Chefs get emotional, hail Dubai as 'city with soul' as restaurants get Michelin Stars

Eleven eateries awarded stars, as 14 recognised as Bib Gourmand restaurants

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KT photo/M. Sajjad
KT photo/M. Sajjad

Nasreen Abdulla

Published: Tue 21 Jun 2022, 6:45 PM

Last updated: Tue 21 Jun 2022, 6:46 PM

The inaugural Michelin Guide in Dubai appreciated 69 restaurants that cover 21 cuisines for their extraordinary food. Eleven eateries were awarded the prestigious Michelin stars, while 14 were recognised as Bib Gourmand restaurants.

“I don’t even know what to say,” said a visibly emotional Renaud Dutel from STAY by Yannick Alléno, which won 2 Michelin stars. “It recognised the years and years of efforts we have put into our restaurant.”

For the French chef, moving to Dubai was a big revelation. “I had never been outside Europe before coming to Dubai,” he said. “When I first came, I thought it was just a fast city with tall buildings. But when I stayed here I realised that it is a city with a soul. Every small lane is a discovery. People are really nice and warm here.”

Showcasing the excellence, talent and creativity of Dubai’s culinary landscape, 9 restaurants serving a diverse array of cuisines, from Portuguese to Indian, Japanese and Chinese, received one Michelin star. Two restaurants received 2 Michelin stars.

“The Michelin Star Guide coming to Dubai means food aficionados will now come to Dubai to eat,” said Himanshu Saini, the chef at Trèsind Studio, which received one Michelin star.

“Food tourism will definitely get a boost in the region. It is great for the F&B industry. The competition will push restaurants to work harder. The diners will definitely be the winners in this.”

However, the chef, who started his journey over 14 years ago, admits that the accolade brings with itself huge responsibilities. “A star means the work begins now,” he said. “People will come in with huge expectations and we need to work harder. Of course, next year, we will try and push for 2 Michelin stars.”

The International Director of the Michelin Guide praised the restaurants in the city for their 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 very unique energy,” he said.

“This is great recognition for our hard work,” said Giovanni Papi, the chef of Armani Ristorante that was awarded one Michelin star. “We are really honoured. I think the Michelin Guide coming to Dubai has given chefs the motivation to improve ourselves in terms of food quality. Chefs will now have a great incentive to improve their food, restaurant and service. I think it is going to take the dining scene of Dubai to the next level.”

The Italian spent his early years travelling all over Europe and learning his roots. Then he decided to venture outside of Europe to discover different cultures. “For me it is important to know culture through cooking,” he said. “That is why my personal motto has been to discover people through food.” He has been working at Armani Ristorante for over four years and is currently the chef de cuisine.

Chef-owner Akmal Anuar of 11 Woodfire, which received one Michelin star, thinks that the star guide is going to raise the bar for food in Dubai. “People who get stars will be a motivation for other chefs to try harder,” he said. “It is something that they will have to look forward to. I think the dynamics of professional kitchens and chefs will change for the better in Dubai.”

For the Singaporean-born chef, food is all about family and relationships. “My parents had an eatery back in Singapore,” he said. “I practically grew up surrounded by food. When I cook, I hope that the person who eats will be happy and settle down to chat with their family or dining partner.”

Akmal has worked in four countries all over the world but home is Dubai. “I have been here for 10 years,” he said. “My wife and children live here. Now, my biggest dream is that one of my children will come to work for me. Not necessarily as a chef. They can be in any department but I really hope that they will want to come work for me. And then I can retire.”


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