x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

The attraction of healthy food

Meet Paul Frangie, a Dubai-based Lebanese-Dutch model whose latest venture is the website This Dude Knows Food, which features a culinary web show.

Paul Frangie, a Lebanese-Dutch model and chef, is launching a website called This Dude Knows Food. Courtesy Paul Frangie
Paul Frangie, a Lebanese-Dutch model and chef, is launching a website called This Dude Knows Food. Courtesy Paul Frangie

With his long hair billowing in the wind, a winning smile and a moody gaze, it is not clear which came first – Paul Frangie the chef or the (apparently topless) model.

In fact, Frangie likes to take his top off rather a lot. There he is on his website, flashing his ripped abs in his model portfolio, emerging dripping from a swimming pool in Cosmopolitan magazine’s eligible bachelors competition or taking his shirt off for a beach shot for one of his magazine covers.

But the 28-year-old’s latest venture is strictly all about food – it even says so on the packet. This Dude Knows Food is a new interactive website featuring bite-sized episodes, which will be screened online to show how to eat well with simple, healthy recipes.

In an online market already overcrowded with largely female food bloggers, the Dubai-based Frangie hopes his professional training as a chef and personal experience – he has played rugby at an international level for the Dutch national under-20s squad and is gluten and dairy intolerant so is careful about what he eats – will put him a cut above the rest. His chiselled looks and sculpted six-pack will no doubt help as well.

“Healthy food has the stigma of being bland and boring. I am here to prove the opposite,” Frangie says.

“I originally planned an e-book but quickly moved into producing videos because that is the field I want to be in.”

The six-part series, which has the same name as his website, will be screened from Tuesday and will feature two-minute episodes in which Frangie tackles one recipe in each.

Dishes will include Thai prawn curry, Mediterranean quiche, ­gluten-free pancakes and sticky date brownies.

The shows were filmed over three months during the summer and mark Frangie’s aspirations to become a TV chef.

This Dude Knows Food will feature tips and recipes and will eventually expand to include fitness, travel and fashion. There will be interactive content with viewers able to post their own pictures to Instagram.

The website is designed to be convenient for smartphones and people on the go. The show will also be uploaded to YouTube.

“I like people to look at what I’m doing and think: ‘I could do that at home,’” says Frangie, a former Dubai College student.

He says he’s still planning to release an e-book at a later stage and hopes to open his own restaurant. “The site was originally going to be a platform for me to share my recipes but it developed from there.”

Frangie was born in Amsterdam to a Lebanese father and a Dutch mother, raised in Dubai and studied economics at university in the Netherlands. He then ran a consultancy firm for a year in Dubai before deciding to embark on a career in food.

Frangie completed a five-month Cordon Bleu diploma at the Tante Marie Culinary Academy in the UK in 2011 and did a month’s work in Restaurant Gordon Ramsay and Yotam Ottolenghi’s Nopi in London before returning to Dubai, where he spent the next year on modelling assignments for the likes of Harper’s Bazaar Arabia and Esquire.

“I was not always crazy about food but it has always been bubbling under the surface. As soon as I was tall enough to reach the stove, I was frying my own eggs,” he says.

Last summer, he set himself up as a freelance chef, cooking for private occasions and acting as a culinary consultant.

“I did not have any time to get cooking and something inside me was burning to get back in the kitchen,” Frangie adds.

“I just want to show people how easy it is to create healthy and delicious food.”

And to do that, he might even keep his shirt on.

The six-part series will be screened on www.thisdudeknowsfood.com starting on Tuesday