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Roberto’s Abu Dhabi Battle of the Chefs: What to know

The third event to be organised in the UAE over the last month will see chefs Enrico Bartolini and Francesco Guarracino face off in the kitchen

  • Enrico Bartolini, left, and Francesco Guarracino.Image Credit:
  • Image Credit: Supplied
  • Image Credit: Supplied
  • Image Credit: Supplied
Tabloid

We’re all being inspired by food TV, it seems and now want more than a mere tasting menu when dining out — going by the number of food events coming our way. In the third Battle of the Chefs event to be organised in the UAE over the last month, chefs Enrico Bartolini and Francesco Guarracino have been sharpening their knives for war at Roberto’s Abu Dhabi on October 11. The pair faced off earlier this year.

We tossed a few questions their way last week.

THE INTERNATIONAL ICON

Enrico Bartolini, 38, has been firing up dining rooms since his 20s, when he won his first Michelin star. With contemporary classics as his guiding motto, his food aims to combine past and present into new, original plates that are aesthetically presented. The Roberto’s Group culinary advisor now runs four restaurants across Italy, including three with Michelin stars, with another on the way next month.

What are your thoughts going into this new Battle of the Chefs?

I’m bringing new ideas from Italy and unique dishes with me. Chef Francesco was the winner of the last battle. I’m excited to be heading back for round two, it’s a great experience.

What’s your cooking philosophy? How will it be on show?

My cooking philosophy is to keep it classic with a touch of contemporary. At the event I will exhibit this by serving up traditional Italian dishes that have a modern twist.

Why are restaurants laying events like this nowadays?

Involving people, encouraging them to have a voice and giving them the choice is a real human and professional responsibility. People love to feel involved and part of something, it takes the dining experience to another level.

What are the highlights of your menu?

I think that sauces have the power to really change and amplify the taste of a dish, so this is something that will be a prominent highlight of my dishes.

How are you preparing for the event?

One of the biggest things my team and I have been focusing on is tasting the dishes until we are 100 per cent happy with them. My mantra is: Stay focused.

THE LOCAL LAD

Francesco Guarracino, the executive chef at Roberto’s Abu Dhabi, was born into a family of chefs, and, as the son of a two-star Michelin chef, started working in professional kitchens from the age of 11. A native of Sorrento, which is outside Naples, he focuses on developing a range of new speciality dishes from around Italy with an old-world tableside experience, and has cooked for a host of celebrities including Diego Maradona, Silvio Berlusconi, Madonna, Rihanna and Giorgio Armani.

You won the last round. What are your thoughts going into this new Battle of the Chefs?

I am extremely grateful to have been able to take the title home after Battle of the Chefs round one. I’m so excited to be going up against Chef Enrico again. I will present something new, that we usually don’t do in our kitchen; my aim is to surprise the guests by taking inspiration from my previous experience.

What’s your cooking philosophy? How will it be on show?

My philosophy is based on two pillars, ingredients and emotions. I’m sourcing the best ingredients to be able to showcase the emotion that I put into my dishes.

Why are restaurants laying events like this nowadays?

These events work as people love to feel involved and participate in the voting and final result. The aim is for the customer to speak freely and give their preference to the dishes that impresses them the most. Our guests do not know who has created what dishes, so that they can judge without any influence.

What are the highlights of your menu?

The highlights include the Bluefin tuna belly, which in Italian is called ventresca. Other standouts include red prawns from Mazara del Vallo, which is a small fisherman’s village in Sicily, and Hazelnuts from Piedmonte — it doesn’t get any more authentic Italian than that.

How are you preparing for the event?

My staff and I have been preparing by making sure that our service is absolutely top notch. We have tried the dishes from the menu many times, until we have been more than satisfied with it… However, when you are in the kitchen you should always expect the unexpected, but we will be ready to deal with any challenges.

THE DETAILS

Tuck into six courses at Roberto’s Abu Dhabi on October 11 when Enrico Bartolini and Francesco Guarracino face off in a culinary show down and vote on who wins. All for Dh495++.

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