DUBAI: From the world’s first unlicensed restaurant to be awarded a Michelin star to one of the rare Indian eateries to get a nod, Dubai is now home to a host of Michelin-starred dining spots.
Arab News caught up with a number of the restaurants’ chefs to find out how they plan to celebrate and whether this means the heat in the kitchen is about to get hotter.
The chefs of 11 Woodfire, Torno Subito, Tresind Studio, and Armani/Ristorante, which all gained one star, described how it felt to be internationally recognized after it was recently announced that 11 restaurants in Dubai received a Michelin star — nine places won one star, while two restaurants received two stars.
11 Woodfire’s chef Akmal Anuar
The restaurant, located in Jumeirah, is the first unlicensed eatery to win a Michelin Guide star.
Its chef Akmal Anuar described the achievement as “huge.”
He said: “For me being Muslim, and to achieve this and to be on stage with everybody else, proves that nothing is impossible. I feel overwhelmed. I am very, very happy.”
Anuar plans to celebrate the milestone with his team next week.
“We will shut down one day and buy a cake. We will sit down, have a motivational speech, and get ready for the new era. This (win) wasn’t just me; it was my team. They all worked very hard for it,” he added.
11 Woodfire offers dishes such as black Angus steak, jumbo prawns with brown butter, Japanese eggplant, and Chilean sea bass, while priding itself on being committed to zero waste and following sustainable practices.
Torno Subito’s chef Bernardo Paladini
Chef Bernardo Paladini’s intention with Torno Subito, located in the Palm Jumeirah, was “to have fun and to open an audacious Italian restaurant with great food, quality ingredients, and vibrancy.”
He said: “In all honesty, this completely caught us by surprise. We really did not expect it and it is a result of four years of hard work. I feel elated, excited, and proud. I still cannot believe it.”
The chef gave credit to his team and pointed out that the award was not just for him, but for the hardworking staff that helped him on a daily basis.
Being a Michelin-star restaurant will not make Paladini change the concept of his eatery, or the prices.
“We will stay true to the roots of Torno Subito and maintain the restaurant’s identity. Pressure is good and we are very conscious of what it means to have a Michelin star and will do everything to maintain it,” he added.
Paladini’s recommendation to diners is to try the restaurant’s tasting menu which includes all of its signature dishes such as cocktail di gamberi, rock lobster roll, and Japanese beef.
Being an internationally recognized cook, the chef’s top tip for amateur cooks was to experiment. “Everyone can cook good food, but when you are able to show emotion and passion in the food, this is what makes all the difference.”
Tresind Studio’s chef Himanshu Saini
Not many Indian restaurants have Michelin stars and that is what makes Nakheel Mall's Tresind Studio’s chef Himanshu Saini proud.
He said: “It feels surreal. Being among the few Indian restaurants in the world to have a star is a great feeling. We strive to break perceptions and showcase Indian food with a different perspective.”
The recognition has fueled up the chef and his team who now feel motivated to work harder. He wasted no time and immediately celebrated the award with his team after the Tuesday awards ceremony event at the Dubai Opera.
Talent may be important for chefs, but Saini pointed out that hard work beats it. “Work hard because that is the only way you can evolve as a chef,” he added.
He noted that the bar of expectation from his diners had now been raised.
“It is a good thing because it only motivates us and keeps us on our toes to keep evolving,” he said.
Tresind Studio has previously won the art of hospitality gong at the inaugural Middle East and North Africa’s 50 Best Restaurants 2022 awards by The World’s 50 Best Restaurants.
Armani/Ristorante’s chef Giovanni Papi
Armani/Ristorante restaurant is at Dubai’s Armani hotel.
The eatery’s chef Giovanni Papi said he feels “extremely proud and emotional as a Michelin star is a dream that each chef chases.
“We knew that Armani /Ristorante was invited for the Michelin guide revelation but (weren’t) sure about the outcome for our restaurant. But I feel confident that we are delivering the outstanding service and culinary experience at Armani/Ristorante all the time,” he told Arab News.
The restaurant, which dishes up modern Italian cooking in a luxurious atmosphere, is known for its signature dishes such as agnolotti del plin, a pasta typical of the Piedmont region of Italy, fish dish filetto di scorfano and agnello al mirto, a lamb dish.
If you plan to book a table at the newly crowned Michelin-starred restaurant, the chef suggests the signature chlorophyll risotto and Sicilian red prawns, along with the Armani/Ristorante La Sfera dessert.