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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 17 August 2018

Burj Khalifa’s At.mosphere restaurant takes dining to new heights this festive season

Festive fine fare is on the menu this December at At.mosphere restaurant in Dubai's Burj Khalifa. New executive chef Jerome Lagarde unveils the new offerings and Dubai's biggest Alba truffle.
Executive Chef, Jerome Lagarde in his kitchen at the At.mosphere in Burj Khalifa. Reem Mohammed / The National
Executive Chef, Jerome Lagarde in his kitchen at the At.mosphere in Burj Khalifa. Reem Mohammed / The National

There’s a new executive chef at the helm, and new gastronomic delights on the menu, at the world’s highest restaurant, At.mosphere, in Dubai’s Burj Khalifa. Ringing in the changes this Christmas and New Year to the iconic 122nd floor venue is respected chef Jerome Lagarde, who brings more that 20 years’ of experience at Michelin-starred restaurants on three continents. Lagarde has fused his love for traditional French cuisine and modern techniques to serve up unique a la carte offerings which, as a seasonal treat, include dishes generously topped with shavings from the largest truffle in the UAE, the Alba.

What menus have you prepared for guests this Christmas and New Year?

The menus are actually “giving something back”, in respect to the likes of Auguste Escoffier [the revered French chef regarded as the master of modern cuisine]. With Escoffier, and contemporaries of his as my inspiration, I’m evoking the spirit of Christmas with classics like Capon ballotine with porcini Duxelles and truffle jus and foie gras with sweet breads as well as dishes of venison and crayfish. It’s really old-school French with a modern-day twist.

Why is this season’s produce almost exclusively from France?

I think the products truly speak for themselves. They’re exceptional to start with and our cooking techniques will do the rest – talent is just one per cent of it. It’s vital that the quality be there for our guests and for that reason I’ve brought in produce like lobster from Brittany. I’ve also got Espelette pepper, with its chilli-like character from the Basque country, where I come from. It’s everywhere on the menu, I love to work with it.

You’re aiming to “go green” around the end of January. Tell me more about the Garden at 442 Metres menu.

Yes, I’ll be introducing a completely vegetarian, wonderfully elaborate a la carte menu. I’m going to need a lot of micro herbs, baby vegetables and small salads, and it would be great if there was a garden locally supplying us all that we need. It’s something I’d love to develop before the end of the year.

How are you planning to make that happen?

Well, I’d like to have an Emirati partner, farmer-cum-producer, to help me develop some ingredients for At.mosphere. I’d also like to get schools, mainly kindergartens involved, as I believe it’s important to teach children how much herbs and vegetables contribute to a nutritious diet.

The process should be an interactive one with, kids going on day trips to the garden, learning how to care for the chemical-free, pure products the farm would be supplying to us. I think it’s the right moment to do this with a local partner. Dubai continues to grow and so will our menu, so why not develop them together?

Is it something you’ve tried and tested before when you worked in the United States, Europe and Asia?

Yes, when I was in China in 2005, I found it difficult to get the products I was looking for. So, I approached a local farmer and asked him to grow specific things, like celeriac. I worked with him to determine the right season, weather conditions even perfect watering amount. The following year we achieved the products we wanted; the quality was superb. It was a fantastically satisfying experience for me and for him as this product had not been grown in China before.

Quickfire with Jerome Lagarde

Culinary idol:

Michel Guérard, who’s had three Michelin stars for almost 50 years and never let it alter his personality.

Comfort food:

A very simple bowl of pasta with a bit of Espelette pepper, that’s all.

Downtime:

Time with my wife and two sons, sports and reading cookbooks.

Dream guest:

Lyonnaise chef Paul Bocuse. Arguably the biggest French chef because he opened the door for us to really experiment with cuisine. He’s more that just a chef – he’s the father of chefs – the one who made our profession different. I have immense respect for him and would cook him beef cheek with Calimocho – a Basque dish in Coka-Cola and red wine sauce.

• A selection of festive menus are available at At.mosphere from December 20 to 31, from Dh800 to 1,400 per person. For reservations, contact 04 888 3828 or email reservations@atmosphereburjkhalifa.com

rduane@thenational.ae

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