Jean-Georges Vongerichten, left, at his restaurant in the Four Seasons Resort Dubai at Jumeirah Beach with executive chef Colin Clague. Victor Besa for The National
Jean-Georges Vongerichten, left, at his restaurant in the Four Seasons Resort Dubai at Jumeirah Beach with executive chef Colin Clague. Victor Besa for The National

Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten on opening two restaurants in Dubai



Jean-Georges Vongerichten opens his two first restaurants in the Middle East today in the Four Seasons Resort Dubai at Jumeirah Beach, bringing one of the most celebrated names in gastronomy to the UAE.

“I like to go places where I’m inspired,” says the 58-year-old chef, who has earned a prestigious three Michelin-star rating at his restaurant Jean-Georges in New York. “Dubai is very inspiring. So far, I’ve been involved with every square inch of the space, building it and the ­menus.”

Though they’re both under the same roof, and connected by a massive, marble-top bar, the fine dining JG Dining Room and the more casual JG Kitchen are two completely separate restaurants, from the menus to the head chefs. “They will have totally different atmospheres,” says Vongerichten, who is in Dubai for the launch. “It will be a sharing menu at JG Kitchen, while JG Dining Room will be a similar concept to Jean-Georges in New York.” His namesake restaurant in New York is Vongerichten’s iconic three Michelin-starred restaurant, for which he’s so well known.

Vongerichten has put the best of his signature flavours from New York on the menus. JG Kitchen includes caramelised lamb chops, crackling beef short ribs, a handful of pizzas (try the lobster and mozzarella pizza with lemon zest and black pepper), roasted sea bass with a shiitake-yuzu vinaigrette and a cheeseburger with miso-yuzu dressing and yuzu pickles. At JG Dining Room, you’ll find many of the dishes he’s famous for: toasted egg yolk with caviar, risotto with peekytoe crab, nori and sudachi (a Japanese citrus fruit); lobster tartine with lemon grass and fenugreek broth; and diver scallops with caramelised cauliflower and a caper and raisin ­emulsion.

JG Dining Room and JG Kitchen are Vongerichten’s 29th and 30th restaurant across the globe; he has 11 restaurants in New York City alone. He also has restaurants in Miami, Las Vegas, Chicago, the Bahamas, Shanghai, Paris, St Barths, Tokyo and Mexico.

“What makes a city so exciting is when you have a melting pot,” explains Vongerichten. “People in Dubai come from everywhere. There are so many flavours coming together. You really get the best of everything here. It’s pretty amazing. It’s better than New York, because New York has the best and worst of everything. I feel like here, you just have the best of everything.”

Growing up in Alsace, France, Vongerichten did not have his heart set on being a chef. In fact, the only reason Vongerichten says he ended up cooking at all was because he was a terrible student. His parents owned a coal business and, as the oldest boy, Vongerichten was expected to take over the business.

“When I was 16, I didn’t know what to do with myself,” he says. “My parents put me in engineering school. I hated every minute of it. I was the worst student. I hated it. It was my way of rebelling. They pulled me out of school and my parents said: ‘What are we going to do with him? He’s a good-for-nothing.’”

Feeling sorry for him, his parents took him out to dinner on his birthday. It was the first time Vongerichten had stepped inside the three Michelin-starred restaurant Auberge de l’ill in ­Illhaeusern in France.

“I couldn’t believe you could make a living out of food. Watching the ballet of the waiters, I was like: ‘Whoa. What is this? This is what I want to do.’ The silverware, the tablecloths, the candles, the menus – I knew this was for me.”

In a chance conversation, Vongerichten’s father told the chef his son was a ‘good-for-nothing’. The chef said: “Send him to the kitchen. We’re looking for an apprentice.” One week later, Vongerichten started his first job at the restaurant, prepping ingredients, plucking chickens and learning all he could from head chef Paul Haeberlin.

Vongerichten ended up working in four different three-Michelin-starred restaurants in those early years. At the age of 23, he moved to Bangkok to be chef de cuisine in a restaurant at the Oriental Hotel. It was there he developed his love for the exotic Asian flavours that would define his unique take on French cuisine.

Vongerichten has evolved in his 42 years as a chef and says he’s still learning.

“Today, I take all the superfluous away and I go only with the essential. Nothing more than three ingredients on a plate. There’s only so much you can taste. That’s not counting the spices of course.

"For me, the role of the chef is to reinvent ingredients. By mixing up spices and herbs, you can really make it ­different.”

Though New York is his home, Vongerichten remains heavily involved with each of his restaurants; Dubai will be no different. When asked why he thinks he’s been so successful, Vongerichten says: “I’m an entertainer. In the restaurant business, you’re a performer. When people come to see you in your restaurant, you have to perform. I think I give people what they want.”

He shows no signs of slowing down and is opening another restaurant – a vegan eatery called ABC V – in New York later this year.

“This is my life,” he says. “I still wake up in the morning and I love it. I run to work. Every day is a different day. It’s an amazing business.”

JG Kitchen and JG Dining Room open today; they will be open for dinner from 7pm to midnight throughout Ramadan. JG Kitchen will begin lunch service later in the year. For reservations, call 04 343 6118

sjohnson@thenational.ae

Plan to boost public schools

A major shake-up of government-run schools was rolled out across the country in 2017. Known as the Emirati School Model, it placed more emphasis on maths and science while also adding practical skills to the curriculum.

It was accompanied by the promise of a Dh5 billion investment, over six years, to pay for state-of-the-art infrastructure improvements.

Aspects of the school model will be extended to international private schools, the education minister has previously suggested.

Recent developments have also included the introduction of moral education - which public and private schools both must teach - along with reform of the exams system and tougher teacher licensing requirements.

Our family matters legal consultant

Name: Hassan Mohsen Elhais

Position: legal consultant with Al Rowaad Advocates and Legal Consultants.

Paltan

Producer: JP Films, Zee Studios
Director: JP Dutta
Cast: Jackie Shroff, Sonu Sood, Arjun Rampal, Siddhanth Kapoor, Luv Sinha and Harshvardhan Rane
Rating: 2/5

THE SPECS

Engine: 3.6-litre V6

Transmission: nine-speed automatic

Power: 310hp

Torque: 366Nm

Price: Dh200,000

EMIRATES'S REVISED A350 DEPLOYMENT SCHEDULE

Edinburgh: November 4 (unchanged)

Bahrain: November 15 (from September 15); second daily service from January 1

Kuwait: November 15 (from September 16)

Mumbai: January 1 (from October 27)

Ahmedabad: January 1 (from October 27)

Colombo: January 2 (from January 1)

Muscat: March 1 (from December 1)

Lyon: March 1 (from December 1)

Bologna: March 1 (from December 1)

Source: Emirates

The specs

Engine: 3.8-litre, twin-turbo V8

Transmission: eight-speed automatic

Power: 582bhp

Torque: 730Nm

Price: Dh649,000

On sale: now 

The biog

From: Ras Al Khaimah

Age: 50

Profession: Electronic engineer, worked with Etisalat for the past 20 years

Hobbies: 'Anything that involves exploration, hunting, fishing, mountaineering, the sea, hiking, scuba diving, and adventure sports'

Favourite quote: 'Life is so simple, enjoy it'

Final round

25 under -  Antoine Rozner (FRA)

23 - Francesco Laporta (ITA), Mike Lorenzo-Vera (FRA), Andy Sullivan (ENG), Matt Wallace (ENG)

21 - Grant Forrest (SCO)

20 - Ross Fisher (ENG)

19 - Steven Brown (ENG), Joakim Lagergren (SWE), Niklas Lemke (SWE), Marc Warren (SCO), Bernd Wiesberger (AUT)

If you go...

Fly from Dubai or Abu Dhabi to Chiang Mai in Thailand, via Bangkok, before taking a five-hour bus ride across the Laos border to Huay Xai. The land border crossing at Huay Xai is a well-trodden route, meaning entry is swift, though travellers should be aware of visa requirements for both countries.

Flights from Dubai start at Dh4,000 return with Emirates, while Etihad flights from Abu Dhabi start at Dh2,000. Local buses can be booked in Chiang Mai from around Dh50

COMPANY PROFILE

Name: SmartCrowd
Started: 2018
Founder: Siddiq Farid and Musfique Ahmed
Based: Dubai
Sector: FinTech / PropTech
Initial investment: $650,000
Current number of staff: 35
Investment stage: Series A
Investors: Various institutional investors and notable angel investors (500 MENA, Shurooq, Mada, Seedstar, Tricap)

Tips for taking the metro

- set out well ahead of time

- make sure you have at least Dh15 on you Nol card, as there could be big queues for top-up machines

- enter the right cabin. The train may be too busy to move between carriages once you're on

- don't carry too much luggage and tuck it under a seat to make room for fellow passengers

UAE Team Emirates

Valerio Conti (ITA)
Alessandro Covi (ITA)
Joe Dombrowski (USA)
Davide Formolo (ITA)
Fernando Gaviria (COL)
Sebastian Molano (COL)
Maximiliano Richeze (ARG)
Diego Ulissi (ITAS)

The line up

Friday: Giggs, Sho Madjozi and Masego  

Saturday: Nas, Lion Bbae, Roxanne Shante and DaniLeigh  

Sole DXB runs from December 6 to 8 at Dubai Design District. Weekend pass is Dh295 while a one day pass is Dh195. Tickets are available from www.soledxb.com

Sarfira

Director: Sudha Kongara Prasad

Starring: Akshay Kumar, Radhika Madan, Paresh Rawal

Rating: 2/5

Company profile

Company name: Fasset
Started: 2019
Founders: Mohammad Raafi Hossain, Daniel Ahmed
Based: Dubai
Sector: FinTech
Initial investment: $2.45 million
Current number of staff: 86
Investment stage: Pre-series B
Investors: Investcorp, Liberty City Ventures, Fatima Gobi Ventures, Primal Capital, Wealthwell Ventures, FHS Capital, VN2 Capital, local family offices

Company profile

Company name: Hakbah
Started: 2018
Founder: Naif AbuSaida
Based: Saudi Arabia
Sector: FinTech
Current number of staff: 22
Initial investment: $200,000
Investment stage: pre-Series A
Investors: Global Ventures and Aditum Investment Management

The Library: A Catalogue of Wonders
Stuart Kells, Counterpoint Press

Indoor cricket in a nutshell

Indoor Cricket World Cup - Sep 16-20, Insportz, Dubai

16 Indoor cricket matches are 16 overs per side

8 There are eight players per team

9 There have been nine Indoor Cricket World Cups for men. Australia have won every one.

5 Five runs are deducted from the score when a wickets falls

4 Batsmen bat in pairs, facing four overs per partnership

Scoring In indoor cricket, runs are scored by way of both physical and bonus runs. Physical runs are scored by both batsmen completing a run from one crease to the other. Bonus runs are scored when the ball hits a net in different zones, but only when at least one physical run is score.

Zones

A Front net, behind the striker and wicketkeeper: 0 runs

B Side nets, between the striker and halfway down the pitch: 1 run

C Side nets between halfway and the bowlers end: 2 runs

D Back net: 4 runs on the bounce, 6 runs on the full

COPA DEL REY

Semi-final, first leg

Barcelona 1 (Malcom 57')
Real Madrid (Vazquez 6')

Second leg, February 27

Herc's Adventures

Developer: Big Ape Productions
Publisher: LucasArts
Console: PlayStation 1 & 5, Sega Saturn
Rating: 4/5

PROFILE OF HALAN

Started: November 2017

Founders: Mounir Nakhla, Ahmed Mohsen and Mohamed Aboulnaga

Based: Cairo, Egypt

Sector: transport and logistics

Size: 150+ employees

Investment: approximately $8 million

Investors include: Singapore’s Battery Road Digital Holdings, Egypt’s Algebra Ventures, Uber co-founder and former CTO Oscar Salazar

KEY DATES IN AMAZON'S HISTORY

July 5, 1994: Jeff Bezos founds Cadabra Inc, which would later be renamed to Amazon.com, because his lawyer misheard the name as 'cadaver'. In its earliest days, the bookstore operated out of a rented garage in Bellevue, Washington

July 16, 1995: Amazon formally opens as an online bookseller. Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies: Computer Models of the Fundamental Mechanisms of Thought becomes the first item sold on Amazon

1997: Amazon goes public at $18 a share, which has grown about 1,000 per cent at present. Its highest closing price was $197.85 on June 27, 2024

1998: Amazon acquires IMDb, its first major acquisition. It also starts selling CDs and DVDs

2000: Amazon Marketplace opens, allowing people to sell items on the website

2002: Amazon forms what would become Amazon Web Services, opening the Amazon.com platform to all developers. The cloud unit would follow in 2006

2003: Amazon turns in an annual profit of $75 million, the first time it ended a year in the black

2005: Amazon Prime is introduced, its first-ever subscription service that offered US customers free two-day shipping for $79 a year

2006: Amazon Unbox is unveiled, the company's video service that would later morph into Amazon Instant Video and, ultimately, Amazon Video

2007: Amazon's first hardware product, the Kindle e-reader, is introduced; the Fire TV and Fire Phone would come in 2014. Grocery service Amazon Fresh is also started

2009: Amazon introduces Amazon Basics, its in-house label for a variety of products

2010: The foundations for Amazon Studios were laid. Its first original streaming content debuted in 2013

2011: The Amazon Appstore for Google's Android is launched. It is still unavailable on Apple's iOS

2014: The Amazon Echo is launched, a speaker that acts as a personal digital assistant powered by Alexa

2017: Amazon acquires Whole Foods for $13.7 billion, its biggest acquisition

2018: Amazon's market cap briefly crosses the $1 trillion mark, making it, at the time, only the third company to achieve that milestone

Drivers’ championship standings after Singapore:

1. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes - 263
2. Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari - 235
3. Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes - 212
4. Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull - 162
5. Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari - 138
6. Sergio Perez, Force India - 68

TEACHERS' PAY - WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Pay varies significantly depending on the school, its rating and the curriculum. Here's a rough guide as of January 2021:

- top end schools tend to pay Dh16,000-17,000 a month - plus a monthly housing allowance of up to Dh6,000. These tend to be British curriculum schools rated 'outstanding' or 'very good', followed by American schools

- average salary across curriculums and skill levels is about Dh10,000, recruiters say

- it is becoming more common for schools to provide accommodation, sometimes in an apartment block with other teachers, rather than hand teachers a cash housing allowance

- some strong performing schools have cut back on salaries since the pandemic began, sometimes offering Dh16,000 including the housing allowance, which reflects the slump in rental costs, and sheer demand for jobs

- maths and science teachers are most in demand and some schools will pay up to Dh3,000 more than other teachers in recognition of their technical skills

- at the other end of the market, teachers in some Indian schools, where fees are lower and competition among applicants is intense, can be paid as low as Dh3,000 per month

- in Indian schools, it has also become common for teachers to share residential accommodation, living in a block with colleagues


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