Dubai gets a taste of Ireland
We might live in the Middle East but top local chefs brought food lovers a real flavour of the Emerald Isle last weekend in the inaugural 'Taste of Ireland Green Box' competition.
Hosted at the Ibn Battuta Gate Hotel, the gala dinner event saw 12 finalists conjure up mouthwatering menus incorporating traditional Irish ingredients.
Chefs from a wide range of popular venues, including the seven-star Burj Al Arab, Jumeirah Zabeel Saray, Atlantis Hotel, Irish Village and Bonnington Hotel, worked over hot stoves in cooking bays to impress the judging panel and feed a hall full of foodies.
Imaginative dishes included variations on beef tartare, confit of lamb, scallops and salmon. The team from the Jumeirah Zabeel Saray were ultimately named overall winners of a closely fought contest.
Chef Uwe Micheel, president of the Emirates Culinary Guild - the UAE’s association of professional chefs, felt the competition format was a true challenge to kitchens.
He explained: “It is so difficult for contestants when cooking for a panel of judges and paying customers. There is pressure to impress and feed the guests, as well as convincing a jury.
“Strict guidelines on food make things a bit more challenging but this is typical for a chef. Think about it, sometimes we would like to have things but they are just not available or overpriced at a certain season. So a challenge like this is a lot like real, everyday life in the kitchen. I don’t like to use the word problem, I think challenge is a much more positive word and you learn from every one of them!”
Of the many ingredients in the ‘Green Box’ - carefully selected to showcase Irish produce - the chefs were duty-bound to select 33 for use in their menu. The Burj Al Arab team, for example, served up classic beef feather blade tartare, followed by a sumptuous shellfish suquet, 36-hour cooked lamb shoulder and an incredible Granny Smith apple in thyme panna cotta.
Chef Uwe was delighted with the food served up by the teams - but not surprised by the high standards.
The German chef, who is director of kitchens at Radisson Blu, said: “We had a broad range of techniques and dishes on show. That’s no surprise in this day and age - UAE chefs are second to none. I knew the teams and I expected this standard.”
Try a delicious dessert inspired by Irish produce
Apple and blueberry flaxseed crumble with rhubarb and Yoghurt Ice Cream and Ginger Honey
Recipe for 10 people
For The Apple Terrine
2.2kg Green Apple
For The garnish
20g Lemon Juice
50g Ginger Honey
For Poached Rhubarb
2 sticks Vanilla Beans
For Ice Cream
800g Full Fat Yoghurt
100g Heavy Cream
200g Poached Rhubarb
Make a caramel with 200g sugar, pour it in two moulds (26x9x9). Peel the apples, slice and lay them down in the mould.
Crumble: mix everything together with a paddle until the butter is well coated with dry ingredients. Keep it in freezer.
Poached rhubarb: bring the water, sugar, raspberry and vanilla bean to boil add the thinly cut rhubarb.
Rhubarb yoghurt ice cream: mix all the ingredients together, fill up the ice-cream maker container and keep it overnight in freezer. Use a mandolin to top the crumble garnish.