations, have made her a popular figure with Dubai residents. When I first spoke to her about this feature, I asked if she had any particular dish in mind. “No,” she replied. “Give me a challenge - I want to show other chefs how even the most meat and fat-based dish can be transformed into something healthy and delicious.” Having tasted the end result, she certainly achieved that transformation.

Bean there, done that The idea for Pimp My Plate is simple: challenge a chef to reinvent a classic dish. They can omit ingredients and add new ones, but there should be some relationship between the two dishes. What then for the start of a new year could be more fun than challenging vegetarian Chef Gabi Kurz, Resort Wellbeing Chef at Madinat Jumeirah, to tackle the meatfest that is the French country classic Cassoulet and make it healthy? STEP BY STEP COOKING GUIDE

Step 1: Unwrap the set up sausage

Step 2: Slice to suit presentation

Step 3: Warm the bean stew

Step 4: Add the diced tomato

Coming from Bavaria, the concept of a very sausage-filled dish is hardly strange to you. No, not at all, but I think for me what is more intersting is the slow cooking process. That really transforms and deepens flavours. The challenge is how to do that with less fat and, with a vegetarian version, how you still retain something chunky with texture. Had you known of the dish before? Yes, of course, when I was at school - a long time back! - we all had to pick a theme for a French project and I picked French food, because at that


Pimp my plate

Step 5: A final touch of oil to bring richness

Step 6: in with the root vegetables

Step 7: Te sausage is warmed through


Step 8: Final seasoning


Pimp my plate time nouvelle cuisine was popular. I was drawn to the reality of French regional cuisine, with different regions having their specific specialities. Have you always been vegetarian? No. My family was really in two parts. My father ran a small brewery and it served food at well bratwurst and all those very traditional Bavarian dishes. My mother on the other hand made healthy food in a private kitchen. So it was a mix of the traditional and the healthy and gradually I moved over to my mother’s style! When you did eat meat, did you ever have the chance to try cassoulet? I’ve never eaten it, but as a chef I can imagine how it tastes. Every culture I think has something similar that uses the long cooking process, in order to stretch out a small amount of food you’d just add more beans or whatever. What is fascinating and what fascinated me during that school project was discovering how the French make such a big scene and a science out of their traditional recipes and produce. There’s so much talk of ‘quality’!

Surely that’s just the same as the German brewing laws, which go back centuries? But there’s far fewer ingredients in beer! You’re right, though - there’s an equal emphasis on purity.

So the recipe only uses a small amount of olive oil on the beans after the dish is cooked and another small amount just to brown the sausages before they’re added.

Back to cassoulet. Your initial thoughts? Well, I knew it was very traditional but when I did some recipe research on the Web, I discovered that it’s also now being done in modern ways. With lobster, for example. So at first I thought I could just do tweaks - I love turning simple food into elegant food, but that really wasn’t going to work with this dish. However, I really wanted to keep the element of long, slow heat - my mother dreams of slow cooking over an open fire. You can’t beat it!

But no duck or goose substitute? Even when I used to eat meat, I never liked duck! I can imagine people back from working hard in the cold and eating large amounts of cassoulet - it’s a winter dish - but here in Dubai, both for health and because of the weather, something lighter and simpler makes more sense. We all like simple food, don’t we?

You’ve kept the base elements of the dish with the beans and the sausage. How did the latter idea come together? To be honest, it’s something I’ve done before. In fact, it was one of my first solo recipes! The sausage was important to give the diner something to bite on and to help impart the smoky flavour into the dish. Important too was to try to avoid an oil or fat route as my style is very much against saturated fat.

Finally, do you think this will appear on any of the Madinat’s menus? I hope so, once I’ve got my boss to try it. I think it would work very well here (MJ’s Steakhouse in Al Qasr) as a good options for vegetarians dining with steak eaters. I’d like to see it on buffets, perhaps as single serve pots. And I think it could be an interesting room service option. It could also develop other ways - add paprika, say, for a more Spanish dish, use kidney beans, make it spicier, lots of things. It’s been a fun challenge!

add the pieces of pork and lamb together with their cooking juices. Add the garlic sausage, the pieces of confit and the Toulouse sausage. Simmer gently for one hour. Drain all the meat and set it aside on a platter. Slice the garlic sausages into thick slices and the Toulouse sausage into fine slices. Cut the lamb and pork into small, regular size pieces. Cut the pieces of confit in half. Set the pork aside on a plate. Arrange the pork rind in a large glazed earthenware cooking dish (especially designed for cassoulet) or a large baking dish, then fill with alternating layers of beans and meat, seasoning each layer lightly with pepper. The final

layer should be beans. Slice the pork belly and arrange on top. Moisten with a bit of the cooking juices. Sprinkle 300g of breadcrumbs on top and bake the cassoulet for one hour at 170C. When a good crust forms on top of the cassoulet, push it down with a spoon into the bean mixture. Sprinkle the remaining breadcrumbs and return the cassoulet to the oven for an additional hour. Repeat this step several times if you wish. It is a better dish for being reheated, so you can easily make it the day before. To reheat, add more bouillon and breadcrumbs and reheat in the oven for 40 minutes. It is ready when the crust is again brown.

Cassoulet Serves 4 Ingredients: 1kg white beans 300g fresh pork belly 200g pork rind 1 carrot 1 bouquet garni 1 onion 1 whole clove 3 cloves garlic, crushed 100g goose fat 450g pork shoulder, plus 170g 450g lamb shoulder, boned and cut into pieces 400g garlic sausage 400g Toulouse sausage 6 goose confit 3 onions, chopped 5 tomatoes, seeded and diced 100g dried breadcrumbs 480 ml bouillon, from a pot-au-feu (you may also use bouillon cubes) salt black pepper Method: 1 Soak the beans and bouquet garni in cold water for two hours, then cook with the crushed garlic cloves, the onion stuck with cloves, the carrot, the pork belly and the rind over low heat. 2 About 40 minutes before the beans are cooked, melt the goose fat in another pot. Sauté the pork shoulder and the lamb pieces. Season and let the meat brown. Add the onion, the garlic cloves and the tomatoes. Cover with the bouillon, add the bouquet garni and simmer for 30 minutes. 3 Remove the vegetables used to season the beans with 100 ml of the cooking water, then






Cassoulet light Serves 2 Ingredients: 25g white jumbo beans, soaked overnight 750 ml vegetable stock 2 garlic cloves 1 bay leaf 3 sprigs thyme 8 black peppercorns 2 tomatoes - one whole‚one peeled and diced 1 leek (medium) 80g celeriac, diced 80g carrot, diced 50g smoked tofu 1 egg white 50g broccoli, steamed

15g sugar snap peas, steamed 50g sweet potato (poach with 30 ml orange juice) 15 ml olive oil 6 sage leaves salt and pepper to taste Method: 1 Rinse the soaked beans and simmer on low heat with the vegetable stock, mashed garlic, peppercorn, bay leaf and cloves for around two hours, adding liquid (water or more vegetable stock) when needed. After one hour, add the diced root vegetables. 2 Blend the tomato with the remaining vegetable stock and strain it. Add to the beans, season and simmer for about another two hours, adding liquid if required.





Remove some of the outer leaves of the leek and keep them aside. Dice the remaining leek and the smoked tofu then braise both in some olive oil. Blend half with the egg white, mix the remaining leek and tofu, season with salt and pepper. Roll into the leek leaves, wrap tight in cling ďŹ lm and in aluminium foil. Poach in simmering water for ten minutes and allow them to chill. Add the steamed and poached vegetables and the raw diced tomato to the bean stew, check seasoning and add a drizzle of olive oil. Fill it in a large serving bowl and keep warm. Unwrap he chilled leek sausage and cut it in 3 cm pieces. Pan fry them with the sage leaves in the remaining olive oil. Arrange the leek sausage and the sage leaves on top of the cassoulet and serve family style.


On the passe

Updating a classic When an established restaurant has a core of committed regulars, making changes to the menu is never going to be easy. However, Benoit Cart, Executive Sous Chef at Emirates Golf Club, is determined to make the menu at Le Classique more modern, without scaring away longtime diners.


favourite for years both for golfers and longterm Dubai residents, Le Classique at Emirates Golf Club is one of those ‘never out of fashion but not really on most people’s radar’ outlets. Which is a shame as both the setting and menu deserve more attention. Change is underway, however, as new Executive Sous Chef Benoit Cart gradually overhauls the menu. Committed to exceptional produce and striking flavour combinations, he’s walking a balancing act between ensuring that longterm menu favourites remain on the menu and new dishes and style find room. Growing up just outside Paris, his love of travel has taken him round the world, before settling in Dubai with a new family. We asked him about that long journey.

It was not something I had ever considered. As part of my national service, I joined the Franch Navy and my father gave me some very good advice. ‘The food will be terrible,’ he said, ‘so get close to the chef and eat well’. This I did and gradually started to like the system of a kitchen and learned to prepare dishes. I travelled a great deal in the navy, which was my passion. One of my main missions was to bring back a 25-year old boat from French Polynesia to France and we visited Tahiti, Australia, Thailand, India, Sri Lanka, Oman, Djibouti, Egypt and Greece. For a 20-yeat old, that was amazing and it really opened up my eyes to food and flavours. So, after my service, I went to Limoges where my sister lived and did a two year catering course whilst I was apprenticed in a good local restaurant.

I’m sure like every Frenchman, you have golden memories of your mother’s food? Yes, of course, but to be honest I was never really interested in food, I was never inspired by it. It was just something we took for granted, part of life.

And that was the start? Yes, after college, I got a job as Chef de Partie in Michelin star restaurant in Trèmolat in the South West, but I had the urge to travel and then spent a couple of years working as Chef de Partie and Sous Chef across France in seasonal restaurants, traditional brasseries and traditional

What made you become a chef?

French restaurants mastering classical techniques. However, you could say that all my basic influences come from the South West and I love the produce - the truffles, the foie gras and so on. The menu in Trèmolat was very old school but a new chef made changes and I learned many important things speed of service, quest for perfection and how to organise a kitchen. Were you tired of travel by now? No, not at all! In fact, I moved to London where my brother lived, more to learn English than to cook to be honest, but I spent a year in a fine dining bistro - it was very intense with 300 covers and I worked like a donkey! Then, when my English was better, I got the opportunity to be the Sous Chef in the fine dining room at the Hurlingham Club in Fulham, under Christopher Driver who’s Chef de Cuisine at Alfie’s here in Dubai. Was he the reason you moved to Dubai? I came here in 2007, after a couple of years at the Hurlingham. England was fun but I wasn’t a big fan of the weather and for years all I’d heard was ‘Dubai blah blah blah’ so I thought I’d give it a try.

Seared medallion of tuna


On the passe In fact, I was headhunted for the position of Chef de Cuisine at Andiamo in the Grand Hyatt Dubai and was then promoted to Chef de Cuisine at the Manhattan Grill. However, I really love classic French cuisine so in 2009 I joined the newly opened Atlantis as Chef de Cuisine with responsibility for the Michel Rostang brasserie. And so to Le Classique. Tell us a bit about your personal style and what you’re trying to achieve. As I’ve said, I really like the food of South West France but I do feel we need to make it a bit more healthy. So, for example, I still serve foie gras but in a much smaller quantity as an amuse bouche. A signature dish of mine, I suppose, is foie gras with a vanilla and rhubard compote. The point of Le Classique is to bring real taste, real French food using high quality ingredients like chickens from Bresse. Do you have problems sourcing produce? No, not at all. I use a very good French supplier who provides me with seasonal produce - just now, for example,. there’s an amazing selection of wild mushrooms. Is it difficult to approach a new menu for a restaurant that’s been open for 25 years? Certainly, people expect old classics and a traditional approach such as carving at tableside or live stations or flambeed dishes, but I think you can introduce change as a slow evolution. What’s key is that we try to educate our customers about the

“THE POINT OF LE CLASSIQUE IS TO BRING REAL TASTE, REAL FRENCH FOOD USING HIGH QUALITY INGREDIENTS LIKE CHICKENS FROM BRESSE.” new dishes and the changes. I’m also introducing new techniques using equipment like the Pacojet for blending and mixing. It means we can work much more a la minute. Are we molecular? No, but you could say we’re playing a bit with it, just for the touch. But no smoke!

other elements into the menu here - like Japanese ouzu or an Arabic touch with the foie gras or Indian cumin in a carrot puree. One new concept I’m proud of here is our seven course degustation menu, where we ask diners about their food preferences and then construct a meal for them.

What kind of foods do you enjoy? What chefs inspire you? I think that as chefs we need to keep learning, so I’m always out trying new places, new dishes. For me, the best chef is Pierre Gagnaire.

What about the things you eat? Well, I had a big shock recently. Loving the food of the South West, everyday I’ve been eating snails and foie gras but was sent by the company like all the other employees to a dietician for a regular check-up and discovered I have really high cholesterol! So now healthy food is essential for me and it’s spilling over into the restaurant where we’re trying to have more healthy options. Of course, people come to Le Classique because they love rich food and that’s always been a staple part of our menu, but now we’ll offer more options that are healthier but still have our touch. I don’t think it is my job to tell customers what to eat, but I can make good alternatives available to them. Le Classique is in transition. It’s not yet 100% what I want to do, but it’s a fun journey!

French chefs are not well known for introducing elements of foreign cuisine into the classic style, but isn’t there a need for that in a city like Dubai with its mix of cultures? Yes, but the difference I think is that most Europeans have a shared knowledge of food, but many people from other parts tend not to know about too many other food cultures. In French cuisine, it’s really only elements from our North African colonies that we’ve adopted, like couscous, but I’m consciously trying to introduce

French onion soup

Foie gras de canard en terrine



Face to face

NO WATER SHORTAGE As the brand ambassador for Badoit, Chef Thierry Marx is passionate about the naturally carbonated spring water. You’d expect that. However, his adoption of the ingredient makes more sense against the wider search for simplicity and purity that has marked his career.


peaking to Chef Thierry Marx recently in Paris, two thoughts simultaneously ran through my brain. Firstly, how can a man who is clearly Bruce Willis’ doppleganger produce food of such sublime quality and, more importantly, how will I survive an interview on molecular cuisine in French! Somehow I survived the 90 minute endurance test, though I suspect if lunch service hadn’t called him, we’d have been talking for much longer. He is a fascinating character - a man of passion but with crystal clarity, a child of the streets who’s equally at home in world of Michelin stars, a workaholic who spends holidays in Japan learning traditional cuisine and kendo, a modernist and a fierce loyalist to the great pillars of French cuisine, Escoffier and La Carême. in short, he’s a one-off. In translating our conversation, I have tried to capture the essence of his words, as well as quoting parts of his fascinating reminiscence ‘Comment je suis devenu chef étoilé’, where that covers the same ground. Thierry Marx was born and raised in Paris in Ménilmontant, his Jewish grandparents having fled Poland during the war. His initial career choice was to be a baker but instead qualified as a pastry chef, chocolatier and ice cream maker. At 18, he joined the French military as a paratrooper in the marines and saw service in Lebanon during the civil war. Returning to Paris, he took a variety of jobs - security guard, cash transporter and warehouseman, for example - before returning to cooking as an assistant at Ledoyen, Taillevent and Robuchon. He later became chef at the Regency Hotel in Sydney and travelled to Singapore, Hong Kong and Tokyo. In 1988, he received his first Michelin star for the restaurant Roc en Val at Tours and from 1990 to 1995 for the Cheval Blanc at Nîmes, where he

received one star in 1991. The Chef at the Relais et Château Cordeillan-Bages at Pauillac since 1996, he received his first star in 1996 and a second one in 1999. He was elected Gault Millau Chef of the Year in 2000. Since April 2010, he has been Executive Chef and Director of Food & Beverage at the Mandarin Oriental in Paris, in which he opened in the restaurants Sur Mesure by Thierry Marx, Le Camélia and a pastry counter. Last year, Sur Mesure was awarded two stars. It was in the middle of the Médoc vineyards in Pauillac that Marx is quietly revolutionised the world of French gastronomy, by combining ‘planetary cuisine’ with the heritage of his peers. As a chef, he is very open-minded towards different countries and cultures, dating back to his childhood experiences in Jewish Tunisian canteens and small Thai restaurants in Belleville. “I grew up in this working-class district of north east Paris and each day coming home from school I loved to linger around, breathing in all these exhalations of Oriental cooking,” he recalls. Now, in his private laboratory, he works on cryonics, freeze-drying and emulsion techniques. However, he is careful to balance technology with creativity. “We have two people working full-time on the research and once a month we get together with a graphic artist and a food chemist to finalise our new creations. For me and my team, cooking is above all a complete universe which is open to other disciplines,” he explains. Yet, despite the theatricality of the molecular approach, his dishes are based on simplicity: quality produce with added tastes and textures. Happiest with fish and soya beans. “I love soya beans because, paradoxically, their neutral taste allows for real innovations. For example, for the risotto it allows me to start from zero regarding

the taste and permits the essential flavours of these terroir products, the oyster and the truffle, to be accentuated,” he explains. However, past tradition is also important to Marx. “Our elders showed us the way so there is no arguing between the older people and the younger ones. Today everyone agrees that cooking is a universal business and no longer the monopoly of certain countries. Besides, cooking is societal and therefore constantly ‘forced’ to change and shakeup the traditional structures of the food industry.” he insists. He is part of the collective Génération C, whose aim is to allow the public to come and watch fine dining chefs to show that good food is not necessarily elitists. The opposite side of that coin is his commitment to street food, which he defends with a passion, claiming that when it is honest it breaks down social barriers and brings communities together. From the kebabs of his youth to the deconstructed lemon tart of today may seem a long journey, but for Chef Marx it’s all a holistic world of food. In last month’s magazine, we ran coverage of your Badoit sponsored event on the Paris RER - a real coup! Yes, it was amazing. It was an immense challenge that could almost be entered into the Guinness Book of World Records! In effect, it was first class service of a fine dining meal for 400 covers in less than 30 minutes - in a moving environment! But, for me, it was important because it was a way of shaking up the world of gastronomy - everybody talks about gastronomy but always in the context of inside walls, so for once I wanted to open it up to the world. Just imagine the possibility of reaching people who’d never dream of eating in my restaurant. So it was an attempt to democratise the world of


Face to face



Face to face fine dining? Yes, of course. On the suburban train, you have everybody - rich, poor, working and so on. To open gastronomy up to so many people was exciting and an education. Luckily Badoit saw the value in this feast of making people aware of how rich our French food heritage is. It’s all valuable when care and attention goes into it, whether we’re talking a bistro at the corner of the street or a 3-star fine dining palace. It’s our heritage - the heritage of all of us in France. Why are you so passionate about water - Badoit in particular - when, for most chefs, it’s not something they think about? Water is key to gastronomy. It’s not a matter without interest, not an accident in the mouth. I see the value in having a water chariot in the restaurant so diners have a choice depending on the plate they are eating. It’s partly a matter of taste but also we need to be aware that there’s an increasingly number of people who don’t drink alcohol these days. Water is a very rare product - it can be as good as wine. What I’m working on now is aromatising water on the spot with a selection of ingredients in water at the right temperature to create a complex mix and a new experience the right water with the right dish. You can, for example, aromatise Badoit with chervil, basil or ginger among others and its natural richness in bicarbonate helps dissolves these elements and naturally enrich the water. Can you give an example of how you’d do this for a particular dish? Imagine a simple dish of St Pierre poached in Badoit aromatised with basil. Or think of my signature Badoit cocktail, Eau furieuse, which is water and ginger basically. Here the concept is to prepare it in front of the customer and so avoid offering the customer the mere choice of still or sparkling water. We want to make water a product on its own, not just an afterthought. When did you first realise that Badoit would complement your cuisine so well? The first time I used it and I’ve stayed with it. About five years ago, I looked again at all the mineral waters and it was still Badoit that pleased and excited me the most. It has a natural balance.

Other sparkling waters aren’t as natural in the same way. Do you use it in all your dishes? No, primarily for green vegetables where the fine bubbles help the cooking as well as maintaining colour and texture, with some cuts of meat and in marinades. But don’t be mistaken - this is not something new. Escoffier, for example, used Vichy water because he understood that the natural bicarbonates in it would retain the natural colour of carrots. The richness of bicarbonates in some waters, especially Badoit, help to melt cellulose wihout chefs having to use lemon juice or something else. Some people ask me if, as an ingredient, it’s too expensive to use? Not at all, it’s just the same as using wine in cooking. You choose where to use it and maybe we utilise just two bottles a service. Does its very special taste limit your creativity in developing new dishes? Not at all, because the taste of Badoit is very balanced and so it doesn’t disturb the digestion but, instead, improves it. It has a natural affinity with some dishes - for example, fish and Badoit aromatised with basil or lemon. I don’t think that there are any specific flavour combinations using it that just don’t work. I think we’re already seeing other chefs start to use mineral waters more and more in their cooking, as they come to understand what is possible. Of course, I’ve been talking about it for the last ten years so maybe they’re just catching up! What did food mean to you as a child? From my grandmother, I got the approach of cooking with intelligence, using all elements of produce and making use of everything, She used to do the grocery once a week and bought food that would last for a whole week. The family used to live in Belleville, a popular neighbourhood where lots of communities mixed together and shared their culture through food. I never thought I could be a chef, but I understood that food is something philosophic, a way to meet and touch others, a way to feed the intellect. You know, sharing food is a way to get to know each other and thus integrate. When you live out in the concrete suburbs, it’s a world of pure building with no space for sharing


and exchanging. That’s when we start to fear each other, because we no longer understand and share. I remember in our neighbourhood, one man used to grill merguez sausages on the street and the smell would make people come to sample it and so begin to understand another culture. Cuisine is not only for the body but for the soul and the mind. We feed the soul more than the body - this is something I grew to understand in Japan. When someone goes into a restaurant he wants to nourish himself but also, on another level, he wants to travel, to escape. It was amazing on that RER train to see how food changed people - they began to exchange, discuss and interact with each other after some were first afraid of what was happening. People really enjoyed it and even put aside their sandwiches to open up to the experience. Food creates a story that has history and if you tell a story, then it has within it a promise of pleasure. Did you understand all this when you began your career as a chef? No. I started cooking popular food but I came to realise that a great chef rises above that. Chefs need to understand that great cuisine is at the same level as great jazz or great literature. I remember an experience I had at the Bocuse Institute where we worked with carrot peelings. How could you make a dish from that? I cooked some in Badoit at 24C, filtered it and gave it to the students to drink. They were amazed! Taste is like meditation - you have to give in to it before you go out to the street to battle again. Speaking of meditation, you’re very close to Japanese food and culture, aren’t you? Yes, I spent five years in the country and now go back every year for two or three months to visit my restaurant. What I learned in Japan is this: a holistic approach to food and a unbroken relationship between ingredients and the environment. I hope I’m not idealising Japanese society too much, but both French and Japanese cuisines are about sublimation of the product. Of course, they do not follow the same path. The Japanese are very holistic with a multi-sense approach to tackling space, so in the way that architecture is of the place so is food touched by both utensil and as an olfactory experience. Japan really brought me this new perspective, always thinking before starting to cook and adding too many things. Young chefs are all about adding elements to show off. However, it is easy to add and show all they can do but more difficult to take elements out. It is necessary to keep original pattern and true spirit of the ingredient, not to lose it. Japanese culture is very much built on boiling tea, for example, at a precise temperature whereas in France we overboil everything because we’re afraid of germs! Instead, we should respect nature. What is your relationship with food? I believe in quality produce and in not spoiling that produce by, for example, using tap water that has been chlorinated. Food is about taking pleasure, feeling good and staying healthy. If I eat better,

Face to face

Fingertip lamb with baby vegetables à la niçois Serves 2 Ingredients: 2 lamb cutlets 10g green peppers, diced 10g red peppers, diced 10g candied onions, diced 10g courgettes, diced 10g aubergines, diced 10g pine nuts 10g black olives Maldon salt Parmesan shaving Badoit water to cook vegetables Method: 1 Sear the lamb cutlet in a pan to medium rare. 2 In a separate pan, stir fry over medium heat the green peppers, red peppers, candied onion, courgette, aubergine and then add Badoit water to the mixture. 3 Let the vegetables simmer and put the seared lamb cutlet on top. Add the pine nuts and black olives on the side. Salt to taste. 4 Take the cutlet off the pan and dab on kitchen towel to slightly dry. Place on plate. Spoon the vegetable mixture on top of cutlet, then sprinkle with some more salt to taste. Add the shaved Parmesan to decorate and add texture, to taste.

then I’ll live longer - it’s that simple. Of course, I may want a croissant but I will have one very good one instead of five ordinary ones. Eat less but eat better and remain true to the taste of the produce or the original product. It is taste that gives satiety not quantity. Ultimately, we need to be careful to what we eat and drink and people need to eat and drink products of quality. I find it interesting to hear you champion quality food, when you also wrote ‘Street Marx’ about food from the streets. Isn’t that usually junk food? No, not always. Japanese street food, for example, is very high quality but at a low price. Street food has a nobility as a vehicle of integration into societies. It is about sharing one’s food and culture and I believe there’s no better integration model than street food, because all immigrants turn to street food as their first level of integration - New York City is a perfect example of this and now we’re seeing the setting of standards for traceability, quality, food safety and so on. Look also at Paris - here, young chefs find it really hard to set up their first restaurants because of the cost. They used to enter their careers by buying a bistro, now they’re opening food trucks. In this way, street food is revitalising gastronomy. Of course, this is a long way from the big business approach of selling

mass-produced hamburgers or sandwiches - I’m talking about seeing street food in its proper place. Remember: food is a journey. It’s interesting that you’re talking of food as a global phenomenon when the French are known to be quite chauvinistic when it comes to their cuisine... Maybe it’s a matter of certain journalists that have positioned French gastronomy this way. In fact, French cuisine has actually built itself on several foreign influences and cultures. One example is the Medicis who brought Italian food to France, or Bonaparte’s conquests which brought ingredients from around the world that are now part of French gastronomy. Take as an example that French classic, Magret de canard. This is, of course, a French dish but it uses conservation techniques from the Arabs who themselves took them from the Chinese. Chinese are very much into health in food so they had all of the different technique whether poaching, confis, bouillons, etc. France played the role of assembling all these influences and, with Paris at the centre of Europe, France intellectualised cuisines and emphasised the quality of ingredients. I take your point but if you compare Britain and

France, you can see how British cuisine was completely changed by our time in India. What did France gain from its Indian colonies? Spices to be sure, but I think the Indian taste is not the French one. Indian food is not primarily a meat cuisine and the French are lactic-loving hunters. At home or on holiday, what do you eat? To be honest, I rarely eat at home as I do not spend too much time there and when I am there I am very much about detox, so perhaps some bouillon or broth. At work I have access to so much, that food at home is always more simple and I just don’t eat too much. Sometimes, however, I do need some regressive food. From my time in Lebanon, I grew to love falafels with pita bread and a simple white sauce - whenever I eat one, I reach memories of that time. On holiday? I refresh myself by escaping to remote places where there is silence and no technology, no rush. I do feel a need to regenerate myself as I am very much involved in my work and I push myself to the limits. I am a man of travels and those travels often involve food. So I recall spending time in a monastery giving advice to monks on their jam making or sitting with bedouins watch them make bread. I still marvel at how just the combination of water, yeast and salt can create something so magical.


Face to face

The creative cuisine Dutch chef Margot Janse is the incredibly talented Executive Chef at the award winning Relais and Châteaux Le Quartier Français Hotel in Franschhoek, South Africa. From photography to cuisine, she brings a very creative eye to her work.


orn and educated in The Netherlands, Margot Janse originally studied drama and photography, laying the foundation for her early work with a photographic school in Johannesburg, South Africa. However, the kitchen beckoned and, aged 23, she approached Ciro Molinaro, a highly respected Johannesburg restaurateur, who agreed to teach her in his own kitchen. She stayed for two years, learning every aspect of managing a kitchen - more importantly, also gaining an ability to explore beyond more traditional food boundaries. In 1995, she joined the culinary team at Le Quartier Français, a hotel restaurant already considered one of South Africa’s best. Challenged shortly after arrival to take over as Executive Chef, she has consistently built both the restaurant’s reputation and her own. She travels extensively to be continually inspired by new ideas and stay abreast of emerging trends. Her stimulating African inspired surprise menu changes regularly based on seasonal fresh produce which she sources from Le Quartier’s own indigenous garden and small local producers. The result is a kitchen buzzing with on-going innovative and creative energy. She believes that food is constantly evolving and that unforgettable dishes always have an element of surprise and nostalgia about them. Every dish of hers is both truly refined and unexpectedly exciting: a contradiction that results in her menu’s outstanding balance and a cuisine that is culinary theatre. “I don’t like bland food,” she says. “I don’t like safe food.” We caught up with her recently in Amsterdam where she was part of the Stars, Food & Art gala charity dinner, working aside chefs from Europe and enjoying a return to her native land. Firstly, how is it interacting with other chefs in a high pressure environment like this? It’s very different from my kitchen but we all speak the same language. You know, the more events I do, the more I realise that we all do the same thing. We’re each learning a lot about skills and ingredient tips - I think all chefs are inquisitive. Learning from each other shows the respect we

Pure food poetry have for each other as chefs. I’m very much into self-discipline and I want everybody to have a positive experience in the kitchen. Tell me how you got into food? I grew up on the outskirts of Amsterdam and I was never excited by family dinners. The tradition was that, at 6pm, the family sat down, ate, smoked and talked. It was never about the food - a very Puritan approach and I wanted excitement. I remember we had Indonesian neighbours and their food was so exciting, but also so simple and healthy. We never had money to eat out but, when my parents divorced, my father would treat me and take me out to restaurants. I was five years old and we went on a skiing holiday and the hotel had a big buffet breakfast and I couldn’t believe it - there was so much to choose from! Then, in the evening, a choice of courses so my father would say, “Let’s

have the whole menu!” He made food exciting for me and I am heavily influenced by him. So food inspired you as you grew up? No, not really. I wanted to be an actress and enrolled in drama school, but in the end I wasn’t good enough and went to work as a waitress. I realised again that there is a magic in food. Then, aged 19, I met a South African and moved with him there a year later. It was at the point when everything channged - Mandela was released two months after we arrived. I married - my husband was a journalist - and we got close to members of the ANC and longterm anti-apartheid activists. I started working with him as a photographer and, when we moved to Johannesburg, I began to teach it to disadvantaged kids. I loved the creativity, but food was still a passion. I used to think that buying a recipe book was the best thing! And, of course, I



Face to face was discovering all sorts of foods - for example, a Portuguese shop with amazing ingredients. You clearly were going to become a chef? I think so. There was a feeling back then that foreign food was always better, but the shift in the country meant that people started to look at African ingredients more seriously. Food became more social. Refinement and pride in our cusine started to grow, especially given the amazing ingredients available. And, of course, after having been cut off for so long, there were now new influences coming in. It was a very exciting time. How did you finally make the move? One of our favourite neighbourhood restaurants with a female chef was just round the corner and one day I got up the courage and went there and said I wanted to learn for free. Sadly, it had just been sold so the answer was ‘no’, but now I’d taken that step. I tried other places and

then Ciro, who took trainees for three years, just said “Come!” He was great - I was allowed to do anything, try anything. I was like a puppy, so over-excited. It wasn’t fine dining but I learned traditional French techniques. After lunch service, I didn’t go home but stayed to try new things then, one day, one of dishes went on the specials menu! I learned three things with Ciro: passion, creativity and skill. After two years, though, I needed to move on and I joined a fine dining hotel in Cape Town, initially in charge of all the anti pasti. Every day I’d do something different, playing with textures and flavours - I loved it! Then, after cooking for just two years, I was promoted to Sous Chef - I guess they saw me as a leader. And so to Le Quartier Français... Yes, as Sous Chef. It had a very good name, maybe even the best in the country. I’d seen the menu, I was very excited even though it was in a tiny village outside Cape Town. I was thrust into chaos,

out of my depth and very lonely. The staff didn’t like me so I had to earn their respect. I missed life and then the Head Chef got divorced and left. The owner asked me to take over and I felt everyone waiting for me to fail. I had to produce a full menu and I’d never done that and I didn’t feel anything I was coming up with was good enough. Deadline time and I had to commit - I was very scared but people liked it! Now I don’t do a whole new menu - just too much stress. Instead it evolves. Any problems being out in the countryside? Supplies can be difficult - I get upset by bad produce! I’m happy to be a local chef - I don’t want to be on a pedestal and never set out to achieve that. We’re a restaurant in a community and I don’t want diners to feel intimidated by the place or the food. I’m able to bring integrity to the food we cook and that’s important to me and I’m looking forward to continuing to celebrate our country’s heritage with the amazing produce that’s available.

Squid ink cigars Makes 25 Caramel: 50g isomalt 50g glucose Method: 1 Place isomalt and glucose in a small pot and place over medium heat. Bring the caramel up to 154C and pour out onto a silicone mat. When cold and hard, break it up and blend until a fine powder. Squid ink and onion puree: 150g onions, quartered 50 ml vegetable stock salt 50g caramel 10 ml squid ink Method: 1 Place the onions with the vegetable stock in a pot and reduce until all the liquid has evaporated and the onions are soft and translucent. Season with salt and add the caramel powder and the squid ink. Stir over over a low heat until the caramel has dissolved. Blend the mixture until smooth and pass through a fine sieve. Place a rectangular template on a silpmat and spread the mixture out thinly. Bake at 120C for 40 minutes. Shape the rectangles over a stick while warm to create the cigar shape. Leave to cool and fill with purees. Chakalaka marmalade: 1 onion, diced 1 red pepper, diced 1/2 red chilli, finely chopped 1/2 garlic clove, finely chopped Sweat the above together for ten minutes and add: 15g treacle sugar 5g barbecue spice 5g curry powder 200g tomato concasse


Method: 1 Simmer over very low heat until completely reduced. Blend and pass. Parsnip cream: 100g parsnips, peeled and chopped 50 ml vegetable stock 50 ml single cream 10g unsalted butter salt

Method: 1 Melt the butter in a medium size pot, add the parsnips and sweat over low heat until soft. 2 Add the vegetable stock and the cream. Reduce the liquid by half and season with salt. Transfer mixture to a blender and blend until smooth. 3 Pass through a fine sieve. Leave to cool and place in a small piping bag. 4 Pipe ‘cigars’ with the purees and serve.

Where a hospitality culture meets masterful terful cuisine Join us for the fifth h anniversary of a Gourmet festivall infused with Arabian hospitality. ty. For 16 days and nights, ights, 20 of the finest restaurants in thee UAE capital will come alive with cuisine excellence served up by the most eminentt names in the culinary arts. Choose from chateau teau dinners, exclusive emed and gala dinners masterclasses, themed eat gourmet golf tournament. and even an offbeat Entertain your most ost valued corporate clients in a programme which h becomes the talk of the town d. and further afield. Get ready to celebrate brate this culinary extravaganza’s fabulous fifth! www.gourmetabudhabi.ae ww.gourmetabudhabi.ae

The culinary Canadian Chef Stefan Czapalay is a highly visible Canadian chef with an international reputation, pushing neoCanadian cuisine through numerous competitions and promotions. Always innovative and cutting edge, his passion for food has pushed him to develop strong theories on flavour sensibility and the seasonality of ingredients which he calls ‘Natural Order’. Here, he shares some thoughts on menu development and some recent recipes.

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1/3/13 10:47 AM

Menu development


hef Czapalay’s involvement in numerous research and development projects has taken him around the globe, consulting, learning and growing from his various interactions with chefs and the different ‘cultures of cuisine’ he encounters.He has been chief culinary consultant for Clearwater Seafoods for more than a dozen years and he is a strong supporter of both sustainable harvesting and wild caught seafood. He is actively involved in both product and customer development, inspiring chefs around the world and, as a member of the culinary community, his creative preparation techniques, outstanding presentation and extensive flavour knowledge

have earned him international acclaim. Today, he continues to lend his high standards and expertise to Clearwater customers with the constant creation of quality menu solutions. We asked him to explain how he approaches menu development. “When developing a new recipe there are several points to consider. In particular, I look at the specific establishment and take a closer look at its positioning and intended demographic. It’s important that the recipe fits the personality of the restaurant and also complements other items on the menu.” And recipe development? “In terms of recipe

development, I always want to ensure that ingredients are easily accessible. Fortunately for chefs looking to use any of Clearwater’s products, they can rely on year-round global delivery. I think presentation is also key. The recipe should provide colour, temperature and textural contrast plus a good protein-to-carb-to-fat ratio balance. The dish should be well balanced and easily assembled and duplicated by all staff. It‚Äôs also operationally critical that the dish be well executed regardless of volume. All of these factors need to be considered when developing a recipe and I’ve kept all of these points in mind when developing the following menu solutions. Enjoy!”

Braised sea scallops in Marsala sauce Serves 4 Ingredients: 450g sea scallops (Patagonian) 100g breadcrumbs, seasoned with 5g garlic powder 15 ml olive oil 125 ml Marsala wine 60 ml cream Method: 1 Coat the scallops lightly with the seasoned breadcrumbs. 2 Heat a large skillet to medium heat and add the oil. Lightly brown the scallops for one to two minutes per side, then remove from the pan and set aside. 3 Remove the pan from heat and add the Marsala. Return the pan to the burner and turn up to high heat, reducing the Marsala by 75%, then add the cream. 4 Return the scallops to the pan and reduce the cream until it coats the back of a spoon - about two minutes. 5 Serve immediately.

Thai style split lobster with Asian vinaigrette Serves 4 Ingredients: 4 Clearwater split lobsters, thawed 90g papaya, underripe, julienned 125 ml vegetable oil, divided in half 3g ginger, minced 50 ml rice vinegar 30 ml water 22 ml lime juice 15 ml honey 2g spring onions, thinly sliced 2g coriander 1g small red chilies, thinly sliced 6g sugar 3g chili paste 1g salt pinch of black pepper

Method: 1 Preheat oven to 200C. Remove split lobsters from packaging and place on an ovenproof tray, flesh side up. Rub the lobster meat with oil and season with salt and pepper. Turn oven to broil and place lobsters under broiler for two minutes, until lobster meat is partially cooked. Remove tray from oven and allow to cool slightly. 2 Make the vinaigrette by mixing together remaining oil, with vinegar, water, honey, lime juice, chili paste, sugar and ginger and paint the exposed meat of each split lobster generously. Place lobsters back under broiler for two minutes or until hot through and flesh is fully cooked. Toss remaining vinaigrette with papaya, cilantro, chilies and spring onions. 3 Serve papaya salad with the split lobster and plain, steamed rice.


Menu development

Ceviche style Patagonian scallops with lime and shallot Serves 1 Ingredients: 180g Patagonian scallops, whole - individually quick frozen (IQF) at sea, 100% natural and additive free 1 lime, zested and juiced 1 orange, juiced 1 avocado, diced and tossed in lime juice 1 yellow pepper, diced 1 red pepper, diced 3g ginger, grated 3g coriander, chopped plus a sprig for garnish 6g shallot, minced 1/4 jalapeno, minced with seeds and ribs removed 50 ml olive oil Method: 1 Add diced avocado to lime juice to keep it green. In a non-reactive bowl (glass or plastic) mix together the lime-coated avocado and remaining ingredients and allow to cure in refrigerator for between three and six hours. 3 Arrange scallop ceviche in the centre of an attractive plate. Garnish with a sprig of coriander, minced jalapeno and a twist of lime.

Lobster with braised cauliflower, curry and sweet potato Serves 4 Ingredients: 680g raw lobster meat (approx four lobsters) 140g sweet potato 125 ml white wine 175 ml cream 35% 75 ml olive oil 100g cauliflower 40g onion, peeled and finely minced 10g garlic, peeled and finely minced 10g ginger, finely minced 125 ml coconut milk 18g curry powder 9g tomato paste 18g spring onions, sliced on the bias 1g salt pinch of pepper 50 ml water


Method: 1 Cook lobster then reserve warm. Drain juice and reserve. 2 Cut sweet potato into four disks and roast at 200C until tender. 3 In a saucepan, sauté half of the onion until aromatic but not coloured. Add lobster juice, tomato paste and water, then cover on low heat until tender, stirring occasionally. 4 In a second saucepan, sauté ginger, remaining onion and garlic until aromatic but not coloured. Add white wine and simmer for one minute. Add cream, coconut milk and curry powder, then simmer for two minutes until thick. Season with salt, pepper and strain. Reserve warm. 5 Pour equal amounts of curry sauce between four plates. Place a disk of roasted sweet potato at the back of the plate and top with lobster claws. Slice tail and fan around sweet potato. Add florets of lobster braised cauliflower. Sprinkle with spring onion and serve.


News and analysis for the Middle East’s hospitality professionals



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'FBUVSF Eyad Ali Abdul Rahman reveals his plans to increase inbound tourism and change people’s perceptions of Dubai

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*OUFSWJFXGeneral Manager Luigi Romeniello introduces us to the Rosewood Abu Dhabi

2" Are Dubai’s diners still swayed by a celebrity chef?

2" Procurement - how, when and how much? Hotels share their best practices when it comes to furniture and fittings

5SFOET The latest home furnishing trends from the States; how to market a jazz club; Jumeirah’s new fitness concept; the design tricks that make a menu work


5FOEFST 23 tenders you can’t afford to miss out on

5SFOET Dusit Thani talk Emiratisation; Rezidor feel the benefit of the Box Appeal and we reveal the hottest Q4 restaurant launches


*OUFSWJFXThe H hotel’s General Manager , Guy Bertaud, aims to capitalise on his unique address, One Sh Zayed Road 2" How do some of the region’s top chefs keep their menus evolving in order to drive business and keep things interesting /FXTBOEBOBMZTJTGPSUIF.JEEMF&BTUTIPTQJUBMJUZQSPGFTTJPOBMT

GLOBAL HOTEL INDEX: Asia Pacific 68.1% - Americas 67.9% - Europe 71.3% - Middle East/ Africa 53.8% (Average room occupancy August 2012)

5SFOET Dubai hotel boom continues; Crusing season begins in style; and we hear of hotel success in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia 5FOEFST 25 tenders you need to know about this month!

5FOEFST 28 tenders and new MENA projects you need to know!

GLOBAL HOTEL INDEX: Asia Pacific 65.5% - Americas 63.4% - Europe 70.5% - Middle East/ Africa 60.4% (Average room occcpancy May 2012)

'FBUVSF The right tableware - revenue generator or last minute budget-conscious panic. We talk to the market leaders in the UAE

GLOBAL HOTEL INDEX: Asia Pacific 67.5% - Americas 63.4% - Europe 76.6% - Middle East/ Africa 60.7% (Average room occupancy September 2012)

$-"44*'*&% Majid Sager Al Marri, Director of Hotel Classification at DTCM, shares his vision for the hotels of Dubai

SOLVE THE REVENUE MANAGEMENT PUZZLE We investigate the data heavy world of revenue management. Is your property optimised to make maximum advantage of all your potential revenue streams?

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Hospitality Business Middle East is a different magazine at the cutting edge of the hospitality sector, offering in-depth news and analysis for the region’s hospitality professionals. It delivers the tools and information you need to stay on top in this competitive market. With a focus on business dynamics, it looks at key revenue drivers and pain points via a mix of news, interviews, reports, buyers’ guides, networking events, round tables and analysis. Drive profits up while keeping costs down! To advertise within Hospitality Business Middle East , please contact: Alex Bendiouis, alex@cpidubai.com +971 50 458 9204 Antony Crabb, antony@cpidubai.com +971 55 338 7639 Ankit Shukla, ankit@cpidubai.com +971 55 2572807 Read every monthly issue free of charge via: www.cpidubai.com

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Vibrant colours and simple presentation mark everyday food for Cubans

A bewildering, exhilarating mix of first and third worlds, Cuba will confuse and delight you in equal measures. In fact, the way to understand it is to grasp that reality in Cuba is fluid. And that contradiction is both a way of life and the political reality.


t’s easy for us to look at classic cars and faded buildings, one room farming shacks and queues for everything and see there some kind of heroic beauty. The truth is, life is hard in Cuba - hard and unrelenting thanks to a near half century of an American embargo. The result? A country with effectively 100% literacy and universal healthcare, where traffic jams are non-existent simply because there are so few vehicles; where houses remain in disrepair for years, although kept spotlessly clean; where street corner vendors scrape an extra peso refilling your cigarette lighter with insecticide; and where displays of dusty shampoos and faded clothing in half-empty stores are viewed with as much interest as high-end jewellery in Dubai’s malls. But then there’s the good news! A lack of consumerism means no shopping malls and a lack of American multinationals means no McDonald’s. The challenge to a holiday that will open up the real Cuba to you is a willingness to step off the tourist path, even if you have just a

smattering of Spanish and gain an understanding that in a country of contrasts, prove to yourself that there’s always more than one route to any destination. Especially in Cuba. Take food, as an example. Eat only in tourist destinations (hotels, state-run tourist restaurants and so on) and you can expect the same five or six bland meals, with poor service and a large bill. Move down the food chain towards the peasant diet and all those criteria shift hard in the opposite direction - wider choice, greater taste, friendlier service and a more reasonable bill. In fact, if you can get yourself into the local economy - basically, tourists use dollars and Cubans spend pesos, at a rough 28:1 parity in prices - then you can eat pizza in the street for pennies and buy fresh fruit for almost nothing. Forget too hiring a car and negotiate with a local driver for the day - you may do more than 100kph in a 1960 Lada (and live to tell the tale) or even have a classic 1950s American saloon, with yet another few miles coaxed out of it in a land with no



spares but plenty of invention and resolve. As well as getting closer to reality, you’ll also find a source of information to all those questions you’ll have do Cubans choose where to live? Is there national service? Can US-based relatives send back money or goods? And so on. Our favourite driver, Angel, spent the best part of two days explaining plants and their medicinal properties, as well as demonstrating his natural healing powers - though he got a slap for his trouble, when he diagnosed by sight and then tried to do a head massage on a tour guide’s scalp! Oddly perhaps, in a country whose healthcare system is innovative and so comprehensive that rich American tourists flock to get elective surgery on the cheap if they wish, that an understanding of and closeness to nature is part of everyday life. Pharmacies are full of semi-natural cures, as well as packaged medicines. Of course, in a land of shortages, it pays to utilise everything and anything. In so many ways, Cuba is very different. That hits you first at the airport, when an east Europeanstyle immigration procedure suddenly gives way to life, colour and a completely different smell - a beguiling mix of tropical vegetation and poorly refined petrol. A 20 minute culture shock taxi ride later and you’re in Havana, in our case in converted

THE FOOD Like any island in the Caribbean, food grows in abundance in Cuba, especially fruit, plus the island’s waters deliver amazing seafood. Then why is it so difficult to eat well in a Cuban hotel? The answer is simple: the US embargo means that any quality produce is exported for revenue and, in return, typical vegetable accompaniments to any meal will be simply reheated cubed vegetables imported cheaply. However, get off the tourist trail and the food improves in quality and decreases in price. Street vendors sell pizza or fruit for pennies. Cuban have a famously sweet tooth and you’ll see cakes piled high with icing (cheaper than the cake ingredients!) or ice creams. And don’t forget the rum - harsher than the ‘Cuban’ Bacardi when you first taste it, but it will grow on you. However, the real delights are the simple everyday foods of the people such as Moros y Christos (or black beans and rice), fried plantains and simple soups. And the coffee, of course - ridiculously strong, impossibly sweet and barely more than a mouthful.

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From mojitos to street snacks, there’s lots to enjoy in Cuba! slave quarters of an old colonial Spanish mansion whose inner courtyards made the most of small, discrete spaces. Yes, slaves. Cuba’s history has not been happy. Succeeding waves of invaders from England, France and Spain (let’s be alphabetical for once) killed off the original Amerindians, to replace them with slaves from West Africa, pirates and buccaneers, colonial planters and gangsters. A 19th century struggle for independence from Spain merely brought the island under the US sphere of influence and a bad mix of home-grown dictators and Mafia casino owners, resulting in the pre-war ‘golden’ period of Hemingway and the like. That’s when anything and everything- especially any young female Cuban was up for sale. Complain and expect torture. Fidel Castro, Che Guevara and the rest changed that, winning power in the late 1950s after a classic guerilla campaign of sheer nerve, popular support and plain dumb luck. Then, in the defining moment of modern Cuba, American refusal to accept change saw pragmatic Castro announce, once it was firmly over, that the revolution had been a communist one. Think of all the Cuba cliches - communism, cigars, music on every street corner, Hemingway, rum, brave smiling people. Now forget them for a moment. The real Cuba is all of this but so much more. So much in fact that the travel brochure travesty, focused on resort hotels and expeditions to cigar factories, Hemingway’s favourite bar and not much else, is an insult to a stunningly beautiful island and a society of surprising complexity. Go the resort route, if you will - but why bother, when other Caribbean destinations will give you the same. Just don’t expect to see the real Cuba - if you want high-rise, US-glitz with Cuban influences, go to Miami instead. And leave Cuba to its softer fate. And please don’t make the mistake of thinking the Miami Cubans are freedom-loving patriots trying to rid Cuba of an evil system. In three weeks, we saw plenty to admire and little to admonish in

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MEET CUBANS BUT DO NOT HAND OUT MONEY AS IT EXAGGERATES DIVISIONS IN SOCIETY BUT INSTEAD CONSIDER DONATIONS TO CUBAN SUPPORT GROUPS OR LEAVE GIFTS the system, given the grim realities of modern geopolitics. 50 years of plotting and the Miami Cubans are still drawing up plans to assassinate Fidel, secure in the belief that when he goes, so too will the regime. At that point, expect Cuba to become another Miami, with its gentle, kind, largely honest people sold out to rebuild that pre-war vision of fast money and easy living in the sun - and, yes, McDonald’s. Do yourself a favour and see Cuba before that happens. Step off the tourist bus and open your eyes and ears and mouth!


THE PLACES Trinidad, by Viazul (cheap, tourist-only longdistance coach service), in the South is a pictureperfect colonial town, unspoiled and a World Heritage Site. Bizarrely for a port, this is some way inland, but silting and a need for a breeze drove first pirates and then traders up into the foothills. Cobbled streets, pastel painted houses and the company of persistent traders make up the scene. Here, you can half-close your eyes and imagine you’re in a 1930s Hollywood pirate movie; climb above the town to see ruined churches and a disco in a deep cave; hear music from everywhere, just as you imagined Cuba would be like; go, if you must, to the coast and the delights of the Ancón resort hotel, described by one writer as looking like an unfinished airport building in Uzbekhistan; wonder how the modern car gets parked behind gates on the cathedral portico; and, finally, drive back to Havana, the airport and reality through a wild countryside bursting with all the produce you’ve dreamed about at almost every meal. Old Havana? Okay, it’s touristy but take the chance to wander old streets; take the locals’ ferry across the harbour to Regla and see the centre of Santeria (the strange mix of West Indian spirits and Catholicism), then take a local bus back; visit the tiny former home of Cuban nationalist Jose Marti and wonder how eight attendants are needed for a four room house; view the giant mural of Cuban history in the bus station, just yards from the Revolution Square; check out the strangest Internet cafe in the sumptuous, old Capitol building, but don’t expect a fast connection speed; buy the daily party newspaper on the streets, available in English; open your eyes to inner courtyards and strange domestic scenes through open doors and windows; eat street pizza and drink local beer at the train station, both for pesos; and be

scammed for a few bucks with a smile on your face, because there’s skill, not violence, at work here, all the time. Viñales, in the Pinar del Rio province west of Havana is a stunningly beautiful, quiet farming community (tobacco) full of caves, waterfalls and mogotes - large rock cones popping out of the plains and eroded into bizarre shapes. Here, horse ride across red, mineral-rich earth and share coffee and fresh fruit in a farmer’s shack; relax in a thermal spring or sulphur bath; walk quiet lanes and spot dozens of bird species, seemingly unworried by loud lorries or yourself; accept with equanimity that you’re unlikely to spot the world’s smallest bird, a hummingbird endemic to Cuba; indulge in comparative rum tastings; sit awhile in the small town square and watch life slowly pass by; hire bikes and quickly recall nature’s harsh lesson that, for every hill you speed down, there’s another you have to climb; see a collection of local plants and trees in a small private garden, run by a collective of women for love not profit; eat, as we did, in a one-room house, with views to die for through two open windows; visit Pinar del Rio for the obligatory tobacco factory tour, but with no hard sales pitch; take an expedition north or west for mangrove swamps and clear waters for snorkelling or scuba, although many reefs are wrecked by hurricanes; or just chill in one of the most perfect settings you can imagine. It’s ’muy tranquilo’, as they say.

Even in poverty, Cubans find both colour and style!

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In search of coffee

Chef for hire Andy Campbell loves seeking out local and regional ingredients to use in his cooking. So, when Dubai-based coffee importer Boon Coffee invited him to Ethiopia to visit its suppliers, he couldn’t wait for new taste sensations.


escribed as one of the world’s best kept secrets, Ethiopian food is an exotically spicy mix of vegetables, slow-simmered meat or grain stews and fresh meat sautés. The country is a mix of high plateaus and low-lying plains and home to over 70 million people - mainly Christian in the northern high country and Muslim or animist on the plains. Dietary restrictions due to religions and location have given rise to a wide variety of both meat and vegetarian dishes. For example, the Ethiopian Orthodox Church prescribes a number of fasting periods, including Wednesdays, Fridays and the entire Lenten season, so Ethiopian cuisine contains many dishes that are vegan. Ethiopian dishes are prepared with a distinctive variety of unique spices. Grains like millet, sorghum, wheat and ancient teff (a tiny round grain closely resembling millet) are staples. With much subsistence farming, vegetables and animals are often grown and raised at home. Essential components of the cuisine are berbere (a spicy red pepper paste), niter kibbeh (a spice-infused clarified butter) and injera (a sourdough pancakelike made from a fermented sourdough teff batter). Most traditional dishes have a stewy consistency and sautéd meats add to the variety of a meal. Dining in Ethiopia is characterised by sharing food and a traditional meal is served on a large platter that is draped with the crepe-like injera, with the selection of foods arranged around the centre dish. To eat, diners tear off a piece of injera and use it to scoop up some of the various dishes.


Photographs by Andy Campbell




The last word

Object of desire Possibly a $200 solution in search of a problem, but there’s no denying that the Spin Zester is a cool way of delivering citrus zest in the kitchen. The brigade will be lining up to play with this one!


ossibly it’s a $200 solution in search of a problem, but there’s no denying that the Spin Zester is a cool way of delivering citrus zest in the kitchen. You’ll end up finding loads of new uses for it! Winner of the 2012 kitchen innovation award from the US National Restaurant Association, the innovative Spin Zester uses a combination of blade designs and tension mechanisms that lets a chef produce the highest quality zest in just seconds, safely. The manufacturers claim that zesting has never been done so efficiently.

Every kitchen uses zest, whether for sharp flavour or dazzling colour but zesting has never been a popular job as conventional zesting tools have delivered cut knuckles and fingers as well as aching wrists. The new machine promises higher quality zesting in seconds, without the hassle. It’s made from a combination of industrial glass-filled nylon and high grade stainless steel materials. It also drastically reduces the time involved in zesting: using conventional tools, zesting one citrus can take up to two to three minutes. The Spin Zester? Less then 12 seconds every time!



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Profile for The Pro Chef Middle East

The Pro Chef, 2013 January Rev  

Unlike other F&B trade magazines, The Pro Chef Middle East focuses on chefs and their inspiration, allowing them to demonstrate their talent...

The Pro Chef, 2013 January Rev  

Unlike other F&B trade magazines, The Pro Chef Middle East focuses on chefs and their inspiration, allowing them to demonstrate their talent...