Dubai Food Festival, a packed 17-day culinary celebration of new events, activities and promotions, has announced the first installment of coveted celebrity chefs who will be headlining the launch celebrations.Representing Arabian, Greek, French and Australian cuisines these culinary masters are set to entice and excite the tens of thousands of residents and visitors expected at the Middle East’s only truly citywide food festival.
Serving up a mouth-watering epicurean showcase for Dubai Food Festival will be Australian legends and stars of the critically acclaimed Australian MasterChef series, George Calombaris and Gary Mehigan. Also joining them is the French-born star of ‘My Kitchen Rules’ Manu Feildel; television favourite and restauranteur Matt Moran and the hugely popular restauranteur and author, Shannon Bennett. Adding to this star studded international line-up is the “Queen of the Arabian Kitchen”, Chef Manal Al Alem, a highly celebrated figure in Middle Eastern cooking.
Visitors to the festival, running 25 February to 12 March 2016, will have multiple opportunities to get up close to the stars, whether at the highly-popular and exclusive Dining with the Stars events, the family-friendly Beach Canteen on Kite Beach or at the interactive chef MasterClasses at distinguished cookery school, Scafa in JLT.
“We are extremely happy to welcome this caliber of celebrity chefs as part of our upcoming Dubai Food Festival. The fact that these world class masters chose Dubai Food Festival to showcase their culinary mastery is clear proof that Dubai is steadily becoming a beacon for foodies and experts from across the globe,” said Laila Suhail, CEO of Dubai Festivals and Retail Establishment (DFRE), an agency of the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) that organises the event.
“This announcement is just one of many to come with the main objective being to drive more attention to the diverse culinary mosaic that Dubai, uniquely, offers to its visitors. We will continue to work closely with our partners within the restaurant sector in Dubai to ensure that they reap the benefits of this partnership and attract more visitors to Dubai.”
Dubai’s gastronomy scene has continued to go from strength to strength, with a dazzling array of gourmet and avant-garde restaurant concepts to local haunts and hidden gems. And Dubai Food Festival’s celebrity chefs are looking forward to immersing themselves to see what concepts they can take back home with them to weave into their own restaurant offerings.
“I find traveling, experiencing other cultures: new tastes, new techniques, incredibly inspiring. Dubai has always proven exciting. I like searching Dubai for unique cooking techniques I can bring back to our kitchens. I am looking forward to being involved in the Dubai Food Festival and exploring what unique produce and cooking techniques Dubai has to offer,” said Shannon Bennett, whose restaurant Vue de monde was awarded Restaurant of the Year in The Age Good Food Guide, 2013 and 2014.
Also relishing his chance to explore Dubai’s restaurant offering is British born and trained Chef Gary Mehigan – best known for his role as host and mentor on MasterChef Australia.
“I always enjoy my time in Dubai, so I’m really excited about coming to the Dubai Food Festival in February. Dubai is famous for its eclectic mix of world class chefs and restaurants that boast some of the most exquisite locations, I also love digging a little deeper to find and experience some authentic and unique local Emirati cuisine,” added the star, who co-hosts two shows on Australia’s Lifestyle Food Channel, Good Chef, Bad Chef, and Boy’s Weekend.
Dubai Food Festival and Beach Canteen run from 25 February – 12 March 2016. The event promotes the diversity, creativity and multicultural nature of Dubai’s culinary offering – from five-star gourmet dining to everyday restaurants and cafés for all budgets; international brands to a burgeoning scene of home-grown concepts influenced by traditional Emirati cuisine and the flavours of the 200 nationalities that live in Dubai.
For more information on the Festival’s schedule and details on how to register for or buy tickets for events, visit www.dubaifoodfestival.com.
About the Celebrity Chefs
Host of Master Chef Australia and Chef’s Hat recipient, George Calombaris is one of the most accomplished chefs in Australia. Born into a family of Greek immigrants, Hellenic food and culture was a large part of his upbringing and has been a central part of his journey as a chef and restaurateur. His flagship restaurant The Press Club introduced Australians to modern Greek cuisine. He has also extended his vision to open several other establishments across Melbourne including Gazi, Hellenic Republic, Press Club, Mastic and Souvlakia chain Jimmy Grants. His ambitious and meaningful contribution to Australia’s food culture has been recognised through multiple awards including “Chef of the Year” (2008) and Restaurant of the Year (The Press Club, 2008).
Fans of George will have the opportunity to meet him at the Beach Canteen, dine with him at Dine with the Stars or participate in one of his MasterClasses.
Chef Manal Al Alem
The “Queen of the Arabian Kitchen”, Chef Manal Al Alem is a well-known and highly celebrated figure in Middle Eastern cooking. Over the years she has been using her talent and prominence in the field to educate and expand people’s relationship with food and cooking, emphasising its relevance to one’s own culture and heritage. She has done this through her television programmes and cook books which are filled with delicious and wholesome recipes delivered in a way that would make anyone entering the kitchen feel at home. Fans of Manal will have the opportunity to meet her at the Beach Canteen, share dinner at Dine with the Stars or participate in one of her Master Classes or at Fatafeat Kitchen.
What started as an opportunity to make friends at school turned to be the start of a lifelong passion for food and cooking. He began his formal training in Melbourne’s Grand Hyatt and extended to Europe working under some of the most renowned Chefs in the world. He returned to Melbourne at the age of 24 and opened his first restaurant Vue de monde. His edgy and challenging approach to the art of fine dining granted him great notoriety and saw his restaurant empire and reputation grow with Café Vueand Bistro Vue. Bennett was also the first Australian granted membership of Jeunes Restaurateurs D’EuropeandLes Grandes Tables du Monde. In 2014 Shannon opened his newest Restaurant Jardin Tan in Melbourne’s Botanical Gardens.
Fans of Shannon will have the opportunity to meet him at the Beach Canteen, dine with him at Dine with the Stars or participate in one of his MasterClasses.
Shannon on being part of Dubai Food Festival 2016, “Dubai is a beast of a city, it’s a city of riches, where exotic silks and spices contrast with space-age buildings and there are still links to Dubai’s Bedouin past. I love that you can dine at places like Ravi restaurant and Calicut Paragon, then finish your evening with a drink at The Jetty Lounge, One and Only where it all began.
“I find traveling, experiencing other cultures: new tastes, new techniques, incredibly inspiring. Dubai has always proven exciting. I like searching Dubai for unique cooking techniques I can bring back to our kitchens. I am looking forward to being involved in the Dubai Food Festival and exploring what unique produce and cooking techniques Dubai has to offer”
Sydney born Matt Moran has been a prominent figure in Australian cooking for the past twenty years. After opening his first restaurant The Paddington Inn Bistro in 1991, he has gone on to open seven other restaurants. In 1999 he opened his flagship ARIA restaurant located in Sydney’s Harbour. Since its opening it has been awarded two “Chef’s Hats” from the Sydney Morning Herald’s Good Food Guide on ten occasions. Over the past decade he has expanded his restaurant empire with seven different establishments having opened across Australia. Matt is also a television favourite having appeared in numerous programmes including The Chopping Block, Paddock to Plate and most recently The Great Australian Bake Off. Fans of Matt will have the opportunity to meet him at the Beach Canteen, dine with him at Dine with the Stars or participate in one of his MasterClasses.
Best known for his role as host and mentor on Master Chef Australia, British born and trained Chef Gary Mehigan moved to Melbourne, Australia in 1991.Since then having worked in some of Melbourne’s most elite restaurants Mehiganhas established himself as a household name and prominent figure in Australian cooking.In 2005 he opened Boathouse with business partner Steve Bogdani. Gary has been a familiar face in living rooms across Australia for many years, teaching Australians to cook through television programs like Good Chef, Bad Chef, Boy’s Weekend . Fans of Gary will have the opportunity to meet him at the Beach Canteen, dine with him at Dine with the Stars or participate in one of his MasterClasses.
Gary on being part of Dubai Food Festival 2016, “ I always enjoy my time in Dubai, so I’m really excited about coming to the Dubai Food Festival in February. Dubai is famous for its eclectic mix of world class chefs and restaurants that boast some of the most exquisite locations, I also love digging a little deeper to find and experience some authentic and unique local Emirati cuisine. Dubai here I come…!”
Manu Feildel decided to follow his family’s tradition of great chefs, starting his career as an apprentice in his father’s restaurant. After training in some of London’s finest French Restaurants, Manu moved to Australia in 1999 and built his reputation working in the kitchens in high end Restaurants across Sydney where he eventually went on to open establishments of his own. His commitment to fine dining and French cuisine has been recognised through multiple awards. Today Manu is one of the most popular and celebrated chefs in Australia and acts as host and judge onSeven’sMy Kitchen Rules Australia. Fans of Manu will have the opportunity to meet him at the Beach Canteen, dine with him at Dine with the Stars or participate in one of his Master Classes.
Manu on joining Dubai Food Festival 2016, “I am happy to be joining the team of Chefs for this year’s Dubai Food Festival in February. I’m looking forward to all the exciting events we have planned and experiencing some new sights and tastes whilst in Dubai”