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01 March 2024

Food fortnight to steam up capital's kitchens

Chefs Kamal Mouzawak from Lebanon, left, and Tareq Ibrahim from Egypt at Gourmet Abu Dhabi 2009. (SUPPLIED)

By Keith J Fernandez

There's plenty of eating and even some learning to be had over the next two weeks as the second edition of Gourmet Abu Dhabi gets under way in the capital.

With the recession having barely affected the wallets of Abu Dhabi's big spenders, the culinary arts festival has expanded in size and scope in its second year.

"With an expanded programme comprising more masterchefs and culinary experts, new masterclasses and greater variety of hosting establishments, we are targeting an overall attendance of 4,000 guests for Gourmet Abu Dhabi this year," says Dayne Lim Kok Chun, Product Development Director, Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA), organiser of the event.

About 2,500 guests were in attendance at the various events across Gourmet Abu Dhabi last year.

Special themed dinners will also take in more venues than ever including the new five-star Fairmont Bab Al Bahr and Yas Hotel, which overlooks Abu Dhabi's Yas Marina Circuit, home of the 2009 Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

The event runs throughout 18 of the finest restaurants and outlets in Abu Dhabi from February 5 to 19. The programme features award-winning masterchefs sharing a total of 22 Michelin stars, including three Michelin-star chefs Alain Passard and Régis Marcon, two-star chefs Claude Bosi and Heinz Winkler, James Beard Award winner Charlie Trotter and Paco Roncero, perhaps the most outstanding disciple of El Bulli's Chef Ferran Adria.

And, following attendee feedback, a number of ladies' only masterclasses are being built into the programme.

"We are taking the event to a whole new level with some of the finest talents in the culinary world being hosted here," said Peter Knipp of the Gourmet Abu Dhabi organising committee.

"A huge range of tastes is being catered for including vegetarian, a special dinner given over to game cuisine and another to the much-heralded Cuisine Vitale with its expansive use of herbs and the freshest of ingredients. We have also, for the first time, chefs from Turkey, Lebanon and Japan expanding the educational and cultural impact of the event."

While the ADTA did not disclose its financial investment into the event, Kok Chun said it would "be equitable with our targeted returns for the event in terms of tourism revenue, overall media value, destination brand and community activation". He said Gourmet Abu Dhabi was in line with the ADTA's goals of nurturing signature events and tourism products, towards its long-term positioning of the emirate as an outstanding, globally recognised and sustainable destination.

"Not only do we view Gourmet Abu Dhabi as a manifestation of the capital's growing reputation as a trend-setting culinary destination, we hope that the event will serve to inspire our culinary and hospitality standards to greater heights as our tourism partners will have this unique opportunity to interact with some of best in the business," he said.

The programme also includes a forum comprising specialised workshops designed to function as knowledge transfer platforms between internationally recognised experts and their local and regional counterparts.

Another initiative aimed at spurring the local industry on to ever greater heights – the Abu Dhabi Gourmet Stars Awards – is also back in an extended format. It recognises individuals and organisations who contribute to the capital's evolution into an internationally acclaimed gastronomic destination.

Your journey to gastronomic discovery

Tam Kwok Fung

Shangri-La Hotel, Qaryat Al Beri

For those who believe in the power of traditional Chinese medicine in food, you will be amazed by the culinary talent of Chef Kwok Fung.

- February 6 to 9

A Surreal Evening with Bob Blumer

Crowne Plaza, Yas Island

Join the celebrity chef for an evening guaranteed to be filled with laughter and delectable cuisine.

Tickets cost Dh750

- February 7

Masterclass by Roy Yamaguchi

Armed Forces Officers Hotel

Famed for his Hawaiian fusion cuisine, Chef

Yamaguchi hosts a class on how to produce and present dishes. 

- February 8

Masterclass by Regis Marcon

Armed Forces Officers Hotel

The three-Michelin-starred chef, who is known for his signature use of mushrooms in his menus, shows how to create the finest of French cuisine.

Admission is free.

- February 11

Foie Gras Dinner with Egon Müller-Scharzhof and

Dieter Kaufmann

Crowne Plaza, Yas Island

An evening of pure decadence with foie gras and vintages.

Tickets cost Dh850

- February 12

Maison Paul Jaboulet Aîné with Masterchef Regis Marcon Dinner

Étoiles, Emirates Palace

Savour Chef Marcon's epicurean mastery matched with the finest vintages from Maison Paul Jaboulet Aîné.

Tickets cost Dh850

- February 13

Industry Forum

Armed Forces Officers Hotel

A workshop highlighting an array of exciting ethnic cuisines ranging from Lebanese to Turkish and Arabic as esteemed chefs share dishes from their regions and industry veterans shed insight on the hospitality and restaurant scene.

Admission is free

- February 13

Heinz Winkler

Emirates Palace

The owner of the Michelin-starred Residenz Heinz Winkler in Bavaria hosts a three-day event.

- February 16 to 19

Masterclass by Vineet Bhatia

Crowne Plaza, Yas Island

The Michelin-starred chef serves up a variety of dishes in this masterclass.

- February 18


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