'It's important not to get complacent with dishes'

Its important not to get complacent with dishes

Francky Semblat, Executive Chef, Al Muntaha, Burj Al Arab on the importance of consistency and creativity

Your favourite memory of food.
I have quite a few and they all involve good friends and excellent meals in restaurants where quality, fresh ingredients are used, or travelling with friends to explore local cuisines.
What's the most challenging part of your job?
Consistency and creativity. I need to provide constant training and guidance to my team in order to develop their confidence to work well and independently. But also, be creative, without neglecting the natural flavours of the ingredients. It's important not to get complacent with dishes. We always aim to surprise our repeat customers from time to time with new dishes.
Do you have a personal mantra that drives the way you cook?
After having trained and worked closely with Chef Joël Robuchon for 23 years, I adopted and appreciated his philosophy of respecting the basics. Often, simple dishes are the best if they are perfectly executed.
If you could cook for a high-profile personality, who would it be and what would you serve them?
I often had the chance to meet with many famous personalities, such as prime ministers, movie stars and sports personalities. I would generally ask them what their favourite dishes are, but also recommend my style of roast chicken, which is always very well-received.
Favourite place in town?
I spend all my work days in the Burj Al Arab kitchen, so during my day off, I don't want to be in a kitchen anymore! It's always interesting to visit competitors and know more about the market. I only arrived in Dubai a few months ago and have tried quite a few restaurants - from Lebanese to Greek - but I am yet to discover my favourite place.
Do you cook for yourself at home too?
I usually don't eat after work but, if I am hungry, my wife will prepare Cantonese fried rice for me.
You're asked to invent an unusual dish - what would it be?
Unusual isn't my style. I prefer creating amazing dishes from simple ingredients.
Who do you admire most in your field?
Chef Joël Robuchon. I know him very well. He modernised French cuisine in the '80s after a few visits to Japan, creating a new style of cuisine that became known worldwide. He had a vision and could adjust the dishes according to the taste and preference of his customers in different countries where his restaurants were located.
Favourite comfort food?
A well-baked baguette with some nice cheese can be wonderful.
One ingredient/dish you can't stand?
Papaya. I don't really like the taste.
If you could choose a last meal, what would you want it to be?
I'd say Cantonese fried rice topped with BBQ meat.
Favourite culinary destination?
Japan (especially Tokyo, Otaru and Kyoto). The local products are sublime and the way Japanese chefs execute them is respectful. You can find good food in the simplest restaurant everywhere in Japan.
Where can we find you, when not in the kitchen?
I have a lot of hobbies and interests. You can look for me at the tennis court, boxing circuits, at a pool table, yoga studio or swimming pool.
- Staff reporter

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