Event review: The Chef’s Table at the Hotel Show Dubai

The Chef’s Table is a new culinary competition at The Hotel Show Dubai 2018 to turn up the heat on leading hotel kitchens in the region. Emirate Culinary Guild president Uwe Micheel shares on what to expect at the timed cook-off

Uwe Micheel.
Uwe Micheel.

The Chef’s Table Competition taking place during the Hotel Show Dubai, from September 16-18,  2018, will see nine top hotel chefs and respective teams from the Middle East battling it out to offer exceptional guest experience and great taste all while adhering to a stringent set of rules.

Hotels already confirmed for the challenge are The St. Regis Abu Dhabi, Ajman Saray, Miramar Al Aqah Beach Resort, JW Marriott Marquis Hotel Dubai and Radisson Blu Hotel, Dubai Deira Creek.

In the timed cooking competition, the ingredients won’t be revealed until the countdown clock starts ticking. The nine competing teams will be judged on hygiene, kitchen skills, creativity in putting the ingredients together, cooking skills, and, of course, taste.

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This exciting challenge, which has Carrefour as exclusive F&B partner along with Diversey as the hygiene sponsor and 1765 Gemini as the tableware sponsor, will be judged by a panel of four expert chefs led by Uwe Micheel, president of the Emirates Culinary Guild.

Explaining the details of the contest, Micheel said: “This is a challenge designed for the competing teams to showcase what a diner can experience from the moment he or she steps into the hotel. So one barman, two service members, and three guys in the kitchen. The team should include one young chef and young waiter. This is to ensure the development of the young staff. What could be a more relevant bout at the Hotel Show?”

The competition will comprise of three-hour battles each that will see three full lunch menus cooked-up. Micheel, along with Carrefour, is in the midst of developing the mystery boxes containing all ingredients to be used in the cook-off which the teams can unbox only when countdown commences.

Presentation is a focus too, but Micheel says with social media platforms like Instagram, it’s changed the way people view food. He continues: “Chefs, today, have to focus on taste as well as aesthetics for Instagram. But, to be honest, it is a nightmare because people have to put their food on social media before tasting it. Diners spend a lot of time clicking that perfect picture during which time the food is sitting there getting cold.

“However, the Chef’s Table challenge will not be limited to focusing on presentation. It will be a true test of creativity, skill and teamwork”, explained the head judge.

Talking about the food sector and evolved cooking talent in the UAE, Micheel said, “We now have chefs from all over the world in the UAE. This diversity is not available in many countries. 20 years ago, the norm was to scope out the restaurant scene and food trends in Paris, London and Singapore before starting an outlet in the UAE. Today, the country’s diverse and palatable food scene serves as a reference point for food hubs from around the world.

“The wide range of food options, available in the UAE, capable of catering to the most distinct and demanding food preferences has contributed to the country’s strong inbound tourism figures,” he points out.

However, he also opines that tourists should be open to experience the food of the country that they are visiting.

So what is the latest trend food trend in the UAE? “Last year, burgers were a big thing. This year, different types of hotdogs are the in thing in Europe, which is catching on in the Middle East. Typically, such trends are around for about six months before something new comes up,” Micheel notes.

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