Valentine's Day Image Credit: Supplied

If jostling for a last-minute booking for your Valentine date isn’t your idea of fun, then why not simply plan a romantic meal for two at home? Three Dubai chefs put together the perfect three-course dinner that will even have the most novice chefs stirring up the pot like kitchen experts.

Maxime Le Van

Executive Chef at Drift Beach Dubai

Executive Chef Maxime Le Van_DRIFT Beach Dubai-1581340915709

What’s your ideal Valentine’s Day date?

It would be a winter wonderland-esque setting in a mountain chalet somewhere in the Alps or another beautiful ski resort. During the day, me and my date could enjoy the slopes and in the evening, we could cosy up by the fireplace at the chalet.

Dinner at home or a romantic day out?

I would pick a dinner at home, as I find it more romantic and personal. Those planning a Valentine’s dinner at home should ensure they plan their menus carefully to avoid being stuck in the kitchen all evening and being left with a big mess to clean up afterwards. Another romantic option would be to cook dinner together.

The one dish that perfectly sums up Valentine’s for you?

To me, the combination of strawberry and chocolate perfectly sums up what’s Valentine’s Day food should look like — sweet, decadent and probably the highlight of the meal for those with a sweet tooth.

Best advice to avoid V-Day kitchen disasters?

Cook something that you have cooked before and that you’re absolutely confident your other half likes to eat. Also, try to prep most of the meal ahead of time in order to avoid any unexpected issues so that you don’t spend most of the evening in the kitchen.


La Burrata recipe

La Burrata_DRIFT Beach Dubai-1581340928697

Burrata ingredients:

2 burrata of 125g each

250g of the best squash or pumpkin available in your local shop

100ml extra virgin olive oil

Sea salt and freshly grounded black pepper for seasoning

Small bunch of rocket leaves for garnishing

Nuts and seeds granola ingredients:

25g rolled organic oats

10g pumpkin seeds

10g sunflower seeds

10g chopped almond

10g chopped pistachio

10g pine seeds

50g honey

1 pinch of salt

½ pinch of freshly grounded black pepper

Mostarda ingredients:

50g peeled sweet yellow melon

2.5g yellow mustard seeds

2.5g granulated sugar

5g honey

7.5ml cider vinegar

35ml water

½ tsp of mustard powder

1 pinch of salt

½ pinch of freshly grounded black pepper

Sweet vinegar reduction:

10g chopped ginger

15ml apple cider vinegar

25g honey


1. For the sweet vinegar reduction, mix the ingredients in a small saucepan, bring to a boil on medium heat and then turn to a minimum for a gentle simmer and reduce the quantity to a third; strain the ginger out, allow to cool down and store at room temperature until serving.

2. For the mostarda, dice the melon into half a centimetre cubes and mix with all the ingredients in a saucepan. Cook very gently while stirring occasionally for about an hour and a half, or until the liquid has reduced by half. Transfer into a jar, cool the jar down in some ice and refrigerate.

3. For the granola, preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius, mix and spread the nuts and seeds on a baking tray, bake for four minutes until golden, take out of the oven on a heatproof surface to add the honey and season with salt and pepper while still hot.

4. Next, mix well to spread the honey and seasoning throughout the granola and return to the oven to bake for another four minutes to caramelise the honey.

5. Once done, remove from the oven, transfer and spread onto a greaseproof paper and allow to cool down completely at room temperature, then store in a closed, airtight container until serving.

6. For the winter squash, preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Scoop out the seeds of the squash and cut into thick wedges while keeping the skin on. Place in a roasting dish, season with salt and pepper and drizzle about half of the olive oil.

7. Next, cover the dish tightly with aluminium foil and roast for about 20 to 30 minutes until you can pierce the flesh of the squash with the tip of a knife with no resistance. Cooking time will depend on the quality of the squash you have chosen.

8. Keep the burrata out at room temperature for an hour before serving — it is creamier and tastier like this rather than when it is cold.

9. To serve, cut the roasted squash into chunky pieces (it should still be warm), remove the skin and arrange nicely around the plates.

10. Dress the plate with a few spoons of mostarda and then drain the burrata from their liquid and place in the middle of the plate. Finally, sprinkle on the granola, garnish with some rocket leaves, and drizzle with the sweet vinegar reduction and the remaining olive oil. 


Chef Antony Jardella

Head Chef at Hillhouse Brasserie & The Duck Hook

Chef Tony Jardella
Chef Tony Jardella Image Credit: Supplied

What’s your ideal Valentine’s Day date?

Start early in the morning with a trip to the supermarket to start shopping for Valentine’s dinner ingredients. Before heading home, I would stop by a flower shop to pick up some blooms for the added touch, and in the evening, I would prepare a home-cooked meal paired with a favourite bottle of grape.

Dinner at home or a romantic day out?

Cooking is an expression of love so as a chef, I think that’s the most romantic thing you can do on Valentine’s Day. However, many would agree that it’s also more romantic without the washing up.

The one dish that perfectly sums up Valentine’s for you?

Nothing says I love you than a pot of perfectly simmered, carefully tended risotto.

Best advice to avoid V-Day kitchen disasters?

If cooking at home, keep it simple and cook with love. Cooking should be fun, not stressful, so organise all your items and allow yourself time to get things ready. My Nan told me the food tastes better if you smile while you cook.

Main Course

Wild Mushroom Risotto — Serves 2

Wild Mushroom Risotto_Hillhouse Brasserie-1581340932708


210g risotto rice (Arborio)

10g dried porcini mushrooms

50g brown button mushrooms

50g fresh wild mushrooms (or double up on brown button)

40g finely chopped white onion

40g finely chopped leek

1 ltr vegetable or chicken stock

50g butter

50g grated Parmesan cheese

Olive oil

Garnish (optional)

Flakes of Parmesan (you can use a peeler)

Roasted walnuts or chestnut

Chopped parsley


1. Slice all the mushrooms into bite sized pieces and gently fry with the butter for 3-4 minutes, once ready transfer to a bowl and set to one side.

2. Heat the stock in a saucepan, remove from heat, add the dried mushrooms, allow to steep.

3. In a heavy based, large frying pan, sweat the onions and leeks with some olive oil on medium high heat for 3-4 minutes or until the onion starts to change translucent, add all of the rice to the pan.

4. Using a spatula, mix the rice in and allow to heat up. Add a cup vegetable stock and stir. Once the liquid has been absorbed repeat with another half a cup of stock and continue until all the stock has been added (this should take around 20 minutes). Taste the rice to ensure it’s al dente — it should have a bit of a bite but not stick to your teeth. If more cooking is required turn the heat low and cook gently while continuing to stir regularly.

5. Add the cooked mushrooms, grated Parmesan and stir in well, the consistency should be fairly wet, but not runny. To thicken, turn up heat and allow to reduce down; to thin it out you can add a few tablespoons of water; and for extra richness you can add 40 grams more butter.

6. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

7. Spoon the risotto on to the centre of the plate and allow it to naturally collapse towards the edges. Drizzle with a little olive oil and garnish with Parmesan flakes, chopped parsley, roasted walnuts or even fresh black truffle.


Head Chef Margarita Vaamonde-Beggs

MasterChef, the TV Experience

Head Chef Margarita Vaamonde_MasterChef, the TV Experience-1581340919894

What’s your ideal Valentine’s Day date?

A surprise getaway! That would tick the two things I love the most: travelling and spending some quality time with my husband.

Dinner at home or a romantic day out?

Definitely a romantic day/dinner out with my husband! Can I bring my dog along too?

The one dish that perfectly sums up Valentine’s for you?

One of my all-time favourites would be a simple fondue — it’s delicious, fun to eat and the perfect finish to a romantic dinner.

Best advice to avoid V-Day kitchen disasters?

Prepare in advance. Don’t leave anything until the last minute, it always shows.


Blood orange and spicy brownie s’mores

Blood Orange S’mores_MasterChef, the TV Experience-1581340926657

Ingredients (yields 2 portions)

Spicy brownie

100g butter up

3 pieces chopped chili

56g of melted dark chocolate

80g sugar

1 whole egg

28g all-purpose flour

½ tsp baking powder

Mascarpone cream

50g of mascarpone

10g of sugar

20ml cream

Blood orange shards

4 tbsp blood orange juice

¾ cup sugar

Blood orange zest

Blood orange marshmallow

150g sugar

125ml blood orange puree

150ml glucose

17.5g beef gelatin

Blood orange sauce

50g blood orange puree

10g sugar

1 tsp corn starch


1. To make the spicy brownie, warm up the butter and add the chopped chili.

2. Let it infuse for 30 minutes before straining the pieces of chili out of the butter. Add melted dark chocolate and mix it in with the butter. Whisk the sugar with the egg until fluffy and then add it to the butter-chocolate mixture.

3. Once everything is well combined, add the flour and baking powder. Whisk well and pour the mixture into a greased baking tray and bake it for 12 minutes at 165 degrees Celsius. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

4. For the Mascarpone cream, combine all ingredients (mascarpone, sugar and cream) in a mixing bowl and whisk until the mascarpone is creamy and light.

5. For the blood orange crisp, add the blood orange juice, zest and sugar in a heavy bottomed pot. Place over medium heat until the sugar starts to dissolve. Avoid stirring the pan to avoid crystallisation. Once sugar is dissolved, turn up the heat and let it cook until the sugar turns into caramel, add the blood orange zest and mix to combine. Pour the mixture into a baking tray with parchment paper and let it cool down. Break it down into shards and keep it to one side for garnish

6. Marshmallow: Combine the sugar, blood orange puree and glucose in a pot and heat up to 107 degrees Celsius. Transfer the syrup into a mixing bowl and keep whisking until it’s warm. Add the rehydrated beef gelatin sheets to the warm syrup and keep whisking until the mixture is stiff and fluffy. Put the marshmallow into a piping bag with a large piping nozzle and reserve.

7. Blood orange sauce: Bring the blood orange puree to 65 degrees Celsius and add the sugar. Mix in corn starch and bring everything to boil until light gravy consistency.

8. Assembling the S’mores: Pipe a medium-sized circle of the marshmallow mix on a plate. Add one spoon of the mascarpone cream on it and some spicy brownie pieces. Proceed to pipe a large dome of marshmallow to cover the cream and brownie. Chill in the fridge for around one hour. To serve the S’mores, take the marshmallow from the fridge and torch the surface until it reaches a toasted dark brown colour. Place some of the blood orange crisps on top of the marshmallow, and scatter around some blood orange segments. Pour the sauce over the marshmallow and enjoy.