Which world-class chefs will be cooking at Expo 2020 Dubai in January?

Expect plenty of innovative flavours, from experimental Indian by Prateek Sadhu to sustainable Nordic by Mikael Svensson

If your New Year’s resolution is to eat better, then how does a nine-course degustation menu from the world’s top chefs sound?

This January, five Michelin and “50 Best” international guest chefs will take over the Jubilee Gastronomy Chef’s Table at Expo 2020 Dubai as part of the premium dining series curated by award-winning cookbook author and publisher Flavel Monteiro.

Monteiro, who lives in Dubai, has enlisted some of the most famous names in the culinary world to put together one-off meals for 30 discerning guests at a custom-made site at Al Wasl Plaza, operations for which are overseen by Naim Maadad, founder and chief executive of Gates Hospitality.

The January line-up sets the tone for an incredible three months ahead.

Experimental Indian by Prateek Sadhu

Restaurant: Masque, Mumbai, Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants

Date: Thursday, January 6

Executive chef of Mumbai’s innovative Masque restaurant, Prateek Sadhu. Photo: Flavel Monteiro

Kicking off 2022 at Chef’s Table on Thursday is the executive chef of Mumbai’s innovative Masque restaurant, Prateek Sadhu, bringing experimental flair to the traditional flavours of India.

In 2021, Masque ranked number 32 on the list of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants and for Sadhu, who started cooking on his family farm aged 10, guest-starring at Expo is an incredible opportunity to bring modern Indian flavours to the world.

“Diners can expect an extension of the restaurant with a little added excitement thanks to ingredients we might not have been able to access here in Mumbai,” says Sandhu, who runs the Masque Lab, where he experiments with ingredients and techniques.

“The intention of the Lab was always to bring the results back to the dishes and diners at Expo might be in for one or two surprises,” he says. “Our spin on traditional Indian fermented chutneys and drinks, misos, vinegars and garums often make their way on to the menu.”

Sustainable Nordic by Mikael Svensson

Restaurant: Kontrast, Oslo, one Michelin star

Date: Tuesday, January 11

Mikael Svensson, head chef and owner of Oslo’s Michelin-starred Kontrast restaurant, is passionate about cooking sustainably, focusing on seasonal produce and foraged ingredients for his artistic Nordic dishes.

The Swedish chef’s plates are renowned for their contemporary interpretation of the cuisine, presented with panache.

Blue cheese and oxidised sunflower seeds by chef Mikael Svensson. Photo: Flavel Monteiro

“Some of the designs are very carefully planned and tested and some are just pure inspiration at the moment,” Svensson explains. “You gain experience through the years and learn different techniques that you then can easily apply to new dishes.”

During his visit to Expo 2020, which will be his first time in Dubai, Svensson’s menu will focus heavily on imported seafood from Norway.

“Seafood is currently in peak season, so we have tried to order in as much as we can,” he says. “We have a very busy schedule and a lot to deliver but I’m very excited to explore Dubai and try some local cuisine.”

Expressionist Italian by Valentino Cassanelli

Restaurant: Lux Lucis, Principe Forte dei Marmi, one Michelin star

Date: Tuesday, January 18

For keen traveller and theatre lover Valentino Cassanelli, visiting Expo is not only an opportunity to share the “free expression of Italian food”, but also to explore everything the UAE has to offer.

“I’ve been to Dubai many times and I’m looking forward to visiting Expo, as well as Abu Dhabi and Fujairah,” said the founder and head chef of Lux Lucis restaurant. “I love the Middle East and I plan to explore a lot more of it in the future.”

Pesce nero di fondale, piselli, lumachine e spugnole by chef Valentino Cassanelli. Photo: Lido Vannucchi

For the Italian chef, food is a celebration influenced by art and beauty, and diners at his Jubilee Gastronomy dinner can expect an eclectic menu.

“I try to represent my world through my food, often taking inspiration from live theatre and music,” he says.

“My cooking style is a fusion of my personal and professional experience, so there are many ingredients from around the world in my Expo menu, including some flavours of the Middle East through the spices we add to the black fish marinade.”

Indian with a twist by Jitin Joshi

Restaurant: Ex Gymkhana, London, one Michelin star

Date: Tuesday, January 25 and Wednesday, January 26

On Tuesday, January 25 a familiar face will reappear in Dubai to whip up his signature Indian fusion. Until recently, chef Jitin Joshi held the reins at London’s Michelin-starred Gymkhana restaurant, but eagle-eyed diners may recognise the former star chef of Armani/Amal, Atmosphere and Taj Dubai.

“It feels great to be back in the UAE and hospitality has bounced back in a strong way here,” says Joshi. “Expo 2020 has been a great success and gastronomically, a great reunion of chefs from around the world at Chef’s Table.”

Gulab jamun brioche pudding by chef Jitin Joshi. Photo: Flavel Monteiro

For Joshi, however, Expo is not the first memorable culinary experience he’s had in the UAE.

“I remember in 2013 when I was at Atmosphere and I created a special menu with the UAE’s biggest white truffle from Alba, weighing a whopping 778 grams,” he says, with a laugh. “Another time I was cooking for 250 people at the Taj Business Bay’s poolside and we had to frantically relocate indoors due to a rainstorm. It’s not something you expect in the middle of the desert.”

During his Expo stint, Joshi will be hosting a four-course lunch and a nine-course dinner on Tuesday, January 25, as well as an eight-hands dinner with three other local chefs on Wednesday, January 26.

And when he isn’t working, Joshi plans to reacquaint himself with his old stomping ground.

“After the events, I plan to say hello to a lot of industry colleagues and relive the old days in memories,” he says with a smile. “I have a table booked at Akmal Anuar’s newest restaurant, 11 Woodfire, and I cannot wait to dine there.”

Nose-to-tail Italian by Antonia Klugmann

Restaurant: L’Argine a Venco, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, one Michelin star, 50 Best Discovery

Date: Friday, January 28

For Antonia Klugmann, the sustainability-focused head chef and owner of L’Argine a Venco, Expo will be an opportunity to flex her waste-free cooking philosophy.

The Italian chef fell in love with cooking halfway through a law degree and swapped the rule books for recipes, cultivating a remarkable use of vegetables, which she now grows in the restaurant’s own garden or forages from the surrounding woods and fields.

A dish by Antonia Klugmann, who offers sustainable Italian dining. Photo: Mattia Mionetto

“I would like to serve a menu that truly represents my philosophy at Expo,” explains Klugmann. “I’ll cook a mix of local and Italian ingredients with my personal approach.

“As always, there will be a lot of vegetables and fresh herbs, cooked using simple recipes and made with only a few ingredients served with original accompaniments.

“I hope guests will experience a little bit of the magic that you can find in our little Italian countryside restaurant.”

For more information on the Chef’s Table dinners or to book a table, call 04 317 7120 or email book.jubilee@gatesdxb.com

See Covid-19 safety measures at Expo 2020 Dubai in pictures:

Updated: January 4th 2022, 9:33 AM