Says Viktor Stampfer who is bringing chefs and masters from all over the world to create the ultimate food festival at The Ritz-Carlton Dubai from tomorrow until Friday

One can say everything best over a meal.
- George Eliot, novelist

The Ritz-Carlton Dubai hosts its first Festival of Fine Dining from tomorrow until Friday. Chefs and masters are being flown in from all over the world to cook signature meals and talk about food as varied as caviar, chocolate, cheese and vinegar.

Two Michelin Stars chef Henri Bach will present the dinner on the first day. He has worked for 20 years under chef-patron Berthold Buhler whose popular restaurant, Residence in Essen, is constantly ranked seventh in Germany.

On Thursday, Michel Magada, chef-patron of Le Restaurant in Alsace, will create an Italian dinner. He has worked in The Dorchester and The Savoy in London, The Grand Hotel Quisana in Capri and in the three Michelin Star Gaultiero Marchesi in Milan (for eight years).

Tea master Michael Bentley will preside over afternoon tea. He has regularly served tea to royalty, politicians and filmstars during his 13 years at Claridges, and now with The Ritz London.

Yann Duytsche, chef patissier of Valrhona, will talk about chocolate and its thousand moods.

He is a veteran of several Michelin-starred restaurants including the three-starred Le Moulin De Mougins and is the co-author of Caprices de Chocolat. He trains, lectures and researches for Valrhona, the chocolate company.

Also on Thursday, Abdul Aziz Amiri of Caspian Pearl Company will discuss caviar, how to identify and savour it. He is an authority on the distribution and preparation of the delicacy.

Cheese master Giovanni Fiori will choose the cheeses for several meals. He is the owner of Guffanti Formaggi in Arona, Italy, a family business famous for its Gorgonzola for three generations. His knowledge of world cheeses will astound, says The Ritz-Carlton Dubai.

Dr G.H. Wiedemann will discuss the finer points of vinegar. The vinegar master has studied the history of vinegar, its creative uses and medicinal benefits for years.

Viktor Stampfer, executive chef of The Ritz-Carlton Dubai, is the man behind the hotel’s fine dining festival. “Fine dining is a combination of passion and best ingredients,” he says.

Here he talks about the festival, its themes and the guests it hopes to attract.


Why did you think of the Festival of Fine Dining? How does it fit in with Dubai’s general food culture?
Some simple pleasures in life are without comparison. A perfectly brewed cup of tea, for instance, or a sliver of beautifully aged cheese. Some people might prefer a dollop of the finest caviar, or perhaps a square of rich chocolate.

Food has always been one of life’s simplest pleasures and is enjoyed by people all over the world.

We decided to create the Festival of Fine Dining to show the city how much more there is to offer in terms of food.

International Michelin-starred chefs and experts from around the world have been invited to Dubai to showcase their talents and to introduce new levels of culinary excellence and experience to the region.

There has never been an event like this in Dubai before, and we are hoping to set a new trend for years to come.

Why have you chosen this time of the year?
We decided to hold the event at this time of the year as it is the start of the festive season, and what better way than to celebrate with a selection of the world’s finest food and beverages.

Why have you chosen these particular themes/segments?
Each expert was selected to represent a different aspect of the finest cuisine, and is considered to be one of the best in their fields. We have selected a group of international experts with a combination of unusual talents.

They include the tea master from the Ritz (in London), who is a veteran of some 40 years in the industry, and the vinegar master who has made a lifetime study of the history of vinegar and its creative uses.

Each expert brings something unique and interesting to the festival. We have also chosen themes that add to the refinement of the event, such as the caviar seminar and the exclusive dinners hosted by the Michelin-starred chefs.

Who are you hoping to attract to the festival?
We are hoping to attract mostly residents of Dubai who appreciate fine food and beverage. We are targeting individuals who have a definite passion for the culinary art, and who are eager to learn more about food.

Each of our specialists will be sharing their finest dishes and will reveal the passion and dedication behind their success.

Is this the first such festival at the Ritz-Carlton? Do you plan to host it every year?
Yes, this is the first fine dining festival, although the festival will become an annual event in the years to come. We are planning the next event in September 2005.

Reservations recommended for all events.

Wednesday, December 8
Dinner: Chef Henri Bach; 8pm in La Baie; Dh360 net including earlier reception.

Menu includes foie gras, pike perch and scallops and venison medallion.

Thursday, December 9
Caviar seminar: Abdul Aziz Amiri of Caspian Pearl Company; 1-2pm in The Salon; no charge.

Afternoon tea: Tea master Michael Bentley; 2-6pm in The Lobby Lounge; Dh96.

Vinegar seminar: Vinegar master Dr. G.H. Wiedemann; 3-4pm in The Plaza; no charge.

Chocolate presentation: Yann Duytsche of Valrhona; 4-6pm in The Salon; no charge.

Italian dinner: Chef Michel Magada with cheese selection by cheese master Giovanni Fiori; 8.30pm in La Baie; Dh360 net.

Menu includes foie gras, roasted lobster and knuckle of veal.

Friday, December 10
Brunch: 12.30-4pm on the Falcon Lawn; Dh250 net.

Chefs Viktor Stampfer, Henri Bach and Michel Magada rule the live cooking stations.

Cheese master Giovanni Fiori and chef patissier Yann Duytsche are also present. Menu includes brunch classics, fresh seafood and desserts. Plus more.

Afternoon tea: Tea master Michael Bentley; 2-6pm in The Lobby Lounge; Dh96 net.

Menu includes finger sandwiches, scones and clotted cream with chocolate surprises from Yann Duytsche.