How does a self-taught chef end up at the Helm of an award-winning catering company? we chat to marta’s kitchen founder marta yanci ahead of the opening of Her brand new restaurant and organic garden in Jlt
Tell us about your new restaurant
it’s really more of a workshop than a restaurant, because it’s only open during the day, for lunch, and in the evening we rent out the space for events. Through my catering business, i realised that a lot of people in dubai find it hard to find the right venue, so that’s something we now provide.
How did you get started in the catering world?
When i moved to dubai in 2005, i was a lawyer specialising in european Union law, and i found it impossible to find work here. But i’ve always been passionate about cooking, so i started as a private chef and word of mouth spread, helping the catering business to grow. Today, i have nine chefs working with me and we can cater for up to 500 people. Some of our biggest events have included the opening of dubai Miracle gardens, and we’ve even cooked for a number of emirates airline ViP areas.
What can we expect from the food at Marta’s Workshop?
i wanted to keep it very fresh, very Mediterranean (i’m from San Sebastian in Spain). We have an organic garden where we grow a lot of our herbs and produce, as well as a lemon tree and an olive tree. The menu at Marta’s Workshop will change regularly, depending on the season, the events we’ve been catering and what we feel like cooking.
Where do you get your inspiration?
Because i’m not a trained chef, i find inspiration everywhere – the books i read, the places i travel. My favourite thing is to visit a new city and find a chef who will take me to a local market and show me how they cook. When you go to a market, you really understand the spirit of a place.
Where do you shop in Dubai?
for organic produce, i go to the greenheart organic farmer’s market in Business Bay. for regular, everyday groceries, i think Carrefour does great meat and fish.
How do you encourage your kids to eat healthily?
i never force them to eat anything they don’t like, but i always encourage them to try new things at least once. Children need to be exposed to a variety of cuisines, and to cooking itself. They need to be able to touch the ingredients, to taste them, to smell them, to stick their finger in the dough or taste a veggie that you’re peeling. That’s what will get them interested. My son helps me chop carrots in the kitchen. Marta’s Workshop is set to open in Swiss Tower in JLT Cluster Y later this year. For more information, visit facebook.com/ martaskitchendubai