With 12 new restaurants participating (bringing the total to 30), 150 different dishes priced between Dh15 and Dh30 on sale, live music from The Noisettes and The Counterfeit Beatles, chef demonstrations, cookery schools, an entertainment stage, Kids Zone, a food market and an array of both celebrity and local chefs gracing various stages, this year's Taste of Dubai looks set to be a good one.
Starting tomorrow and running until Saturday, the festival presents a great opportunity for trying food from restaurants that you wouldn't usually visit or that have opened recently. With that in mind, the Brazilian restaurant Frevo is pitching for the first time, with the chef de cuisine Fernando Lima and his team serving a selection of bites from their menu at the Fairmont, The Palm. Entertainers in traditional Brazilian dress will be on-hand for photo opportunities and samba dancers will be taking to the stage to add to the carnival atmosphere.
The new JW Marriot Marquis is well represented, with Rang Mahal, Prime 68 and Izakaya all showcasing their wares and hoping to entice customers in. Asado, Armani/Amal, Armani/Ristorante and Thiptara are also making their debut appearances. Fans of Rivington Grill's fish and chips or the old favourite Mango Tree need not despair though - they're there too and will be joined by Indego by Vineet, Rhodes Twenty10 and Ronda Locatelli. The celebrity chefs who lend their names to those restaurants - Vineet Bhatia, Gary Rhodes and Giorgio Locatelli - will also be in attendance, so keep your eyes peeled.
Among those appearing at Taste of Dubai for the first time is the Food Network's Jenny Morris, whose shows are broadcast here on OSN. Morris has a cookery school in South Africa and a number of books and television series to her name (including the successful Jenny Morris Cooks Morocco, which was broadcast in 90 countries). She doesn't take herself too seriously, though, and describes her cooking as "easy, tasty and uncomplicated". Her affable nature, meanwhile, has earned her the nickname "The Giggling Gourmet", so expect lots of banter, fresh ingredients and tips and tales from her travels when she takes to the stage.
The UAE-based chef Andy Campbell will be testing visitors' sense of taste and smell - and encouraging them to really think about what they're eating - during his Dine in the Dark sessions. Blindfolded guests will be served three substantial canapés, before being asked to identify 20 ingredients he used to make them, from a list of 100. Those who answer correctly will be given a chance to win a dinner worth Dh5,000 cooked in their own home by Campbell.
With prizes in mind, if you pass by the Fairmont Hotels & Resorts stall, be sure to enter its competition to win a weekend stay at the Fairmont Grand Hotel Kyiv in Ukraine, with a cooking class thrown in for good measure. And if you're keen on eating out, the Ultimate Dining Experience competition run by the festival organisers will certainly appeal: the prize, which is worth Dh15,000, will see the winner bestowed with 30 vouchers worth Dh500 each for use at this year's participating restaurants.
If it's home cooking with minimal hassle that floats your boat or you're a bit of a gadget fiend, the Philips Jamie Oliver HomeCooker will be available to purchase from the Philips stand as part of an exclusive pre-launch in the region. This kit not only helps prepare ingredients, it also cooks them and features a temperature gauge and a self-stirring device, meaning dishes such as risotto can be left unattended.
Whether you want to eat, cook, shop or sit back and learn from the culinary pros, you'll find yourself well catered for over the next three days.
- Over the next two-and-a-half days, the chefs at Rivington Grill will be peeling and chopping around 6,790 potatoes to satisfy demand for their much-loved fish and chips.
- At Nobu, the chefs have ordered in 70kg of black cod so they won't sell out of their signature dish.
- At Ronda Locatelli, pasta machines will soon be going into overdrive to prepare 2,700 handmade ravioli for the event.
Standard tickets for Taste of Dubai cost Dh60 in advance and Dh80 at the door. Visit www.tasteofdubaifestival.com. Festival timings: Thursday, 4pm-12am; Friday, 12pm-12am; Saturday, 12pm-11pm
For more on food, restaurants and recipes read the The National blog Bites here.
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