Izu Ani. Izu Ani.

Who or what inspired you to become a chef?

I have been cooking from an early age and from there my passion of cooking came naturally. I started to cook very simple dishes, then as I grew up, I became more creative with the dishes I was cooking and realised I had a natural talent for it.

There seems to be a common theme running through your concepts. What draws you to Mediterranean cuisine? 

The climate in the Mediterranean is very similar to Dubai so the cuisine is easily enjoyed here. Fresh flavours are what I look for in a cuisine. The ingredients in the Mediterranean dishes that I cook are always bursting with flavours but are very light.

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What are the key opportunities and challenges associated with running restaurants in this region?

The main opportunity is that it’s a young market; if you can understand the environment you will be able to work to its strengths. The main challenge is that it is also a transient market, with people always migrating and sometimes here for a brief period. This leads to inconsistency or less loyalty from workers.

You’ve recently opened two adjacent concepts in City Walk. Why was it important to have two distinct spaces?

They are two different products, catering for different needs of the day but also complementing each other. Izu Bakery for breakfast and lunch, Izu Brasserie for lunch and dinner. They overlap each other slightly in terms of what they deliver, which strengthens both outlets.  

Your recent openings have been on the more casual side. Do you have plans to get back into fine dining?

It’s good food; food that is thought about. One of my next restaurant openings will be in the DIFC, which could be considered as fine dining, but the food philosophy is the same: simple, honest food.

Are you working on any new concepts?

Yes, I am working on another five concepts in Dubai and three outside of Dubai.