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UAE chefs’ cookbook recommendations

Build your library with these must-reads from the UAE’s top culinary experts

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Tabloid on Saturday

Irshad Khalid Quraishi is chef de cuisine at Indego by Vineet at Grosvenor House Hotel, Dubai Marina

Favourite cookbook: Rasoi: New Indian Kitchen by Vineet Bhatia.

“It is a great book that teaches readers everything about the basic ingredients and flavours used in various types of Indian cooking. It can be quite tricky getting the balance of spice, flavour and texture right in Indian dishes, so this book takes you through it all step by step. It includes more than 150 recipes, all of which have a modern twist on traditional Indian cuisine.” The book is designed for the enthusiastic cook and features elements of molecular gastronomy along with Western influences and inspirations from fellow Michelin-starred chefs — Ferran Adria and Heston Blumenthal.

Harpal Singh Sokhi worked with Sanjeev Kapoor to create the menu for Kapoor’s new restaurant in Dubai, Signature, at the Melia in Bur Dubai.

Favourite cookbook: The Flavour Thesaurus by Niki Segnit

“I couldn’t leave the book from the moment I finished reading the first page. I feel this one is a must-have for almost all chefs who have reached a level in their kitchens. This books helps one understand how to manage flavours and combine ingredients. The first book that inspired me was Larousse Gastronomique; I still keep it as a reference bible. Any cook worth his salt will swear by this, which is actually a beginner’s book. All three years of my college I read almost every page and was known as the walking Larousse.”

Dwayne Cheer is the excutive chef at At.Mosphere, the steakhouse on the 123rd floor of Burj Khalifa.

Favourite cookbook: Eleven Madison Park by Daniel Humm

“11 Madison is a restaurant in New York City in Madison Square Garden. The book is the best on the market since The French Laundry came out in 1999. The chef works with purely seasonal products and writes his menu seasonally; the style is very similar to Thomas Keller’s, whose cookbook has inspired me for years, as it is very similar to our style. As a chef it’s great to have cookbooks such as Nobu, and Alinea by Grant Achatz, but as this is not the style of cuisine I do, these are more for reading, to see different styles and products, to see molecular cuisine and achieve something that is beyond what you yourself do. My first two cookbooks were Mosimann, by Anton Mosimann, which inspired me to travel, and Nico by Nico Ladenis, who was the oldest chef to receive three Michelin stars — this inspired me to work hard and want to achieve working in a Michelin kitchen.”

Luca Signorelli, chef de cuisine at Roberto’s

Favourite cookbook: In.gredienti by Massimiliano Alajmo

“One of my favourite books has to be by Italian chef Massimiliano Alajmo, who has a restaurant called Le Calandre in Italy. The book, titled In.gredienti, is a book that was produced by not only professional but his friends too. It is easy to follow. It also won the “Best Book in the World” tag a few years ago. Another favourite is Thomas Keller’s Under Pressure. One of America’s most respected chefs, this book is perfect for all culinary enthusiasts.

Simon Wipf, chef de cuisine at Traiteur, Park Hyatt

Favourite cookbook: Tour Du Monde (“Around the world”) by Alain Ducasse

“Next to Yannick Alleno (4 Saisons), Eric Frechon and Thomas Keller (The French Laundry), Alain Ducasse is the winner. The book includes all his restaurants around the world, from Paris to Tokyo to the US. It is very international, not too difficult to understand and well explained. Every dish has a picture, so you can imagine what the dish is all about and can follow easily. Ducasse is very organic and sticks to the basics, which is very important, as the trend is gradually shifting to going back to our roots.”

Nachwan Koukach, executive sous chef at the Ibn Battuta Gate Hotel

Favourite cookbook: Saha: A Chef’s Journey Through Lebanon and Syria, by Greg and Lucy Malouf

“It goes through the journey of traditional Arabic in Lebanese and Syrian food using organic ingredients and captures the different seasons. The book inspired me because it is the chef’s personal journey of how he used traditional food with modern presentation. Since food is evolving, a chef has to give the same taste of traditional food but present it in a modern way. Moreover, he has also touched on French cuisine and its relation to both countries.”

Reif Othman, Zuma’s executive head chef

Favourite cookbooks: Larousse Gastronomique and Larousse Kitchenware

“This was my first cookbook, given to me by my parents when I was 16 years old, in Singapore doing my diploma in Culinary Arts. It has great sentimental value for me, as buying such a book in those days was very expensive. It showcases all kinds of ingredients and techniques involved in making stocks, sauces and dressings, and filleting, and deboning, and has basic pastry recipes. As for the kitchenware, it is important to understand which pots and pans or knives you need to use in the kitchen. This is the only cookbook that I would stick by. It’s like my bible.”

Ben Tobitt, head chef at The Ivy Dubai

Favourite cookbook: Larousse Gastronomique by Prosper Montagne

“My first, most-used and favourite cookbook. The book was given to me as a present from my father when I graduated from catering college 15 years ago, and it is the classic of all classic cookbooks. It is basically a cooking and culinary encyclopaedia arranged from A-Z, and in my opinion every professional chef should have a copy. I still refer to it at least twice a week and will probably still do for the rest of my career. I also spent two years in Japanese kitchens and a book that was of great help to me in the early days was The Quick and Easy Japanese Cookbook by Katsuyo Kobayashi. It explains all the basics very clearly and teaches the Japanese terminology for food items. Although I’m now back in European kitchens, the book and the experience has benefited me greatly, and a lot of the dishes that go on The Ivy menu now come from ideas and dishes that I did while working with Japanese food.”

Chef Yvan Rocher, chef de cuisine and manager at M’s Beef Bistro & M’s Seafood Bistro, Le Méridien Dubai

Favourite cookbook: La Cuisine de Regis et Jacques Marcon

“Chef Regis Marcon is a recipient of three Michelin stars and is known for being one of the most distinguished chefs in France. Chef Marcon uses products from the countryside, such as wild mushrooms, vegetables and herbs, in the cooking process. He sees cooking as a means of expression — a language linking man and nature — and is constantly in search of new ideas and techniques. I’m looking forward to seeing my own recipes published in Le Méridien Dubai’s cookbook, which will be on the shelves later this year.”