The dining scene in Dubai received a big leg-up when it was announced earlier this year that a new chapter of the Michelin Guide would be unveiled here — making it the 36th city on the Michelin roadmap. It was like the Oscars of the culinary world would finally get a platform to binge on. On Tuesday, as many as 69 restaurants were recognised by being included in the first edition — and nine of these have received one star each, and a couple more received two stars.
Many would argue that the Michelin “honour” should have been accorded earlier. For a more than a decade now, Dubai’s food landscape — from dining out to local production to supply chain management to food security — has evolved at breakneck speed. The most obvious “showcase” is, of course, the dining out scene. People from all over the world throng to Dubai to partake of food, glorious food, in all its complexities and nuances; the city is promoted as one of the pre-eminent food capitals of the world. And most importantly, the food trail is staggering. From extravagant buffets to haute luxury ‘tables’… from customised curations to food court selections… and finally, the hole-in-the-wall offerings from Dubai’s ‘hidden gems’. They are all out there, jostling for space, and thriving with panache. Unlike in a Paris or a New York or a Tokyo, food lovers and gourmands — till now — didn’t have the Michelin benchmark to show them the way to gastronomic paradise, and Dubai still prevailed and put a distinctive stamp on its kitchen in a way that was unheard of.
The gamut of cuisines available within city limits (one pointer to the effect is the fact that of the 69 restaurants recognised by Michelin, the scope was incredible: straddling 21 different cuisines) is perhaps unparalleled in the world. This was endorsed by Gwendal Poullennic, the International Director of the Michelin Guide, who said: “What makes Dubai’s culinary landscape so distinctive is its reflection of the more than 200 nationalities that call the city home, delivering an epicurean kaleidoscope. One thing all the restaurants in this fast-paced dynamic and elegant city have in common is they are brimming with passion and enthusiasm. Today, Dubai is settled as an inspiring gastronomic destination and we have no doubts that gourmets from all over the world will be seduced by its unique energy.” As far as city denizens are concerned, Dubai has been a champion in the world of food long before Michelin arrived to give it a starry acclaim. Which is what makes the rite of passage to Michelin-dom so organic, and, at one level, academic.
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