'I never cook a dish that I won't eat myself'

CRYSTAL CHANDELIERS, fine leather sofas, and a grand piano await you at Dubai's premier Capital Club. The catch? It's by invitation only.

By Mohamad Kadry (Staff Reporter)

Published: Sat 21 Jun 2008, 11:41 AM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 3:18 PM

That's right, because this swanky members-only joint is so exclusive, only invited guests are allowed to savour the delicacies of Michelin-star Executive Chef Jerry Bastiaan, while relaxing with the finest cigars and liquor this side of Las Vegas.

Located at the heart of the Dubai International Financial Centre, this private business club is exclusively designed to meet the demands of those from the top echelons of business, finance, and government. Providing the highest level of comfort and cuisine, the Capital Club's food can only be outmatched by its personalised service. But this comes as no surprise, because while most upscale restaurants have the task of impressing a new set of clientele each day, the Capital Club must continue to reinvent itself to its small but loyal group of members.

A giant mural of running horses adorns the foyer, as guests ascend down a winding staircase of marble, red carpets, and thick upholstered accents. The dining tables are set in the finest glass and cutlery, with plates accented in silver and gold. A separation wall in the main dining hall hosts a myriad of the world's finest wines, and a private humidor safeguards cigars from as far away as Cuba. Elegance is essential to meeting the standards of the Capital Club's patrons, as they are the titans of industry who fork out a pretty hefty but undisclosed fee to retain the exclusive right to enter at a whim.

The Executive Chef of Dubai's most exclusive restaurant, Chef Bastiaan caters to his 814 invitation-only members with an international French style of cooking. This Michelin Star rated culinary expert made the move to the UAE eight months ago, and is set on transforming the idea of 'exclusive dining' by giving Capital Club members a reason to fight their way into his kitchen, and gain a seat at the classiest joint in town.

How did you begin in this industry, what compelled you to join the culinary field?

I began over 20 years ago at the age of 18. I spent the first two decades in Holland. In school we had to make choices on our career, and I didn't want an office job behind a computer. My father worked in insurance and my mother worked in a hospital, and I always wanted to do something creative with my hands, whether it was cooking or painting.

Was your family supportive of you and your decision to be a chef?

Yes but in the beginning they wondered why I was going into hospitality, working in the evenings, weekends, and vacations, but they were very supportive.

What is the best thing about what you do?

It's all about making people happy, it's about food, drinks, its about entertaining people, it's about giving people a feeling that when they leave my restaurant they enjoyed themselves.

What influence did your home life have on your culinary skills, was your mother or father a good cook?

My mother is not one of the best chefs in the world. My mother is from a Dutch region where their style of cooking is overcooked, and well done. It consists of a lot of stews, rice, but she can make great dishes with it, such as goat stew with prunes. It's not a place with a real culinary background. I never cooked at home, and I decided to pursue hospitality later on.

What is your favorite style of cooking?

Of course it is fine dining; I like to call it Cosmopolitan French. It's a traditional way of French cooking, but it has an international twist. It's not boring French, it's light and healthy and has influences from all over the world.

What can members expect when they dine at the Capital Club?

They can expect a different style of cooking compared to other places in town. They can expect the best quality of products found in the world. They can expect a warm welcome, a feeling like you're coming home. People know you by name, and you have a close relationship with the patron. As for the meal, I never cook a dish that I won't eat myself.

One of the highest honours a chef can receive is the Michelin Star, which you've attained. How does that make you feel?

It's something I have worked hard for. Being a chef on this level of quality, it's an achievement and a lot of work and investment of time. It's making sure that every day the quality is the same; you simply can't afford to have an off-day. It's a lot of pressure to keep the Michelin Star, which can be taken away. It's about creating new things, changing things, making things better, because as soon as you think you are there and the job is done, then your quality will go backwards.

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