FOOD & DRINK
Dubai Chef: Christopher Lester
Words by Nathan Irvine
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The Executive Chef of Caesars Bluewaters Dubai talks inspirations, star dishes and the Dubai dining scene.
In a new series for EDGAR, we talk to the people behind the scenes that make the UAE's foodie scene such a world beater.
First up is Executive Chef of Caesars Bluewaters Dubai, Christopher Lester. The well-travelled chef has seen and done it all in Dubai and talks us through the changes he's seen in the industry, the cooking memories and dishes the contemporary chap should be able to make.
The United Kingdom. It’s where it all started. I moved to London at the age of 16 to pursue a career in the culinary industry, and I’ve been fortunate enough to work with some of the UK’s greatest chefs ever since.
This is what has set the benchmark and what’s given me the opportunity to travel across the world and cook in the finest kitchens.
My earliest memories of cooking go back to when I would bake cakes with my mother, the first of which was a Victoria sponge cake. The best bit was licking the batter out of the bowl.
I think most chefs find their love of cooking comes from their parents or grandparents, back when our families used to cook meals from scratch using authentic flavours and textures using mainly fresh, local ingredients that were available to them.
Chefs will typically bring with them a wealth of experience from different cultures around the world, which explains why there are so many authentic restaurants. But trying to recreate such honest and fresh dishes in the Middle East is always a challenge with so little produced here.
This has improved a lot in recent years with much better supply lines and more home-grown produce becoming available, but regional seasonality and a fresh supply line will always be a challenge here in the Middle East.
Wow, the dining scene in Dubai has changed dramatically since I first arrived. I think it’s gone through a shift over the years, with restaurant acquisitions playing an important role in the F&B scene.
We are also seeing a lot of homegrown talent and homegrown F&B concepts with incredibly high standards of quality that have developed into international brands, which is a testament to how strong the F&B industry has become.
I believe the key ingredient is quite simply to offer the freshest possible ingredients and dishes. People who have been in Dubai for a while are still very much enjoying the brunch scene, but I believe that for many, the focus has shifted to wanting a really high standard of food.
Keeping the food offering a key focus is essential for foodies who are keen on sampling the cuisine and talent that the restaurant has to offer.
My cheeky side wants to say, ‘just an omelet’ as it’s always handy for breakfast! But really, there are many great dishes that can ‘wow’ your guests. We went to a friend’s for dinner recently and had a great curry. It’s a relaxed and sociable dish, which is great post the hectic days I have as an executive chef.
Another one would be a classic Beef Wellington. But why go through the trouble when we have the perfect Wellingtons next door at Gordon Ramsay Hell’s Kitchen!
The newly-launched FamilyFest Brunch at Bacchanal is on every Friday with package prices from AED 300.
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