The Gourmet Abu Dhabi awards gala on Wednesday night at St Regis Abu Dhabi capped off a successful two-week culinary affair that celebrated creativity, innovation and a passion for good food from masterchefs around the world.
The Gourmet Abu Dhabi awards gala honours the top chefs and restaurants in the capital. There were nearly 5,000 nominations spread over 12 categories for this year’s awards — a 71 per cent increase from last year. An expert panel of judges, which also includes public voting, narrowed the field to 40 finalists who were all invited to last night’s gala.
But before the awards could be dished out, diners needed to be filled up. With one last chance to impress food lovers in the festival’s 6th year, chefs served up some surprising dishes to a food-loving crowd of about 350.
The second course of the five-course meal was titled Taste of the Earth and included mushroom meringue and “Mushroom Stones and Soil”. It could have easily passed as a work of art. The presentation of the dishes was a highlight of the evening and some looked (almost) too good to eat. Guests around the ballroom appeared impressed and a myriad of camera flashes lit up the night as each dish was placed before them. For the third course, guests dined on a notable burrida de pesce — a stew of lobster, vongole and hammour, which was followed by a standout herb- and pine nut crusted-rack of lamb. Tickets to the event cost Dh800 and, assuredly, guests got their money’s worth.
The food was a star in last night’s gala, but not the only star. Guests were wowed by international artist Brad Blaze’s speed painting and were entertained by the Aussie/Kiwi music act Popera Trio. American comedian Mike Batayeh — who was born to Middle Eastern parents — also performed, which undoubtedly settled the nerves of the finalists waiting anxiously for the announcement of the winners.
With so many restaurants in Abu Dhabi — and many more on the horizon — awarding the talents who continue to elevate the food scene in the Emirate in an Oscar-style awards gala was the perfect end to this year’s Gourmet Abu Dhabi.
And the winners are …
Best Sustainability Practice Award: Yas Island Rotana
Best Use of Local Produce: Chef Sunil Dutt Rai, Ushna, Souk Qaryat Al Beri
Regional Cuisine Restaurant Manager of the Year: Maneeshdev GV, Rangoli, Yas Island Rotana
Restaurant Manager of the Year: Alena Chaika, 18º, Hyatt Capital Gate Abu Dhabi
Restaurant Chef of the Year: Cyril Calmet, Bord Eau, Shangri-La Hotel
Pastry Chef of the Year: Jocelyne Fallait, Beach Rotana
Food + Beverage Manager of the Year: Romain Mejecaze, Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi
Restaurant Host of the Year: Soukaina Sagouti, Mezlai, Emirates Palace
Regional Cuisine Chef of the Year: Wafaei Al Zaham, Atayeb, Yas Viceroy
Regional Cuisine Restaurant of the Year: Mezlai, Emirates Palace
Restaurant of the Year: Brasserie Angelique, Jumeirah at Etihad Towers
Executive Chef of the Year: Cladys Magagna, Fairmont Bab Al Bahr