Image Credit:

Taste of Abu Dhabi returns for the third year with a line-up of celebrity chefs, lots of food and entertainment from November 10 to 12 at Zayed Sports City.

“[You can expect] almost as much fun as we’ve had the last couple of years. Some new dishes and lots of fun,” said South African chef Jenny Morris, who says she is “absolutely in love with the UAE food scene”.

“The beautiful Arabic cuisine is also very much global cuisine and you can get almost anything you feel like — whether I want Chinese, I want Thai, I want Arabic or Lebanese. It’s got something for everybody,” she said.

British chef Ed Baines, who is attending the festival for the first time, says he’s looking forward to the “cooking demonstrations and a cook-along at the Chef’s Theatre”.

“What you can expect is a very lively presentation, getting forward my food philosophy, how to run a successful restaurant businesses and how to entertain,” Baines told Gulf News tabloid!.

Egyptian TV chef Tarek Ebrahim, along with Mohammad Orfali, his fellow chef from Fatafeat TV shows, will hold cooking challenges and demonstrations to cook the perfect steak among other dishes.

“I will demonstrate my personal style of cooking — simple and easy, but delicious. [Food] is very much like music. There is harmony, there’s flavour. At the same time it’s not rocket science. There’s no molecular cuisine. You just need to come to see it,” Ebrahim said.

Ebrahim, also a food trainer on the Egyptian Olympics team, specialises in meat handling and its cooking techniques and has been training culinary professionals on the same. He is currently working for Meat and Livestock Australia besides being an advocate for Australian meat. He will share this expertise at the festival, he said.

“The new features [this year] are the Delicio & Noor Cooking Challenge, where participants will cook along with the chef and at the end, pick the best dish, and the Etihad Taste of the World, which is a competition that will see 10 handpicked chefs from across the world compete with each other,” said Chloe Winstanley, marketing manager at Turret Media, the organisers of the festival.

However, it’s however not just the food that will see a few changes at the festival. Entertainment activities have been increased keeping in mind families.

“We will have Bounce [trampoline park] at the venue, apart from the dedicated kids play area. Plus they can participate in treasure hunts. The new Tea Club Premier Lounge is an alcohol-free, family friendly VIP area which will offer a wide variety of teas. For entertainment this year will see Bjorn Again, an Abba spoof band, which is extremely popular in Abu Dhabi, headlining the show,” said Winstanley. “Moreover, the move to Zayed Sports City will not just bring the festival into the heart of the city, it will make access easier with more parking space.”

Chefs to look out for


There are close to 30 chefs participating at the festival this year. But here are few must-meets:

Jenny Morris

The South African celebrity chef is known for her cooking shows, such as Jenny & Reza’s Fabulous Food Academy, and her bubbly personality. Nicknamed the Giggling Gourmet, Morris also judged the African instalment of Food Network’s popular culinary contest Chopped South Africa. A writer of four cookbooks, she was the first to start a cooking school for non-professional cooks in South Africa.

Catch her at: Delicio & Noor Cooking Challenge on Thursday (7pm), Friday (6.30pm), Saturday (2.30pm); Etihad Chef’s Theatre with Joshua Stanzl on Friday (5.30pm).

Ed Baines

He is the chef and owner of Randall & Aubin restaurant, champagne and oyster bar in London’s Soho. He has been part of the hugely successful TV show Britain’s Best Dish apart from having dedicated programmes including Lunch with Ed Baines and Ed Baines Entertains. The chef, who believes food is not just for taste but for “fun and entertainment”, has written two cookbooks and is currently working on a third book.

Catch him at: Delicio & Noor Cooking Challenge on Thursday (8pm), on Friday (3.30pm) and on Saturday (3.30pm); Etihad Chef’s Theatre on Thursday (7pm), on Friday (5.30pm) and on Saturday (7.30pm).

Sanjeev Kapoor

He is one of India’s finest and most popular chefs having pioneered food on television in the country. Today he’s known the world over not just for the food he serves but through his own channel, FoodFood, and as one of the judges on the beloved television challenge MasterChef India. In the UAE he has a number of restaurants including Signature by Sanjeev Kapoor, Options and The Yellow Chilli.

Catch him at: Etihad Chef’s Theatre (8pm), Friday (6.30pm) and Saturday (2.30pm); the Delicio & Noor Cooking Challenge on Friday and on Saturday at 4.30pm.

Pascal Aussignac

The Michelin-starred French chef, restauranteur and executive chef at Club Gascon, draws inspiration from his homeland of Gascony for his cooking. Having trained with French master chefs Gerard Vie, Alain Dutournier and Guy Savoy, Aussignac’s distinct flourishes include edible flowers. He also known to having developed the concept of “small plates” or smaller portions. Not only has he retained the Michelin star for 14 years, he was awarded the Restaurant Chef at the Craft Guild of Chefs Awards in 2013.

Catch him at: Etihad Chef’s Theatre on Friday at 4.30pm.

Tarek Ebrahim

He has won several gold and silver medals at culinary competitions and was twice named the Primer Chef of America by the American Dairy Association.

With more than 30 years of cooking experience in the US and the Middle East, he is the star of Fatafeat TV shows 100 Macaroni and Min Misr.

Catch him at: Delicio & Noor Cooking Challenge with Chef Mohammad Orfali on Thursday (9pm), Friday (2.30pm) and Saturday (5.30pm); Etihad Chef’s Theatre on Friday (3.30pm) and Saturday (8.30pm).

Restaurants


17 top restaurants from the UAE will be present at Zayed Sports City throughout the weekend to offer exclusive menus. These are:

- Teatro

- Royal Orchid

- Sho Cho

- Flooka

- Nolu’s Cafe

- Bu!

- Tamba

- The Sportsman’s Arms

- Loca

- Punjab Grill

- JW Steakhouse

- Catch

- Velocity

- Al Fanar Restaurant & Cafe

- Baker’s Kitchen

- Melius

- Barfly By Buddha-Bar

Other highlights


Taste the World

Etihad Airways will host the final instalment of the competition, where 10 chefs will compete to create dishes inspired by the airline’s “culinary vision”.

The Hub VIP Lounge

A VIP Ticket (Dh170 and Dh190) gives you access to The Hub VIP Lounge, where you can take a break from the festival and relax with two complimentary drinks (grape and house beverages), and three food vouchers to be used for three dishes from participating restaurants. Children are allowed into the lounge when accompanied by an adult.

Tea Club Premier Lounge

This is an alcohol-free, family friendly area, a concept developed by the Bahraini entrepreneurial mother and son duo Naima Mattar and Fayadh Al Dosr. The Tea Club ticket (Dh130 and Dh150) includes various blends and fusions of tea from around the world. It is recommended that visitors bring money to sample dishes from the participating restaurants. Dishes cost between Dh15 to Dh30 each.

Family Treasure Hunt

Take part in the family treasure hunt. It’s free to enter and participants can sign up at the venue.

The Kids’ Zone

Children can choose to play at The Play Lab or decorate cupcakes and cookies at The Food Lab or enhance their knowledge at The Science Lab, along with a bit of art. All activities are free. For Dh25 for 15 minutes, they can expend some energy at Bounce.

The music

Watch out for Bjorn Again, the light-hearted satirical Abba spoof band, created by Australian director and musician Rod Stephen. Catch them at the Mercedes-Benz Mainstage on Thursday at 9.30pm.

After a long stint in Qatar and Bahrain, 4TheMusic — comprised of Jabu Magagula, Peter-John Frans and Elton Frans — are back at Madinat Jumeirah, having made appearances at Taste of Abu Dhabi all three years. Catch them at the Mercedes-Benz Mainstage on Thursday at 5, 6 and 7pm; on Friday at 7.30, 8.30 and 9.45pm; and on Saturday at 3.30, 4.30 and 5.30pm.

Tickets


Standard tickets start at Dh120 and includes entry to the event, two beverage vouchers and access to all festival features. The event will open from 4-11pm on Thursday, November 10; noon to 11pm on Friday; and noon to 10pm on Saturday. For more, go to tasteabudhabi.com.