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Dubai: The Galliard, located at the Address Downtown Dubai, just appointed a brand new Chef, Monserrato Marini, who moved on from Scalini, to join the Turkish Mediterranean concept. Marini, who hails from Sardinia, Italy has created a fresh new menu at the Galliard. His Italian roots are clearly visible in the new menu, where pasta, fresh seafood and grilled meats make a very prominent appearance on the menu.

Gulf News sits down with the chef at the Galliard, over mashed avocado and artichoke and fresh raw seafood, to talk about his new journey into Turkish-Mediterranean cuisine.

GN: How did you collaboration with the Galliard begin?

I believe in Mediterranean food. I moved from Italian to a Turkish Mediterranean restaurant because I feel both cuisines are so similar. Most importantly, the basics are the same. Fresh fish, fresh vegetables. Lots of clean ingredients and very simple way of cooking. I like to cook a “Mama cooking style”

GN: Vegetables are very important in Mediterranean cooking. How important are vegetables to you in your food?

Vegetables are extremely important in my cooking. I like to cook them in a very simple way. Little bit of olive oil, some lemon, little seasoning. I have lots of salads in the menu. Vegetarians will have plenty to eat when they come to the Galliard. Everyone always associates Turkish food with lots of grills. Meat, fish chicken, and we offer that of course, but we definitely keep our vegetables as a main player here. You should try our artichoke and avocado salad. (Editor’s note: We did and it was amazing)

GN: Tell us about the new menu items at Galliard

My vision for the new menu, is to revisit the Turkish dish, and kind of recreate them in a simple way. We will focus on seafood in the new menu. I want us to get what is fresh and in season. The guests can choose their fish and they can decide how they want it. We are very flexible. All the beef on our menu is now wagyu. The poultry is from France and Italy. And the veggies are from all over Turkey and Italy. So everything, from the dish composition, to the ingredients sourced is from the Mediterranean area. I bought a new ice cream machine, in which we created a Turkish yoghurt ice cream with fresh pistachio, honey and baklava on top. And my favourite, the pistachio ice cream, which we put olive oil on. It’s like a perfect mix of sweet and savoury.

GN: Do you personally like to over indulge or do you prefer to keep your meals light and balanced?

I personally prefer to have a balance, but generally more indulgent. I love things that taste good. I love butter, I love bread. Fat is very important in our diet. I like to add sinful things to my desserts too, like sugar and chocolate and just things that give it richness and flavor. Never trust a thin chef.

GN: How long do you experiment with a dish before you add it to the menu?

It takes me about 2 weeks to decide what goes on a menu or what doesn’t. We experiment and taste and perfect. But I feel like I have a system. I have been a chef all my life, so I have a proper system down. I know what to make and I know how things taste. I know what I want in a dish. When I came to the Galliard, I sat and worked together with the bosses, to discuss and taste and create the perfect mix of Turkish, Mediterranean and French. It takes me two to three weeks to finalize dish.

GN: What was the best advice you’ve received about your work and career

“Nothing is impossible in the kitchen. You have to find a way to make it work.” I have been told that if a customer wants something specific, we should be able to make it happen. I am a flexible chef. I know some chefs, who don’t accept changes to their dishes. I like to find a solution for everyone.

GN: So far you have lived in cities all over Italy, London and Dubai, what do you like about each of those places?

I love living in Dubai because of the amazing weather. You can be anything you want to be in Dubai. You can be a beach person, a party person, a career person… it’s endless. I also love living near the sea. I am originally from Sardinia. What I loved about Italy, is how easy it is to source incredible ingredients. Everything is exactly as you expect it. Things are fresh and easily accessible. But there weren’t many jobs there. So I went to London to work there. I love London. It has such a great energy and I learned so much during my time there.

GN: Where do you like to eat in Dubai, when you aren’t eating at Galliard?

To be honest, I don’t eat out. I like to cook and eat at home. I am someone who knows what they want to eat, and sometimes restaurants don’t have what I want. So I cook it myself. When I go to Galliard, I can literally pick anything and I know I will love it.

GN: What is your favourite dish to highlight on the new menu?

The pappardelle with truffle and veal ragu and the spaghetti lobster.

GN: Which dessert do you recommend at Galliard?

To be honest. It’s a lot! We have a Turkish coffee tiramisu, the Turkish yoghurt ice cream with baklava with honey.

Lightning round questions

1. Butter or olive oil? Butter

2. Steak or Lobster? Both

3. Sit down dinner or buffet? Sit down dinner

4. Favourite ingredient to cook with? Sea Urchin. It’s amazing in Pasta

5. What is your daily breakfast? I have eggs, fruits and mint tea with ginger. I don’t drink espresso.

6. What music do you listen to while getting ready for service? Nothing. I listen to my own voice shouting. Just kidding. I like to focus. I like to keep things quiet so I can think and prepare for each guest.

7. Mountains or beaches? Beaches

8. If you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be? A fresh seafood platter. Oysters, prawn, lobster.

9. The one food people should try when they visit Dubai. They should eat here at the Galliard