Eleven of the emirate's leading restaurants, chefs, hosts and managers were honoured last night at the Gourmet Stars Awards gala dinner at the Rocco Forte Abu Dhabi.
A six-course gala dinner was prepared by internationally renowned master chefs, nominees and leading Abu Dhabi chefs. And the awards were the highlight at the closing ceremony of Gourmet Abu Dhabi, a
16-day culinary festival across 20 of the capital's restaurants.
Ten categories covered hosting, cooking and regional and international cuisine, while the Special Honourary Award was presented to Emirati chef Khulood Atiq.
"Abu Dhabi is now full of world-class restaurants and this festival is helping to ensure Emirati cuisine gets a seat at the table," Mr Atiq said.
Restaurant of the Year was clinched by Hakkasan at the Emirates Palace Abu Dhabi. The upmarket Chinese restaurant brand is owned by the Abu Dhabi-based investment company Tasameem.
Hakkasan's executive chef Lee Kok Hua, however, lost out to Patrick Valentin Bischoff who won the Executive Chef of the Year for his work at the Beach Rotana Abu Dhabi.
Geoffrey Boon from Teatro at the Park Rotana claimed the prize for Restaurant Manager of the Year for the second consecutive year. He is the first person in Gourmet Abu Dhabi history to claim back-to-back category wins.
Pastry Chef of the Year was Josef Lorenz Teuschler from Emirates Palace Abu Dhabi, while the Restaurant Chef of the Year was awarded to Amrish Sood from Ushna, at the Souk, Qaryat Al Beri, Bain Al Jessrain. Restaurant Host of the Year was Zakaria Charaf from Diwan L'Auberge at the Emirates Palace Abu Dhabi. Gajendra Sharma from Hilton Abu Dhabi won the Food and Beverage Manager of the Year.
Achievements in the regional cuisine were also recognised. Regional Cuisine Chef of the Year was won by Ali Salem Ebdowa from Mezlai at Emirates Palace Abu Dhabi. Last year, he won the Special Honourary
Mariam Elacel from Cedar Lounge at Fairmont Bab Al Bahr was the Regional Cuisine Restaurant Manager of the Year. The Regional Cuisine Restaurant of the Year went to Atayeb at the Yas Viceroy.
The votes were case by the public, international visitors and an industry panel.
This year the awards attracted local and international interest, with a record 1,092 individuals and outlets nominated, more than double last year's total of 400, in the initial public vote alone.
From there, the nominees with the highest number of overall votes were shortlisted.
The three-strong panel of judges was composed of Spain's Jose Carlos Capel, an internationally-respected food critic and the co-chairman of Madrid Fusion, a global chefs' conference; Australia's Walter
Wagner, the director of food and beverage operations at Melbourne's Crown Entertainment Complex; and the UAE's Saba Wahid, a local television presenter, culinary artist and food stylist.
"There has been an increased public awareness on Gourmet Abu Dhabi, which is now on its fourth year," said Noura Al Dhaheri of the gourmet Abu Dhabi organising committee.
"We want to put the emirate's gastronomic event on the gourmet map and for it to be known internationally."
Next year's Gourmet Abu Dhabi will take place from February 6 to 21.