Dubai: The Michelin Guide – the most respected restaurant industry guide – will publish its Dubai edition this month in collaboration with Dubai Tourism. This has created suspicions that the list will be populated by international heads of state in places suitable for tourists. But it is not uncommon for Michelin to collaborate with travel panels for its guides, and the company insists that “a star in Dubai equals a star in Paris.”
Michelin inspectors go to places several times without revealing their identities. This is rare in the region where critics (often unprofessional journalists like this writer) book in advance for a free meal and make sure they have the best experience possible. None of the thousands of restaurants in Dubai know when a Michelin inspector is evaluating their food. That can only be a good thing.
Arab News spoke with three respected grocery stores in Dubai to find out where the city’s dining scene compares to the world’s best culinary cities and what they think could be improved with the advent of Michelin. In terms of cuisine, everyone agreed that Dubai is healthy.
“If you have more local ideas than imported ones, I think this is a sign of a mature and immature dining scene,” said Samantha Wood, founder of non-partisan restaurant research site FooDiva.net. Where is Dubai now? I would not say it is on par with Paris, London, New York or Tokyo – there are still a few ways, especially when it comes to modern Emirates and Middle East ideas – but Dubai is definitely heading in the right direction.
Chef and cookbook author Thalia Tukmush Chopra echoed his feelings. “When I came to Dubai in 2007, I was fascinated by diversity; There was a lot of good food, really real. I know Dubai restaurants are not the most expensive food, but I do not accept them. “I think it is very advanced,” he said, adding that Dubai is the most expensive in the good food sector. “I’m not surprised that a historic Michelin moment is coming; I think this is the time to consider Dubai. But I do not think regular skeptics are the best restaurants here.
Wood also highlighted the range of quality options in Dubai. “My name is a recipe and you will find a good example,” he said. “The only city that can be compared is Singapore where you can get good food in any category under the sun. You do not need to take it to Paris, Tokyo, New York or London.
While there are clear advantages to having your own restaurant in Dubai – the opportunity for a better seaside design or a great view of the famous city weather, for example – there are some big challenges for chefs in the UAE when match their international restaurant. peers. special challenge.
“Dubai is one of the most competitive markets in the world,” said Courtney Brand, food writer and content creator. “I trust a lot of chefs in this city, but I do not know if there are currently three-star restaurants (with the highest Michelin rating) in the UAE. There are reasons that have nothing to do with chefs: we do not have access to the product. It can all come, and unfortunately, due to the growing conditions in the UAE, we do not have it.
“Ingredients have to fly, they affect the quality, taste, seasonality and price point of the menus,” Wood said. “So it’s definitely a challenge here.”
Although all three women believe that by being open to ideas of hydroponics and native origin, especially with regard to fruits and vegetables, the situation is improving, they unanimously agree that there is still much to do.
“I see challenges even in Dubai ” best ‘restaurants when it comes to good red meat,” Saubra said. “It’s holding Dubai back.”
For many restaurants, the lack of new products can be mitigated by better service or a great visual or entertainment experience. But Michelin’s knowledge depends entirely on food. “Service, environment, location, price – none of them were activated,” Wood explained. “It has to do with the quality of the food and how the chef interprets it. He is very focused.
Another thing that brings Dubai in line with the brand is the “bigger the better” approach to the city, which can lead to costly mistakes for restaurant companies. “The situation breaks my heart. For me, it is market research. The restaurant with 30-40 seats is such a fun place that no one went unnoticed. We always go here on a large scale, I do not understand at all why. I like to look at the trend towards small restaurants. ”
The three interviewers hope Dubai restaurants will step up their game with the advent of Michelin. “I think we’ll start to see a great dining experience as tasting menus, more creative recipes and chef – led ideas show up,” Wood said.
But they expect to disappoint a handful of big city names awaiting recognition.
“There are a lot of very fashionable ideas like Ed Nasr or Roberto – this is where you go to experiment, it’s not about the food as long as the food is ‘enough’,” Saubra said. , did not go to Roberto before the Covid-19 epidemic. “Those places should be; When you want to celebrate a promotion or something, when you are 28 years old and go out with friends, Friday nights are much better. But there are unnecessary places to attack the surroundings and the crowd boxes, but you are for food, so you do not have to worry. He cited Bu Qutair, a well-known seafood restaurant, as an example of the latter.
Chowdhury continued: “Those (only) places that are very fashionable and make a lot of noise on social media will not succeed – at the level of culinary integrity.” But he stressed that just because an opinion is imported does not mean it should be ignored. “Religion stands. I’m not a Zuma fan, but if you compare Zuma Dubai to Zuma London, Dubai will definitely beat it.
However, the three eaters expressed confidence that the guide would avoid focusing on local ideas from major international chains (unless their food is truly valued).
“I’ve always been more interested in the local storytelling,” Brand said. “I’m not very interested in the chain of restaurants that are (are) in other countries. I did not steal anything from these chefs, but I just wanted something to enjoy in this place and time.
“I think most restaurants (specialties) are independent, local and run by chefs, because the evidence is interesting and compelling. “If we go the way of imported ideas related to famous chefs, it catches our eye and is very boring.” “You like this guide to attracting culinary tourism, so you can say (people) ‘It’s a lot of fun. “I want to go to Dubai.” The only way to do this is if they have a name they have never heard of.
“If there were 10 Michelin stars in Dubai or 100, it would be fine,” Chaudhry said. “But maybe nothing, maybe we should say so. Maybe what I want to see are places defined by merit. There is no consistency of the trial in Dubai (at the moment). I am very curious to know what is on the list.