Out Of this world Bri­tish

From bangers and mash to fish and chips, Cater­ing News Mid­dle East speaks to the lead­ing Bri­tish cui­sine restau­rants in Dubai on what’s hot on the English plate.

CateringNews Middle East - - Out Of This World -

HOW POP­U­LAR IS BRI­TISH CUI­SINE IN DUBAI?

Daniel Hillier – Ex­ec­u­tive chef, Dhow & An­chor: Bri­tish cui­sine is ex­tremely pop­u­lar in the Mid­dle East due to the large ex­pat com­mu­nity, as well as Bri­tish tourists trav­el­ling to the UAE. Not only does the United King­dom boast a host of high pro­file chefs that are recog­nised glob­ally in the culi­nary world, but Lon­don is also known for be­ing one of the most in­flu­en­tial cities in the world when it comes to food. Martin Cahill – Ex­ec­u­tive chef, Dukes Dubai: Here in the UAE, cus­tomers re­ally do love va­ri­ety when it comes to din­ing op­tions. One day they will eat In­dian, the next Chi­nese, the fol­low­ing Ital­ian and so on. They are very much spoilt for choice. How­ever, with the num­ber of Bri­tish ex­pats liv­ing and work­ing in the re­gion tra­di­tional dishes from the UK will al­ways stand the test of time. We also find that a large num­ber of tourists love to sam­ple and in­dulge in clas­sic Bri­tish dishes. Tom Ham­mond – Head chef, Re­form So­cial & Grill: With the high num­ber of Bri­tish ex­pats liv­ing in Dubai, Bri­tish cui­sine un­der­pins the food scene. It is the food that makes peo­ple from the UK feel at home and give them a slice of nos­tal­gia, es­pe­cially the fa­mous Bri­tish roast or full English break­fast.

HAVE YOU ADAPTED BRI­TISH CUI­SINE TO SUIT LO­CAL TASTES? If SO – HOW?

Daniel Hillier: At Dhow and An­chor (D&A) we try to stay as close to Bri­tish cui­sine as pos­si­ble, cus­tomers visit our restau­rant be­cause they know they’re get­ting sim­ple Bri­tish dishes that they know, love and en­joy. Martin Cahill: At Dukes Dubai we have al­ways wanted to stay true to our Bri­tish roots and this has be­come an im­por­tant sell­ing point for us. Com­bin­ing au­then­tic dishes with mod­ern pre­sen­ta­tion and train­ing the team to keep the con­sis­tency will al­ways be one of my fo­cuses. Tom Ham­mond: I don’t think you need to, Bri­tish food is quite homely and the flavours are not too wacky or out there for peo­ple to un­der­stand, some­times this makes it harder though, the sim­pler the dish the eas­ier it is to get it wrong so it’s all about prepa­ra­tion and mak­ing sure each el­e­ment is cooked well.

WHAT ARE THE KEY TRENDS EMERG­ING IN BRI­TISH CUI­SINE?

Daniel Hillier: The fine din­ing scene is slow­ing down and con­sumers are look­ing for a more ca­sual and re­laxed din­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, not just in this re­gion, but glob­ally. We’re see­ing more and more restau­rants grow­ing their own pro­duce which I think will con­tinue to be a key fo­cus, as well as the health move­ment which is huge. Martin Cahill: Ca­sual din­ing con­cepts are hugely pop­u­lar in Dubai, and I be­lieve they will con­tinue to be so. Dubai is cur­rently at­tract­ing renowned chefs from all over the world as well as en­cour­ag­ing young tal­ent to cre­ate and in­tro­duce new food trends in the re­gion. The emer­gence of more Bri­tish chefs in the UAE is lead­ing to an in­crease in aware­ness of del­i­ca­cies from the UK. Tom Ham­mond: I think veg­e­tar­ian and ve­gan is be­com­ing a trend, es­pe­cially in Lon­don this is a real hot area of growth, when we have looked at our new menu launch com­ing soon we have added ex­tra dishes as peo­ple are de­mand­ing for it.

WHERE do YOU SOURCE PRO­DUCE FOR YOUR MENU AND WHAT ARE THE CHAL­LENGES?

Daniel Hillier: It is im­por­tant to us that we em­brace lo­cal sup­pli­ers and pro­duce where we can. How­ever, be­ing a Bri­tish restau­rant means we do have to im­port some of our pro­duce from the UK to of­fer our guests a truly au­then­tic ex­pe­ri­ence. Fruit and veg­eta­bles are quite chal­leng­ing, es­pe­cially as we strive for the high­est qual­ity in both flavour and fresh­ness of the pro­duce. Just re­cently, we have ac­tu­ally part­nered with a farm in Oman to help pro­vide the chefs with the best pos­si­ble lo­cal in­gre­di­ents. Martin Cahill: We use a mix­ture of both lo­cal and im­ported food. When our menu specif­i­cally men­tions Dover sole, At­lantic cod or Ir­ish beef for ex­am­ple, then clearly we have to im­port. How­ever, we do cul­ti­vate our own herbs, source our veg­eta­bles lo­cally and squeeze our own juices in-house. Tak­ing these steps goes a long way to help­ing both the en­vi­ron­ment and the lo­cal econ­omy. Im­ported items with a short shelf life are the most chal­leng­ing to source. Dis­trib­u­tors re­quire a three-day lead time which means we al­ways need to plan well in ad­vance when plac­ing these or­ders. In­ci­den­tally, I would love to see the im­port re­stric­tions on Bri­tish beef lifted. Tom Ham­mond: We use our trusted re­la­tion­ships to work with a few key sup­pli­ers to make sure they un­der­stand what we need and the qual­ity we ex­pect. It is eas­ier to do this so we can be picky about prove­nance of our menu. I don’t think it is so much pro­duce that is the chal­lenge, but great pro­duce at a sen­si­ble price so we don’t have to charge the world for a great dish us­ing the very best pro­duce that back in the UK we could buy off the lo­cal farm for a frac­tion of the price.

WHAT IS THE FU­TURE FOR BRI­TISH CUI­SINE IN THE RE­GION?

Daniel Hillier: I be­lieve places like D&A will have to con­tin­u­ously look at new and in­ter­est­ing ways to keep cus­tomers com­ing back, as the com­pe­ti­tion is fierce and is con­tin­ues to grow. It is up to us as a restau­rant to keep evolv­ing with the de­mands and needs of our cus­tomers and con­tinue to of­fer guests an hon­est and mem­o­rable ex­pe­ri­ence. Martin Cahill: With a con­stant in­flux of ex­pats and tourists from the UK and an in­creas­ing num­ber of young Bri­tish chefs mov­ing out here for work I am con­fi­dent that the fu­ture will be bright for Bri­tish cui­sine. How­ever, ir­re­spec­tive of what cui­sine is on the menu, cus­tomers will al­ways vote with their feet, returning to the most con­sis­tent, lively es­tab­lish­ments time and time again. It is down to us to en­sure that our cus­tomers re­ceive a warm wel­come, high qual­ity food, a con­vivial at­mos­phere and un­beat­able value. Tom Ham­mond: When you talk about nos­tal­gia and mem­o­ries peo­ple of­ten come back to it as a safety net, es­pe­cially in times when econ­omy is hard and money is tight. For me it is about keep­ing the prin­ci­ples of good hon­est Bri­tish food that peo­ple recog­nise and res­onate with us. Guests will al­ways know that there will be choice in Dubai with the num­ber of restau­rants open­ing, but home is where the heart is and that is what we see Re­form So­cial & Grill as, your lo­cal, the place you know and al­ways go back to.

WHAT IS YOUR HERO DISH?

Daniel Hillier: It has to be the Corn-fed chicken and mush­room pie with charred leeks and raisins. This dish em­braces the D&A phi­los­o­phy, tak­ing Bri­tish cui­sine and putting our own unique twist on them. Martin Cahill: Bri­tish dishes tend to dif­fer by sea­son, as does the avail­abil­ity of pro­duce - so what may be a firm favourite in win­ter, may not be so pop­u­lar in sum­mer. Food types and trends are con­tin­u­ously evolv­ing so this also makes it dif­fi­cult to la­bel one dish. We al­ways take on board feed­back from our guests and work to make ev­ery dish a hero. Tom Ham­mond: Our mixed roast is epic, we have a choice of meats and serve it with duck fat roast pota­toes, all the trim­mings such as car­rot and swede mash, red cab­bage and green beans, two York­shire Pud­dings and lots of gravy.

Daniel Hillier – Ex­ec­u­tive chef, Dhow & An­chor

Martin Cahill – Ex­ec­u­tive chef, Dukes Dubai

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