Dubai restaurateur launches ‘next-gen’ cookbook with Spotify playlists and artwork

Dubai - The coffee-table book is the second offering from Natasha Sideris


Karen Ann Monsy

Published: Mon 2 Nov 2020, 6:11 PM

Last updated: Mon 2 Nov 2020, 7:03 PM

There are cookbooks, and then there’s tashas Inspired by restaurateur Natasha Sideris.

The book — meant to be a celebration of food and art — is what we imagine Cookbook 2.0 would look like. For not only does it guide readers through a veritable culinary adventure (like good cookbooks are expected to do), but this one — the second by the founder of tashas boutique cafes in the UAE — comes packed with music playlists and original artworks to boot.

“Our original intention was to create a simple cookbook based on the ‘Inspired Menus’ at our restaurants,” says Natasha, explaining how each of her outlets is inspired by a place or a time, which is reflected in both the menus and the design of each individual store. For example, tashas Al Bateen is inspired by Spain, while tashas Al Barsha is inspired by Le Jardin Secret in Marrakech.

“But as the creative process developed, I decided that I wanted to create a truly spectacular book filled with art that goes with each of the seven chapters based on food from around the world that has inspired me,” she explains about why she went in such a different direction with this offering. “Rather than just providing recipes, I also wanted home cooks to embrace that cooking and serving food is so much more than that. It is about creating an entire experience. Thus, I have provided tips to create the table setting as well as music to really set the stage to provide one’s guests with a true experience.”

Natasha Sideris, founder of The Tashas Group
Natasha Sideris, founder of The Tashas Group

Natasha’s second collection of recipes is divided into seven different chapters, with titles like ‘A New York State of Mind’ and ‘A Day in the Country’ to give readers an idea of what to expect.

But what makes this book different is the specially curated Spotify playlist that accompanies each chapter’s themed menu, and that is meant to “transport” readers to each location. The book is also filled with over 70 pieces of original art from artists such as Alexandra Ross, Michele Nigrini, Mona Saudi, and Akim Monet. “Each of the artworks that have been chosen are inspired by a sense of place relevant to the chapter,” says Natasha, who helms 25 restaurant concepts in the UAE and South Africa. “We worked with artists in South Africa, Canada, the UAE, and Lebanon to source each piece and curate the entire collection of work.”

To anyone curious about what place such artwork has in a book about food, the entrepreneur simply says, “Food is art. As much as a drawing or a painting has different elements that come together to create something unique, so does food.”

It’s that philosophy that has inspired the last element of this ‘next-gen’ cookbook — styling tips for the perfect tablescape. “We eat with all our senses — including sight, sound, touch and smell,” says Natasha. “As a restaurateur, my job is to create the entire environment which includes every element of the setting.”

She’s now hoping to inspire home cooks to do the same. Asked to share a word of advice to help home cooks elevate their art of entertaining, Natasha says, “Think about every single detail — from the ingredients to the menu, the table setting and the music. When you do, the experience for your guests will be a deeper, richer and more fulfilling one.”

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