Recipes for success: Dubai’s Michelin-starred Trèsind Studio head chef talks simplicity, harmony

Recipes for success: Dubai’s Michelin-starred Trèsind Studio head chef talks simplicity, harmony
Trèsind Studio was awarded a Michelin star in the prestigious dining guide’s first Dubai edition earlier this year. (Supplied)
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Updated 02 September 2022

Recipes for success: Dubai’s Michelin-starred Trèsind Studio head chef talks simplicity, harmony

Recipes for success: Dubai’s Michelin-starred Trèsind Studio head chef talks simplicity, harmony

DUBAI: Things could have turned out very differently for acclaimed Indian chef Himanshu Saini, who runs the kitchen at Trèsind Studio in Palm Jumeirah’s Nakheel Mall. Right now, he’s one of the hottest properties in Dubai’s dining scene: Saini basically has free rein to create his own tasting menus for the 18-seat Indian fine-dining restaurant (he changes the menu up every four months) and has established it as one of the must-visit venues in the city. Trèsind Studio was awarded a Michelin star in the prestigious dining guide’s first Dubai edition earlier this year.

But he very nearly didn’t come to the Middle East at all. In 2014, the Delhi native was working as an executive chef in Mumbai when he was offered what seemed like a dream job in New York.

“I was looking forward to it. I’d had this offer from Dubai to open Trèsind, but New York is New York, so I’d decided I was going to go there,” Saini says. “But I was really struggling in America: I wasn’t happy with the team, I wasn’t happy with the concept of the restaurant, I wasn’t being given a free hand to work the way I wanted to work, so within a month I decided to come to Dubai and take the opportunity to launch Trèsind.”

He hasn’t really looked back since. Which is perhaps as well, because as Saini tells it, there has never been a Plan B for him.

“Cooking was something I always loved. I grew up in a big family, living in my grandparents’ house with about 50 people — extended family. So even though it was a home kitchen, it was run like a professional kitchen where everybody has an assigned job. Growing up in those surroundings, and in Delhi — which is a big foodie hub with lots of unique street food — I was always surrounded by food.

“In India, being a chef — 10 or 20 years back — wasn’t really a career your parents wanted you to pursue,” he continues. “Everybody in India wanted their children to become a doctor or an engineer, or a lawyer. But I wasn’t good at anything else. This career wasn’t really a choice so much as a necessity.”

Here, Saini discusses flavors, theater, and the importance of simplicity.

Q: What’s your top tip for amateur chefs?

A: When I cook, I try to maintain a harmony of flavors. I don’t shy away from using salt in desserts or something sweet in savory preparations. These are all mental blocks that cooks can have. A recipe is useful as a reference, but it’s always best to use your own palate. I always say to younger chefs that you should cook something you’d eat yourself a hundred times. If it’s tasty to you, then it’ll eventually be appreciated by others.

Is there a single ingredient that can instantly improve most dishes?

The generic answer would be salt. Like I said, I don’t shy away from using it in my desserts. But cooking isn’t about just one ingredient. And, for me, the humble ingredients in the kitchen are more important than any luxury ones: I don’t use expensive meat, I don’t use foie gras, or caviar — I’ll only use it if I can make better use of it than just serving it on top of a dish. The tomato is more important in my kitchen than truffle. The umami in the tomatoes is probably as good as the umami in the truffles; you just have to know how to respect that.

What’s your favorite cuisine?

I always look forward to Indian or Thai food the most. They’re two cuisines which are very flavorful and full of aroma.

What’s your favorite dish to cook?

My menu will sometimes have three or four broth preparations. It’s something I always look forward to. I find peace when I’m cooking broths. It’s so harmonious: You can have so many flavors. It’s delicate and needs a deft hand, but at the same time it’s full of aroma and flavorful. It’s something that a lot of people get wrong, but a good hearty soup or a good bouillon is something that’s one of my strengths. I get all the flavors in the liquid, but it’s still delicate and flavorful. I find peace in simple things: A few spoonfuls of broth can make my eyes light up.

When you go out, do you find yourself critiquing the food?

It depends. Sometimes I go out to eat because I want to see what other restaurants are doing. In that case, I try to pick restaurants that I look up to and my professional side kicks in. But it totally depends on my intentions. If the intention is just to relax with friends, then I don’t judge — I’m not thinking about how the sauce is seasoned, or how the pasta is cooked. My brain won’t work in the same way as it does if I’m going out to, say, Ossiano, when I want to know what thought process has gone into the dish, why certain combinations have been used, where the ingredients have been sourced from.

So you’re able to turn your chef’s brain off sometimes?

Yeah. When I’m having a good time with my friends, I keep my mouth shut.

What request or behavior from customers most frustrates you?

Since we’re a tasting-menu restaurant, the experience can take up to two hours. We do it that way because, for every preparation, the temperature is important, the way it’s being eaten is important… So I do get frustrated when people say, ‘Can you bring everything together?’ If it’s all served together, it’s not the experience we want to give. We want to be sure we’re serving the dishes at the right temperature, with the right texture. These small details make a big difference on your palate. A dish that has been kept on the table for more than two or three minutes, for me, is not as it should be.

At home, if you need to cook something quickly, what’s your go-to dish?

I’d probably make a spaghetti al olio. It’s my kind of dish: Super-easy, super-quick. My house is pure vegetarian — no meat, no eggs. My wife is pure vegetarian, so I don’t cook eggs at home, otherwise I would’ve said an omelet.

As a head chef, are you a disciplinarian?

No. I’m the opposite. In Trèsind Studio we have a maximum of 18 guests at one time, and we turn around two seatings every evening. All the guests face the open kitchen. For me it’s like a theater. I really enjoy working like that, I can see every guest and whether they’re liking it or not. In the kitchen, everybody’s doing their job and enjoying it. It’s very peaceful. It’s not a busy kitchen with loud noise. For me, it’s like meditation. You get that kind of vibe; everybody’s calm. Everybody knows what’s expected from them and I trust my team and I’m super-proud of them.


Art exhibition ‘Tales of Nostalgia’ debuts in Riyadh

Art exhibition ‘Tales of Nostalgia’ debuts in Riyadh
Updated 03 October 2022

Art exhibition ‘Tales of Nostalgia’ debuts in Riyadh

Art exhibition ‘Tales of Nostalgia’ debuts in Riyadh
  • Exhibition reflects upon notions of time and memory in an era of rapid change

RIYADH: The Misk Art Institute launched a new exhibition in Riyadh titled “Tales of Nostalgia” on Monday.

The exhibition showcases the works of 12 Saudi and international artists who reflect upon notions of time and memory, and nostalgia, exploring alternate narratives through emergent technologies.

Curated by Marnie Benney and Misk Art Institute assistant curator, Alia Ahmad Alsaud, it will be on display at the Prince Faisal bin Fahd Art Gallery until Jan. 15. 

“‘Tales of Nostalgia’ is both a reflection upon and a conversation about where we are, as a species, in our endless, intertwined relationship with time and technology,” the organizers said. 

Featuring immersive digital soundscapes, the exhibition aims to shed light on an increasingly technological and digitized world, particularly the increasing importance of artificial intelligence and machine learning techniques.

The exhibition will be accompanied by a series of talks, workshops, and opportunities to listen to and engage with participating artists over the course of several days.

 


Middle East Fashion Week set to return to Dubai this November

Middle East Fashion Week set to return to Dubai this November
Updated 03 October 2022

Middle East Fashion Week set to return to Dubai this November

Middle East Fashion Week set to return to Dubai this November

DUBAI: The second edition of Middle East Fashion Week (MEFW), organized by the Middle East Fashion Council (MEFC), is set to take place from Nov. 7-10 at The Agenda in Dubai Media City.

The event will also hold the second edition of the Middle East Sustainable Fashion Forum –  a panel of speakers leading discussions on environmentally responsible and financially viable ways to integrate sustainable practices into the design process and the supply chain.

Keeping this theme in mind, the choice of venue becomes more apparent. The Agenda’s vision is to become the world’s first carbon-negative performance venue. “The sound and lighting industry is historically very power hungry, and coupled with AC and facilities, traditionally a large CO2 footprint would be in place for an event such as this. The Agenda will be using the latest technology to reduce power consumption,” reads a description on the event's official website.

Guests attending the event will be able to see their individual carbon footprint for attending the shows and how it is offset.

Designer applications for Middle East Fashion Week are open until October 10, 2022. To apply, email [email protected]

 


Givenchy taps Gigi Hadid for Paris Fashion Week show

Givenchy taps Gigi Hadid for Paris Fashion Week show
Gigi Hadid hit the runway in an all-denim look. (AFP)
Updated 03 October 2022

Givenchy taps Gigi Hadid for Paris Fashion Week show

Givenchy taps Gigi Hadid for Paris Fashion Week show

DUBAI: Supermodel Gigi Hadid hit the outdoor runway at Givenchy’s latest show at Paris Fashion Week on Sunday.

The US Dutch Palestinian star showed off an all-denim look, featuring a button-down jacket along with a below-the-knee jean skirt with oversized pockets.

Gigi Hadid hit the runway in an all-denim look. (AFP)

Hadid walked the runway amid less than perfect weather as VIP guests, including US singer Olivia Rodrigo, survived torrential downpours only thanks to helpers clutching transparent umbrellas. But the show had to go on. For Matthew M. Williams, a designer who has garnered lukewarm reviews of late, this collection was a little like crunch time, The Associated Press reported.

For spring, the US designer moved his street aesthetic in a dressier direction — likely trying to bring himself to the safer ground of the age-old house’s traditional aesthetic.

An oversized tweed black bolero cut a creatively surreal silhouette atop a pencil-thin mini dress, twinned with Matrix-style shades. Elsewhere, features such as rouching on a silken top, or draping on a fluid skirt, resembled thick organic sinews or human ribs.

This felt like a positive, gently transgressive, direction for the house immortalized by Audrey Hepburn’s little black dress.

However, many of Williams’ design elements still felt out of place on the Paris runway, such as 90s low-slung cargo shorts that seemed unflattering, clashing with the black silken ruffled cuffs that dangled down.

Earlier at Paris Fashion Week, Hadid hit the runway at the Isabel Marant show, wearing the French label’s Spring-Summer 2023 collection. 

She strutted down the runway in an oversized cameo print jacket in neutral hues and was joined by her sister Bella, who showed off two looks. The first featured a white cut-out top embellished with silver studs, white pants, stilettos and a handbag. The second look was a black flowy mini dress with cut-out detailing across the chest.

The sisters also walked the catwalk for Italian brand Versace at Milan Fashion Week.

Donatella Versace’s collection conveyed female power in a way that only the label can.

“I have always loved a rebel,’’ Versace said in show notes. “A woman who is confidence, smart and a little bit of a diva (sic).”

The show conveyed a strong sense of female ritual as models traversed a runway lit by dark candles and lined with stained-glass windows with the Versace medusa head, before exiting through glass-enclosed spaces where bathrobe-clad men lounged on gilded chairs amid purple columns, underlining a shift in the power dynamic.

 


Why Egypt isn’t submitting any films for the 2023 Academy Awards

Why Egypt isn’t submitting any films for the 2023 Academy Awards
Updated 03 October 2022

Why Egypt isn’t submitting any films for the 2023 Academy Awards

Why Egypt isn’t submitting any films for the 2023 Academy Awards

CAIRO: Despite playing host to two of the Arab world’s most prestigious film festivals, as well as being famous for its storied film industry, Egypt has decided not to submit any titles for the Best International Feature Film category at the upcoming Academy Awards, with industry insiders telling Arab News the decision was a difficult one.

The members of the film selection committee, which falls under the Cinema Professionals Syndicate, decided to opt out of the running for the Oscars, which will be held on March 12, 2023. However, some critics did voice their support for a clutch of films.

Art critic Faiza Hindawi, a member of the committee, told Arab News that one film which generated huge buzz was Nadine Khan’s “Abu Saddam.” However, the film failed to make the cut due to strict regulations about its release date.

“‘Abu Saddam’ was not on the list of the four films closest to nomination due to its non-compliance with the conditions and regulations stipulated in the awards, including the date of the screening. One of the conditions is that the film was shown in the year 2022 and, unfortunately, ‘Abu Saddam’ was shown last year,” Hindawi explained.

“We are bound by conditions that must be met in the works that are nominated, procedural conditions (as well as) technical conditions, meaning that the films that meet the procedural conditions are presented to us to choose from, and the list did not contain ‘Abu Saddam,’” she added.

A few of the titles floated for consideration this year included “Kira Waljen” directed by Marwan Hamed; “Qamar 14” directed by Hadi El-Bagoury; “The Crime” directed by Sherif Arafa; and “2 Talaat Harb” directed by Magdy Ahmed Ali.

Egyptian producer, scriptwriter and member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Mohamed Hefzy added that despite a bevy of commendable films released in 2022, none were nominated due to the high standard of films that will compete from around the world.

Mohamed Hefzy shared his thoughts on the lack of an Egyptian submission this year. (AFP)

“The committee that made the decision included more than 30 filmmakers, and it is clear that the films presented to them did not live up to their expectations to be nominated for the Oscars,” he told Arab News.

“As a person who is a member of the Academy, and those who vote for the best international film, I can say that the level of the 90 films that compete every year for Oscars from all over the world are well-made films, so the competition is very tough, and in my opinion when there aren’t any Oscar-worthy movies worth nominating it’s better to not nominate any,” he added.

Previous films submitted for Oscars consideration by Egypt include “Soad” (2019), “Youm El Din” (2018) and “Sheikh Jackson” (2017), among others.


US band OneRepublic to headline new music festival in Abu Dhabi

US band OneRepublic to headline new music festival in Abu Dhabi
Updated 03 October 2022

US band OneRepublic to headline new music festival in Abu Dhabi

US band OneRepublic to headline new music festival in Abu Dhabi

DUBAI: Just when you thought Abu Dhabi’s event calendar couldn’t get any busier, events organizer Live Nation has announced a new music festival headed to the UAE capital. Amplified Music Festival will take place on Yas Links from Nov. 11-13. Coming to the UAE for the first time, the three-day-long event will see international headliners OneRepublic, Ministry of Sound and CAS perform.

Performing on Nov. 11 will be American pop rock band OneRepublic, most famous for their smash single “Apologize.” The band recently released a new single, “I Ain’t Worried,” featured in “Top Gun: Maverick.”

On Nov. 12, festival-goers can witness the 15-piece Ministry of Sound Funk & Soul band presenting their celebrated live show, “Ministry of Sound Disco.”

On Nov. 13, alternative pop phenomenon CAS, who sold out two shows on their previous visit to the UAE earlier this year, will take to the stage as headliners.