Chefs call on Michelin to award stars in Dubai

Chefs working in the region urge Michelin to hold Dubai's best restaurants to international standard

As well as seeking a thriving culinary secene, Michelin looks for a business interest for the city as well as a sponsor for the guides
As well as seeking a thriving culinary secene, Michelin looks for a business interest for the city as well as a sponsor for the guides

Dubai is ready for a Michelin Guide, according to nearly two-thirds of chefs who took part in the seventh annual Caterer Middle East Head Chef Survey.

A total of 61.4% of respondents said they believe now is the right time for Michelin to award its first stars in the emirate, echoing the sentiments of the guides’ publisher just a few months ago.

Michelin Guides international director Michael Ellis spoke about the topic earlier this year, stating that it is “only a matter of time” before a guide is published in the city, and the first Michelin stars are awarded to its restaurants.

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Caterer Middle East reported Ellis’ remarks back in March, following his visit to Dubai as part of the French company’s sponsorship of the Global Restaurant Investment Forum (GRIF) 2016 — and posed the question to chefs for the first time as part of its anonymous survey.

Those chefs working in the region who are urging the annual guide books to reflect Dubai’s culinary achievements pointed out that numerous Michelin-starred chefs have already opened restaurants in Dubai and the considerable amount of public support in the emirate for a guide.

There are more than 20 Michelin-rated chefs with restaurants in Dubai, including Heinz Beck, Gary Rhodes, Giorgio Locatelli, Jason Atherton and Tom Aikens.

While Ellis confirmed steps are being taken to bring Dubai in line with London, Paris, Tokyo and New York, as yet has hasn’t specified a timeframe for the launch.

The Caterer Middle East Head Chef Survey 2016, which ran throughout July, also asked chefs to pinpoint a time when they realistically think the Michelin Guide will be published, and the vast majority — 79.1% — predicted that the city would have under five years to wait.

A more cautiously optimistic 14% of chefs said they thought between five and 10 years was likely, while 7% of respondents forecast a wait in excess of 10 years.

Reasons given by the 38.6% of chefs who stated they did not think Dubai was ready yet for a Michelin Guide largely highlighted the still-developing culinary landscape and inconsistent standards.

One chef told Caterer: “Dubai is quite far from the leading cities of the world”. Another stated: “For the moment, Dubai restaurants only copy others”.

As well as seeking a thriving culinary secene, tyre-firm Michelin also looks for a business interest for the city as well as a sponsor for the guides. Speaking about Dubai’s ability to qualify in this respect, Ellis told the GRIF audience: “We certainly have the first two in Dubai, and we’ve had good meetings with Dubai’s Department of Tourism [and Commerce Marketing] and Emirates [airline].”

The Michelin Guides’ star categorisation is the standard to which the world’s foremost restaurants hold themselves. Five criteria are considered by Michelin inspectors: quality of ingredients, skill in the preparation; combinations of flavours; value for money; and consistency of culinary standards (over time and throughout the menu).

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