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Dubai Chef: Troy Payne from The Pangolin

Words by Nathan Irvine

The head cook of The Pangolin, Dubai talks us through his culinary journey.

Australian chef, Troy Payne has only been in the UAE for little over six years but has already made a big impact on the place. Payne has embraced the country and worked closely with local farmers and producers to bring their products to his kitchens.

He's currently bringing his home-grown philosophy to The Pangolin at The Els Club where he is head cook. We caught up with him in his new digs to find out about his love of cooking and more.


What was the first dish you made from scratch?

It was a passionfruit sponge with my Nan. To me it is more of a memory cake. I was brought up watching my nan making sponges. She only used two forks to bind together the ingredients and never once used a whisk or a machine. I always thought to myself "when I'm older, I will attempt to recreate this".

Which country has had the biggest impact on your culinary skills?

There isn’t just one country that has had an impact. I’d say it is more of the heritage and tradition that I have experienced and learned from all the countries that I have travelled to. The biggest impact and influence on my culinary skills has to be from the grandmas and grandpas from all over the world who are loyal to their traditions. And the farmers who have been curing and preparing meat for centuries in the outback.

What advantages and challenges does Dubai's different cultures and tastes present to you and your team?

The advantages are the disadvantages and vice versa. With so many people from different cultures settling in Dubai, the city is filled with people who crave food and flavours from their home countries, but these obviously differ from country to country. Everyone has their own idea of how things are supposed to taste and be served. Like a kebab for instance. The concept of a kebab is different for everyone depending on which part of the world they are from. That is the biggest challenge for restaurants in Dubai - serving traditional food and being allowed, by the customer, to serve it how they want it  to be served.

The Pangolin It's interiors are light and airy.

How has the dining scene changed since you started out?

Talking specifically about the UAE dining scene, where I have been cooking for more than seven years now, I would say that diners are increasingly looking for more honesty and more value in the restaurants they are choosing. Now more than ever, they’re also looking for a restaurant that offers them a sense of community too.

What are the key ingredients to delivering the perfect breakfast for foodies?

That has to be creativity and honesty and offering dishes on the menu that sparks something a bit different within the traditional breakfast dishes. It is also offering something that people can’t easily make at home so it feels like a real treat when they eat out, as well as the food being wholesome and healthy so people feel great after eating it.

What star dish should everyone be able to make?

Everyone should be able to make fresh pasta at home. It is such a simple but delicious dish with so much history and tradition. I have always dreamt that one day I would see no bread or pasta on the supermarket shelves, eliminating all additives and preservatives from simple food that we should be able to make at home. Dreaming is free, they say.

The Pangolin at The Els Club, Dubai Sports City is open now.

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