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Dubai Food Festival: Maestro Pierre Gagnaire on what it means to participate in 2021

UAE one of the few places in the world putting on events


David Light

Published: Sun 21 Mar 2021, 6:03 PM

Last updated: Sun 28 Mar 2021, 9:25 AM

WITH HIS NAME above the door of countless establishments around the world, which have allowed him to notch up three Michelin Stars, and with a fair few television appearances under his belt including a stint on Japan’s Iron Chef in the mid ‘90s, long before its American usurpation, there is perhaps no greater authority on fine food than Pierre Gagnaire. The 70-year-old is notorious for his culinary philosophy: “facing tomorrow, but respectful of yesterday” rendering him one of the first innovators in French cuisine while maintaining the traditions we demand. Gagnaire’s vision saw him arrive in Dubai around 13 years ago to launch a project in what was then a burgeoning restaurant scene. His focus quickly shifted to Festival City, where his name continues to draw in the clientele to this day. Currently in the city to mark Dubai Food Festival beginning March 25, we caught up with maestro to find out what’s going on.

READ MORE: All you need to know about this year's Food Festival

How does it feel to be taking part in a food festival this year? Did you think it would happen in 2021?

It is great news, especially with the problems that the world has faced over the last 12 months. Restaurants and the food industry form a very important part of any city, and the fact that Dubai Food Festival 2021 could go ahead is testament to Dubai, its leadership and its people. It creates a great atmosphere. I’ve just come from Paris which at the moment is unfortunately still very quiet in comparison. We hope that restaurants around the world will soon be full with happy diners once again.

What have you got planned for Dubai Food Festival?

We are launching our brand-new menu at Pierre’s Bistro & Bar. Dubai Food Festival gives us the centre stage to unveil our new dishes which we hope our customers will love as much as we do. This is something that I’ve worked on closely with Chef Mathieu Balbino, Chef De Cuisine at Pierre’s Bistro & Bar, who leads the culinary team at the restaurant while I’m out of time. He’s a testament to the team and the direction of the restaurant.

Not only that, but we have also introduced a special Afternoon Tea Experience as part of Foodie Experiences for Dubai Food Festival 2021 at Choix Patisserie and Restaurant par Pierre Gagnaire. It is the only afternoon tea in the city signed by a three Michelin Star Chef, something that I am very proud of.

Presumably your Dubai endeavours have been open more than your others since the pandemic. How happy are you with your UAE enterpise?

We were very lucky to be able to re-open our Dubai restaurants, Pierre’s Bistro & Bar and Choix Patisserie and Restaurant par Pierre Gagnaire. Like many of us, when and where we could re-open has been a common question on our minds since the start of the pandemic. I am delighted that my Dubai restaurants are now back welcoming diners, not just for myself, but for my team. We are back doing what we love best.

How has this situation affected the dining industry and are you optimistic about recovery?

I am optimistic about the recovery. It has of course, had a significant effect. However, people need to socialise, it is an important part of the way that society functions. As normality resumes, it is important that we remember how important it is to spend time with friends and family. That is why the quality of service, providing our customers with a warm and meaningful welcome, is now more important to me than ever.

Away from the pandemic, how has Dubai’s culinary scene evolved since your first visit many years ago?

The population of Dubai has increased dramatically since my very first visit all those years ago. It is now a global destination and a tourist hotspot. As a result, the culinary scene has flourished. Food and gastronomy plays a huge part of the decision making for holiday makers and tourists, therefore by developing the city’s culinary scene it has further enhanced itself as a must visit global destination.

You’ve made a few TV competition appearances, do you enjoy those, and do you have any more planned?

Yes, I do enjoy them. I do not have anything planned soon. My work is in the kitchen - that is where I belong and where my passion lays.

If someone is dining in your Dubai restaurant for the first time, what is the one dish they HAVE to order?

From light bites to three-courses, our menus have been created using the highest quality ingredients whilst paying attention to price, ensuring that customers are receiving value for money.

The Choix Afternoon Tea will be available daily during the festival from 12pm to 6pm at Dh150 for two (Dh100 solo guests).

A citywide culinary celebration taking place from March 25 to April 17, here’s what else we’re looking forward to this Dubai Food Festival

Dubai Restaurant Week

Dubai Restaurant Week offers a calendar of exclusive dining experiences in partnership with the city’s best restaurants. With specially curated three course dinner or two course lunch menus at exceptional prices, they save you up to 50 per cent when dining out.

Hidden Gems

Dubai is dotted with numerous hidden culinary gems and to celebrate these resident-favourite pocket-friendly eats, DFF will be releasing a list of 32 of the best Hidden Gems in the city.

Foodie Experiences

Foodie Experiences returns for another year of DFF to deliver unique, one-of-a-kind food adventures with Dubai’s most anticipated masterclasses, chef’s tables and experimental dining experiences in unique venues across the city.

Dine and Win

The classic ‘Dine & Win’ promotion returns, in partnership with Zomato. Spend Dh50 at up to 2,800 participating outlets to be in with the chance of winning a three-month Zomato Pro membership and the grand prize, a GAC GS3 SUV!

Home Edition

Following the success of Home Edition in DFF 2020, shoppers in the city can be in with the chance to win a years’ worth of groceries at selected hypermarkets including Waitrose, Spinneys and Lulu-Hypermarket when you spend Dh250 or more.

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