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FOOD & DRINK

Dubai Chef: Uros Mitrasinovic from 21grams

Words by Nathan Irvine

Chef Uros Mitrasinovic talks us through his career so far

Balkan fare is somewhat underrepresented in the UAE. But thankfully, 21grams has established itself as a trusted place to indulge in the eclectic cuisine. The urban bistro has been a mainstay in Umm Suqeim, Dubai for a number of years now. Such is the popularity, 21grams is set to move to a much larger home at the top of the new Meyan Mall, which will have a terrace area that overlooks the Burj Al Arab.

Providing the culinary excellence in the kitchen will be chef Uros Mitrasinovic. We spoke to him about his career so far and Dubai's changing foodie scene.

21 Grams The savoury delight that is spanakopita

What was the first ever dish you made from scratch?

Quiche Lorraine was one of the first dishes I remember making from scratch. It was also one of the first baked dishes I ever made so I admit it was a little daunting to tackle, but my grandma passed down a great, failsafe recipe, so it turned out really well.

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

I can’t say there is a country that had a definitive influence on my cooking, as mostly it was people close to me - either family members or people I worked with. They were the ones to show me the values of tradition, but allow me the room to embrace a modern culinary world at the same time.

Dubai is a melting pot of different cultures and tastes – what advantages and challenges does this offer to you and your team?

Putting together and maintaining a skilled, reliable team of people from many different cultures is something of a challenge. But when you make it work - it’s a blessing. We travel because we want to learn about other cultures, but here in Dubai, you have the whole world in your hands. If you choose to utilise this in the right way, you can reach out to diverse cultures and understand and appreciate their values, by simply talking and listening to your team members.

21 Grams The team in their soon-to-be new home at Meyan Mall

How has the dining scene changed since you started out?

The line between fine and casual dining is finer than ever. Fine dining became more casual, yet casual dining became more refined. Going out for breakfast, a meal that was traditionally was enjoyed at home, has become as popular as lunch and dinner, which has been a distinct shift. Also, guests have become more exposed to great dining experiences around the world and as a result have higher expectations in terms of innovation and trends – this therefore brought different challenges to restaurants to unquestionably meet these expectations. A chef always needs to appreciate an industry in flux, and move with changes, whilst also maintaining values and upholding traditions – a balancing act. 

What do you feel is essential to be a successful restaurant right now?

Well beside the obvious F&B harmony of food, service, culture and location, I believe transparency is a gamechanger for restaurants. Customers are more educated than ever before. They know what they want, and they demand transparency. Creating a transparent business with a supportive community is the recipe for success. 

What star dish should everyone be able to make?

Soup is a must for every household as it’s such a versatile dish and is integral to many different cultures. I still remember the smell of our family soup being prepared on a Sunday morning. I recommend you master bone broths first, and then move on to cream vegetable soups. The possibilities are endless – it’s a simple and healthy dish, and a great one to have in your repertoire.

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