Last Wednesday's Abu Dhabi Gourmet Stars Awards marked the end of the fifth edition of Gourmet Abu Dhabi. Thirteen different awards were handed out over the course of the evening, including three new categories: Best Sustainability Practice, Best Use of Local Produce by a Chef and Spirit of the Festival.
Danny Kattar of the InterContinental Abu Dhabi walked away with the coveted Executive Chef of the Year award. “Having been nominated twice before, I was determined that this was going to be my year. The feeling of finally winning couldn’t be better,” he said. Kattar joined the InterContinental Abu Dhabi last January and has been with the InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) for 16 years – the Crowne Plaza, Staybridge Suites and Holiday Inn are all part of this global brand.
“For the last five years the IHG has made a real effort to support Gourmet Abu Dhabi,” he explained. “What I try to do is come up with stand out ideas for the festival, decide on the menu concepts, think about which chefs we’d like to host and then pitch these thoughts to the organisers.
“For us, it was important that rather than hosting a chef who was into molecular gastronomy - which I think many people in Abu Dhabi are still wary of - we invite chefs whose cooking our customers can relate to. Strong names and real cuisine works”. Kattar also said that he feels Gourmet Abu Dhabi is extremely beneficial to the dining scene in the capital. “There’s plenty of competition between the hotels; we all take note of what each other are doing and want to be the best. I’m already looking to next year, planning the gala dinner and thinking about how we can improve.”
The Abu Dhabi Gourmet Stars Awards winners:
‘Executive Chef of the Year’ presented by Abu Dhabi Media - Danny Kattar, InterContinental Abu Dhabi 'Restaurant of the Year’ presented by Motivate – Hakkasan, Emirates Palace ‘Food and Beverage Manager of the Year’ - Moustafa El Gayar, Shangri-La Hotel, Qaryat Al Beri ‘Regional Cuisine Chef of the Year’ - Jouni Ibrahim, Li Beirut, Jumeirah at Etihad Towers ‘Regional Cuisine Manager of the Year’ - Suresh Yadhav, Indigo, Beach Rotana ‘Regional Cuisine Restaurant of the Year’–Agadir, The Westin Abu Dhabi Golf Resort & Spa ‘Restaurant Chef of the Year’ presented by Acqua Panna & S.Pellegrino– Alexandra Pernetta, Bord Eau, Shangri-La Hotel, Qaryat Al Beri ‘Restaurant Manager of the Year’ - Ashwin Naidu, Marco Pierre White Steakhouse & Grill, Fairmont Bab Al Bahr ‘Restaurant Host of the Year’ –Yuni Sukmawati, Teatro, Park Rotana ‘Pastry Chef of the Year’ - Praveen Kumar, Hilton Abu Dhabi ‘Best Sustainability Practice’ presented by BBC Good Food Middle East - Fairmont Bab Al Bahr ‘Best Use of Local Produce by a Chef’ presented by Local Harvest – Nicolas Perz, Hyatt Capital Gate ‘Spirit of the Festival’ presented by Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority – Ushna, Souk Qaryat Al Beri