It's the Taste of Dubai (TOD) food festival's fifth year of serving up the best of Dubai restaurants and global celebrity chefs, and this year they've gone bigger than ever. With 26 restaurants from around the city, countless cooking demonstrations and gourmet treats, it's all worth checking out but can be a bit of a headspinner. Here are our five unmissable things to do there this weekend.
Nobu's miso black cod With Nobu Matsuhisa
Restaurants are famous. Chefs are famous. Individual dishes — not usually. Japanese chef and restaurant legend Nobu Matsuhisa changed all that the day he decided to marinate cod in sweetened miso paste and grill it, resulting in exquisite deliciousness that people still talk about. For the first time, the Atlantis-based restaurant will be participating in the festival, serving up tastes of the dish that usually costs a more painful amount. Even better — chef Nobu himself will be at TOD from 6.30pm on Saturday for a signing session of his new book, Nobu's Vegetarian Cookbook, copies of which will be on sale at the event.
The vibrant Italian seafood specialist is taking a break from feeding celebrities in London's Soho to conduct chef demonstrations at the Philip's Chef's Theatre.
What will you be cooking at TOD?
Pasta from scratch and seafood —scallops.
You're competing for Dubai foodies' attention alongside many other restaurants and chefs. Why should we come and take a bite out of your dishes?
I'm not competing and I'm not feeding… but I am the best!
What was the last thing you cooked for yourself to eat?
Which cookbook is on your bedside table?
The Silver Spoon [known as the Italian cooking bible].
What was the most memorable dinner you've had that was cooked by someone else?
When my beautiful wife Nikki served me lobster on my birthday wearing La Perla.
What's the most exciting ingredient to cook with?
Ginger — very versatile, healthy and a great flavouring.
If you could choose, what would your last meal be?
You're at Taste of Dubai. If you could describe your personality as a flavour, what would it be?
Chilli - chop your chill with Aldo Zilli!
- Catch Zilli's demos tomorrow at 6pm and 7.40pm; Friday at 3pm and 6.20pm; and Saturday at 4.40pm and 8pm. He's also doing two masterclasses a day at the Miele Cookery School (registration required 30 minutes before start).
Gaucho's churrasco de chorizo
If it's steak you're after, look no further than the Gaucho stand. The Argentine restaurant opened at DIFC late last year and is a first-timer at the festival. On its menu is tangy salmon ceviche (chunks of raw salmon "cooked" in citrus juices and onions), little beef pies called empanadas, and the churrasco de chorizo — a sirloin steak, marinated for 48 hours in garlic, parsley and olive oil,that's unmissably juicy.
Taste of Dubai isn't just about the celebrity chef demonstrations and the best of Dubai's restaurants. There's plenty to do for a full day of fun in the sunshine — or after dark. Check out the exhibitor stands, a selection of top foodie retailers, from gadget heaven Lakeland to Yummy Tummy's personalised sweets, Bloomsbury's cupcakes (only available in Abu Dhabi until now) and RAW coffee's Fair Trade beans. There's also music all weekend from local bands The Maplejacks and Vibrancy and a kids entertainment area.
Bharath S. Bhat, head chef at the modern Indian restaurant in Le Meridien Dubai, has a mouthwatering selection of dishes at his stand, including Goan prawn curry and shahi tukra (bread deep fried in ghee and dipped in sugar syrup) served with vanilla and cardamom sauce. But we're most looking forward to the BBQ. "This year for the first time in Taste, there will live BBQ and we will serve kebabs cooked in front of the guest and served hot and fresh," said Bhat. "It's lamb chops, herb-marinated chicken tikka, served with dal makhani and tawa parantha."
Taste of Dubai takes place at Media City Amphitheatre tomorrow (3pm-12am), Friday (12pm-12am) and Saturday (12-11pm). Entry tickets to the festival, including access to demonstrations, are Dh60 in advance (until tomorrow 3pm) and Dh75 on the door; children under 12 enter free. Dishes from the restaurants are chargeable and are priced from Dh15-30.