Food lovers show their appetite for Taste of Abu Dhabi

It’s not all about the flavours – for visitors to Taste of Abu Dhabi it is as much about the entertainment as it is about the food.

The first night of Taste of Abu Dhabi attracted large crowds to the Du Arena at Yas Island. Delores Johnson / The National
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ABU DHABI // Chefs and food lovers poured into Taste of Abu Dhabi with an appetite to sample the wares at the growing culinary showcase hosted by the nation’s capital.

The event, which drew thousands of food lovers to stalls set up by restaurants from around Abu Dhabi at the du Arena, runs until Saturday.

Ranging from Chinese dim sum to local Arabic food and burgers, Taste of Abu Dhabi attracted expat couple Maureen and Mark Quayle for both the food on offer and the events.

“Of course, the food is great but I’m really excited to see the Jersey Boys live for the first time,” said Mr Quayle, who works for Farmer Services Centre.

His wife said: “The events will be great but really the food is astonishing. We came quite hungry but it’s really great that chefs came to talk us about their restaurants and food.”

The couple said they would try to sample several cuisines and hoped that by pacing themselves, they would get a chance to experience treats from all the restaurants.

However, a stall they were particularly eager to try was that of the Angar restaurant.

“This is a great opportunity for all chefs and food lovers to show what skills they have, where to eat and to just enjoy food,” said chef Pradeep Kumar, of Angar.

The chef said part of the enjoyment of the event for him was that he got a chance to meet people and to cook his specialities for them, as well as sample other food.

“Really this is a time for people to recognise that Abu Dhabi is growing into a culinary hub; it will soon be like New York, London, Tokyo, for the food and the amount of talent here,” said Mr Kumar.

He said Taste of Abu Dhabi would continue to grow and that another advantage was it allowed chefs, who are usually hidden from view in the kitchen, to interact with customers.

“For me, I am lucky because I have an open kitchen, so we can talk to the customers, but for other chefs I wish they get it too; it is part of the pleasure of the industry, to bring enjoyment to people,” he said.

Hurra Al Hameli came with four friends and said visiting Taste of Abu Dhabi was as much for fun as it was an educational experience.

“I want to be a chef, I love food. At least here it’s something different and we get to sample restaurants that we would have otherwise not been interested in trying,” said Ms Al Hameli, who works for Abu Dhabi Investment Authority.

Friend Aisha Al Ghafli said: “She is always watching the Food Network, 24 hours, that’s all she does, so of course we have to come with her.”

Along with cooking classes and events, Taste of Abu Dhabi hosted a slew of culinary television personalities, including Food Network celebrity chef Jenny Morris.