Diners enjoy Taste of Dubai 2011 Diners enjoy Taste of Dubai 2011

The 2012 Taste of Dubai food festival kicks off at 3pm today at Media City’s amphitheatre and boasts more restaurants and celebrity chefs than ever before.

With 26 restaurants showcasing their finest dishes, a host of international culinary talent chefs flying in, and an exciting cooking school with free workshops, the event promises to be a gourmet extravaganza full of tantalising treats for everyone, no matter what your palate.

Talking yesterday to Caterer, Chris Fountain, managing director, said he was looking forward to the festival, which had grown unprecedentedly since its launch in 2008:

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“We have 26 restaurants showcasing this year,” he explained. “Which is double what we had when we first started. It really reflects how the restaurant scene has expanded in Dubai.

“We have very exciting chefs attending, like Nobu Matsuhisa – he was a real coup for us. We really weren’t expecting him to attend.”

Although, Fountain did admit attracting celebrity chefs to the event isn’t that difficult: “Who wouldn’t want to come to Dubai?” he said. “Some of the chefs have their own projects here and want to show commitment to their restaurants, others use it as an opportunity to see what the place is like, especially if they’re thinking of investing in the region. We’re very lucky here.”

This year, restaurants will be trying to be more experiential with their stands, Fountain predicts: “In the past the exhibitors have been focused on the food, but I think now they’re investing in recreating the whole restaurant experience on their stand – the decor, the staff, the music. It’s become much more experiential. It’s no small feat."

In the festival’s confirmed line-up are celebrity chefs: Nobu Matsuhisa, Giorgio Locatelli, Aldo Zilli, Aarti Sequeira, Atul Kochhar , Gary Rhodes, Vineet Bhatia and Richard Sandoval.

Among the exhibiting restaurants are: Nobu, Seafire, Saffron, Ronda Locatelli, The Ivy, Toro Toro, Zafran, Da Shi Dai, Table 9 by Nick and Scott, Mahec, Sonamu, Indego, Times of Arabia, Rhodes Mezzanine and Carluccio’s

The Miele Cookery School will give visitors the opportunity to enjoy a fun filled masterclass with celebrity chefs in interactive culinary sessions.

The event takes place in Dubai Media City’s ampitheatre and runs until Saturday 17, March. Opening hours are: March 15, 3pm-12pm; March 16, 12pm-12am; March 17, 12pm-11pm. Entrance tickets cost AED 75 on the door. Kids go free.