Food festival to feature world's best

Between them, they claim a clutch of Michelin stars and the admiration of bon vivants everywhere.

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DUBAI // Between them, they claim a clutch of Michelin stars and the admiration of bon vivants everywhere. And next month, some of the world's top chefs will bring their culinary flair to Dubai. Michel Roux, Jean-Christophe Novelli and James Martin will be sharing their cooking secrets at Jumeirah Festival of Taste, a biennial festival celebrating the city's emergence as a centre of fine cuisine. They will be joined at the five-day festival by fellow chefs Ainsley Harriott, Brian Turner, Cyrus Todiwala and Kerry Heffernan. All seven will share cooking tips and host dinners at venues across the city that are open to the public. Four of them will also serve gourmet treats at intimate gatherings aboard yachts. Marco Nijhof, senior vice president of the Jumeirah Group, the Dubai-based luxury hotel company and a member of Dubai Holding, said yesterday: "Dubai is becoming an international culinary centre and is already bringing world-famous chefs to the country. As a destination, it is becoming famous when it comes to food and especially international cuisine." The festival "will give members of the public a chance to interact with some of the most famous chefs in the world", he said. Roux, who holds three Michelin stars, described the event as "unique for the high calibre of chefs who take part", adding: "To be able to do this in Dubai, one of the best gastronomic cities in the world, makes this very special." Martin, who attended the inaugural festival in 2006, said: "I am so happy to be a part of the festival once again. The last one was an amazing event and this one is set to surpass even that. The quality of the chefs, food and venues make it one of the best food events on the world calendar." The festival is scheduled to start on Nov 9 with the seven chefs disembarking from an abra at Madinat Jumeirah and mingling with guests during a reception, before taking part in a "cook-off" in Al Qasr restaurant. Each of the chefs will set up a cooking station and serve his signature dish, in between signing cookbooks and sharing cookery tips. The next night Martin, a runner-up in Strictly Come Dancing, the British TV dance contest, will show off his fancy footwork and flamboyant cooking at an event called Rhythm and Basil in the Souq Madinat Jumeirah. Dinner guests will be invited to pay Dh650 to sample his fare - or an extra Dh3,000 to sit at a table with either Roux, Novelli, Turner or Todiwala. The hottest ticket in town has been billed as Bon Voyage and Bon Appetit - a day on one of four luxury yachts, each carrying 15 passengers with either Novelli, Roux, Turner or Todiwala cooking lunch on board. Heffernan, a leading US chef, will champion the new American cuisine in a four-course meal in the Emirates Towers. On Tuesday Nov 11, Martin will host an afternoon tea in the Burj al Arab, while Roux will invite diners into his kitchen in Vu's in the Emirates Towers before cooking a five-course banquet. Harriott will perform a cookery show in the Emirates Academy chefs' school. A gourmet gala the following evening will see each of the chefs prepare a course at the Burj al Arab, which will be reproduced for all 180 diners by a Jumeirah team of chefs. On Nov 13, the chefs will arrive at Bab al Shams in the desert on camels and will prepare a feast before a fireworks display brings the extravaganza to a close. Jumeirah officials admitted that some key names were missing from their line-up, such as Gordon Ramsay, who runs Verre in Hilton Dubai Creek hotel, and Gary Rhodes, who took part in the first festival and has since opened his Mezzanine restaurant in the Grosvenor House hotel. Mr Elsener said he did not believe the high cost of some events would put off diners. "Our hotel restaurants are similarly priced and are very well occupied," he said. Tickets for the various events are priced between Dh290 (US$79) and Dh3,650 and are available from www.festivaloftaste.com or by calling 04 301 7781. tyaqoob@thenational.ae