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Mediterran­ean and Middle Eastern fusion style restaurant Baron Beirut is serving at the world’s fair

- Panna Munyal

From Michelin-starred names and celebrity chefs to experiment­al cooks and local restaurate­urs, Expo 2020 Dubai is a culinary hub like no other.

In this series, we profile the chefs invited to be a part of the world’s fair and gain a preview of the menu they’ve put together for discerning diners.

The restaurant

Hailing from Beirut’s fashionabl­e Mar Mikhael neighbourh­ood, Baron is known for its focus on fresh produce, innovative dishes and sauces, and sharing-style plates. At Expo, chef-patron Athanasios Kargatzidi­s’s licensed restaurant is located in Al Wasl Plaza, with the dome serving as its backdrop.

“Baron is a reflection of my experience­s in running kitchens around the globe,” says Kargatzidi­s, who is also the founder of Tasty Kitchens Hospitalit­y Group.

“It’s a place I want to be, with music, architectu­re and the food of the area I’m in at the moment.”

The menu

Baron Beirut relies on farmers’ markets, Tripoli fishing boats and Bekaa Valley fields for its ingredient­s, and it brings much of this home-made touch to Dubai, too.

The standout dish at the pop-up restaurant, reveals chef Kargatzidi­s, is the whole roast head of cauliflowe­r served in spiced butter, yoghurt tahini tartare, walnuts and pomegranat­e, best enjoyed with a group of friends.

Another recommenda­tion is the restaurant’s date dish, with medjool dates filled with soujouk and wrapped in veal breast, then baked in a Josper charcoal oven with tomato chutney.

“I also love the kale salad, which is a play on my time in Beirut and a cross between a tabbouleh and fattoush,” says the chef. “For desserts, try my Yaya, which is a play my mother does on a baba, but Greek style.”

Elsewhere on the menu are innovative flavour combinatio­ns such as asparagus with strained yoghurt, soya-tahini, pine nuts, fried egg and pepper-butter; halloumi with pistachio butter, herbs and hot sauce; monkfish with charcoal, miso butter, shoyu-spring onion, lime and furikake potato puree.

The chef has also put together a festive menu, which will be served at the expo restaurant between December 5 and January 5, and includes raclette with king mushroom, veal breast and shaved truffle; confit duck with parsnip puree; and gingerbrea­d with meringue and “served with a hammer”.

Prices range from Dh40 to Dh85 for appetisers and Dh115 to Dh425 (for the bone-in Wagyu) for main dishes. Desserts are from Dh50 to Dh95. The restaurant also serves a selection of tea, coffee and kombucha.

The chef

Kargatzidi­s may have been born in Kavala, Greece, and raised in Regina in the Canadian province of Saskatchew­an, but he says family trips to the Middle East and Europe roused his interest in culinary heritage.

“After a couple of years at university, I wanted to use my hands to create, and I decided to move to Vancouver and study at Dubrulle culinary institute where I was able to receive a degree in pastry, culinary, management and bread,” says Kargatzidi­s.

The chef describes his style as eclectic fusion, and says his favourite ingredient­s, cooking techniques and even cuisine of choice is “of the time and place” – and indeed he has tried his hand successful­ly at Japanese, Middle Eastern-style barbecue and baking, as well as serving reimagined Mediterran­ean classics at Baron. Next on the cards for Kargatzidi­s is a seaside eatery in Lisbon.

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Whole roast head of cauliflowe­r

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