Abu Dhabi: If the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach as they say then there is a good reason to be Abu Dhabi-bound this weekend – and the next – in celebration of the month of love.
The Love Food Festival 2017 that is set to be a gathering of the world’s top street food vendors will be held across two locations in the emirate: Al Ain between February 9 and 11, and at Umm Al Emarat Pak in the capital city between February 16 and 18. From classic British treats to the trailblasers of the USA to a selection of Singapore’s finest authentic street foods, the festival will celebrate food from as many as three continents.
As many as 10 of the UK’s best food trucks will be joined by an equal number of street food vendors from the US spearheaded by La Cocina, a non-profit organisation for small, emerging food entrepreneurs from San Francisco and the creators of the San Francisco Street Food Festival. Not to be outdone, Singapore, known as the ‘street food capital of the world’, is bring its famous Asian street food in collaboration with the Singapore Tourism Board.
The event will also feature the movers and shakers from the UAE street food scene along with activities and entertainment for the whole family to enjoy. Foodies can watch live cookery demonstrations by renowned chefs, enjoy workshops and presentations in the ever popular Tea & Cake section as well as catch some live music from top emerging talents. There will also be a kids play area and traditional Bedouin tent and falconry for those who wish to rest with a cup of fresh Arabic coffee. Also being featured is a screening of food-related films at festival’s outdoor cinema area.
Here’s a look at the festival’s line-up of star vendors and chefs:
BEST OF BRITAIN
The Cheese Truck
Showcasing and celebrating British cheeses in one of the most honourable ways possible is The Cheese Truck where you yuo can enjoy grilled cheese sandwiches.
Normally found trading with Alfie - a bright yellow, converted 1973 Bedford CF ice-cream van - The Cheese Truck has received many accolades for their obscenely oozing, cheesy creations.
Trading from a beautiful and iconic Citroen H Van, Churros Brothers are well known for bringing freshly cooked to order, traditional Spanish Churros served with Valor hot chocolate – 100 per cent organic and halal.
The Cheeky Italian
These guys take on the traditional staples of Italian food and give them a cheeky shake. Right out of a 1970’s Citroen Hy van.
Styling his outfit on the traditional British crab shacks found along the harbour of his home town in Folkestone South East England and taking it onto the road, Douglas Robertson-Ritchie has won plenty of affection and accolades for his soft shells crab burgers.
The Crema Caravan
The street food circuit is pretty saturated with innovative savoury meals on wheels, but the same creative zeal has not been applied enough to desserts. Until Crema Caravan entered the arena, that is.
Made of Dough
Made of Dough is the story of how two food-obsessed friends of Italian and Spanish heritage learnt the art of handling dough and authentic Neapolitan pizza making to become ‘London Pizza Festival 2015 Champions’.
The Other Side
Fried chicken is just one of those foods. When done justice it can be so good it’s dangerous… like when it’s brined boneless thigh for real depth and flavour; double breaded for extra crispy crunch; topped with a four-hour smoked honey butter and served between a potato bread bun... it’s almost reckless that the converted ambulance it is served from is no longer in service.
The Roadery’s chefs have found the magic in the ‘forgotten cuts’ of meat that deserve a place on our plates. Their British ‘nose to tail’ food is served from the hatch of a beautiful 1979 Renault Estafette van.
Donostia Social Club
When Paul first rolled up in his modified Citroen H Van tapas bar, we knew Donostia Social Club was a winner. This van is fully kitted out and set up as a proper mobile tapas bar, serving food that is inspired by Donostia in the Basque Country.
The Bell & Brisket
Bel Shapiro’s The Bell & Brisket offers the classic, old fashioned combination of salt beef, pickles and mustard, served street food style with a London twist.
BORN IN THE USA
Endless Summer Sweets
This family-run business brings the funnel cakes, the popular food found across North America at carnivals, fairs, sporting events and seaside resorts. German immigrants first brought these delicious cakes, made by deep frying doughnut batter in a circular pattern, so that the overlapping dough sticks together and turns golden-brown and served plain with powdered sugar, or with fresh whipped cream, strawberries and deep-fried oreos.
Harlem Seafood Soul Truck
Harlem Seafood Soul is a state of the art, eco-friendly mobile food kitchen specialising in gourmet seafood and traditional soul food staples. Owned by Tami Treadwell, this Harlem-based soul truck has a menu of culinary delights like shrimp and grits, delicious fish tacos and uptown po’boys.
This Detroit-based celebrity chef has fed award winning Hip Hop and R&B artists, actors, professional athletes, and dignitaries, specialising in his brand of amazing American, Asian, French and Caribbean recipes.
Sushi And Seoul
These creative, professionally trained sushi chefs mix it up in true American melting-pot style. Their Asian mash-ups of innovative sushi and Korean-Inspired dishes are usually found on the streets of Orlando Florida, but the UAE is going to get a taste of their shrimp on the bao and octopus skewers.
Sabores del Sur
Representing the Latinos of America and doing them proud, Sabores del Sur, literally translating as ‘Flavours of the South’, hand-makes traditional empanadas and alfajores – which have been described as the best cookies on earth.
The San Francisco Chronicle called La Cocina “the most important food business in San Francisco”. The non-profit organisation cultivates low-income immigrant women who are launching, growing and formalising food businesses, and has been doing so since 2005.
Chef Syrena may have lost her home to Hurricane Katrina, but it hasn’t stopped her from following her dream and slinging her very special soul food, like shrimp corn dogs, crawfish quesadilla and cajun loaded fries.
The Peached Tortilla
This extremely popular food truck from Austin Texas is all about tacos and sliders with an Asian-Southern twist.
3 Fils Restaurant
Before arriving in Dubai, Chef Akmal Anuar was head chef of his native Singapore’s top restaurant, Iggy’s, ranked number 12 in the San Pellegrino list of the world’s 50 best restaurants.
A self-professed rebel, chef Damian D’Silva is passionate about the heritage food of Singapore and has made it his mission to ensure the cuisine’s survival in this fast-paced world. Learn how to make the famous, original Singapore Laksa from a true master.
Bjorn Shen is one of Singapore’s most notorious chefs, known for his spontaneous, sometime outrageous cooking and for always putting substance before style. He also happens to have a lot of style too and revels in taking a rebellious, creative attitude towards cooking.
Chef Shen Tan
Chef Shen Tan exchanged her corporate job for a hawker’s apron at the iconic Maxwell Food Centre, launching Madam Tan’s Nasi Lemak. Her Nasi Lemak - a traditional Malay rice dish that is synonymous with the culinary heritage of Singapore and Malaysia- soon became legendary and she has gone on to become a major influencer of the Mod Sin (Modern Singaporean) food movement.
Kerbside Gourmet – with chef Luan Lin in the driver’s seat – is Asia’s first gourmet food truck dishing out wholesome, fresh, soul food packed with goodness.
This family-run institution specialises in traditional Malay food. From its Hawker Centre in Singapore it isbringing the popular noodle dish Mee Sian to the UAE.
Kway Guan Huat Joo Chiat Popiah is a famous, family-owned street food eatery preserving the tradition of hand making popiah ‘skins’, a skill that has been passed down through generations.
Popiah is a hand-rolled spring roll.
The festival will feature a star-studded line-up of celebrity chefs who will demonstrate how they get their signature taste, share cookery secrets and tricks of the trade.
An award-winning celebrity chef and restaurateur who specialises in Italian, vegetarian and seafood cuisine, Zilli first learnt Italian home cooking from his mother, before going on to launch some of London’s most exciting and innovative restaurants: Signor Zilli, Zilli Green, Zilli Café and Zilli Bar and his Italian seafood restaurant, Zilli Fish, which was a Soho institution for over 15 years.
Andrew Dickens is an actor, presenter and chef and is the ringmaster of the festival’s Chef Demo theatre. Along with his theatre and television appearances, Dickens is a knowledgeable and engaging cook and has vast experience of presenting and hosting some of the biggest and most prestigious live events both in the UK and internationally.
A champion of British food and family-style cooking, Bates is the gaffer of specialist food company ‘Eat My Pies’ and brings the best of British food back to the public, including his award-winning signature cold-raised pies to classic tarts, pies, Scotch eggs and, of course, some tasty puddings.
A Syrian Chef and restaurateur who specialises in Aleppian cuisine and modern, contemporary Arabic cuisine, Orfali has over 15 years of experience in the culinary profession and hosted three ground-breaking cooking shows on the Fatafeat channel: Matbakhna Al Arabi, Modern Arabic Cuisine and the Hakawi show.
A food writer and television presenter with a passion for teaching people the world over how to cook the Arabic dishes she adores, Husseini hosted one of the most popular Arabic cooking shows in the Middle East Sohbe Taibe showcasing her unique style and earning her a loyal following among her audience.