Chefs pressured to prioritise aesthetics over taste, says Emirates Culinary Guild president

Speaking ahead of his participation at this year's Hotel Show, Uwe Micheel outlined that food must now be social media-worthy

Uwe Micheel
Austin Agnelo Lobo Photography Copyright 2017
Uwe Micheel

The UAE has a reputation for being a food capital in the region and recent statistics back the claim. According to the KPMG UAE 2018 Food & Beverage report, the restaurant footprint in Dubai is second only to that of Paris. And it’s growing. A report issued by the Business Registration & Licensing (BRL) sector in the Department of Economic Development (DED), indicated that 1,109 new restaurants and cafes opened in Dubai in 2018.

Integral to this growth are chefs and their culinary skills. Chef Uwe Micheel, president of the Emirates Culinary Guild will lead the panel of expert chefs to judge the second edition of The Chef’s Table competition, taking place during The Hotel Show Dubai, from 17th - 19th September 2019 at Dubai World Trade Centre. Hailing from 12 hotels across the UAE, chefs and their respective teams will star in the timed cooking competition where the ingredients won’t be revealed until the buzzer goes.

Speaking about the competition, Micheel said: “Team effort will be integral to win this competition where the contending teams will be judged on hygiene, kitchen skills, creativity in putting the ingredients together, cooking skills, and of course taste.”

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To recreate the complete experience that a diner has from the moment he or she steps into a restaurant, the participating teams are required to have one barman, two service members, and three members in the kitchen, with the addition of a steward.

As well as chefs, Dubai is home to an increasing population of food bloggers. Micheel shared that whilst he has the highest respect for reputed bloggers in the UAE, he feels that the majority are self-proclaimed experts who have to sharpen their knowledge on the topic. He said: “If you have only eaten pizza your whole life then how can you comment with authority on fine dining French cuisine?”

Shedding light on challenges faced by chefs in the Middle East Micheel revealed that there is pressure to prioritise aesthetics over taste so that the food is social media-worthy. Another looming issue in the local and global industry is food wastage which can be resolved when each one of us are more responsible while consuming and serving food.

The chef strongly encourages consumers to be more mindful about the quantity ordered for a table or served on one’s plate so that it does not get wasted.  He also stressed that operators too have to consider more efficient ways to control food wastage in order to prevent a food crisis, saying: “If this is left unattended, my grandchildren and the future generation may have to eat pills instead of food.”

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