“My main food philosophy, having travelled a lot, is to focus on local ingredients, local specialities and local knowledge, and build from there.” – Executive Chef Iain Joyce.
It’s no secret that when you inject new blood into something that’s constantly evolving and growing, there’s going to be a lot of ideas and welcomed change. For the Movenpick Hotel Bahrain, where food is at the forefront of many great evenings out as well as most special and social occasions, having a fresh outlook on its culinary offerings is a reason to rejoice. In this case, it’s the appointment of their new Executive Chef, Iain Joyce, that’s both exciting and intriguing. He’s worked all over the world, from New Zealand to Djibouti, China, Jordan, Bermuda and England, so if there’s one chef who understands, and appreciates, different cultures and their foods, it’s Chef Iain.
“My main food philosophy, having travelled a lot, is to focus on local ingredients, local specialities and local knowledge, and build from there,” Chef Iain tells us. “It’s my first time with Movenpick and I really get the feeling that this hotel is not being arrogant. It’s not saying “we’re going to do this, and we’re going to teach the Bahrainis how to eat” – it’s more like – “we want to be where people want to come, whether they’re from Australia, England, Bahrain, Saudi or anywhere” – the Movenpick really tries to capture that and I really want to incorporate the local into our dishes on the menu, as much as we can,” he adds
With that said, Chef Iain’s aim is to always find a good balance between the local and the innovative, something that is clearly illustrated through the two starters that come out to our table; Tequila Cured Salmon with avocado and coriander, and Chilled Watermelon with goat cheese panna cotta and lime basil oil. There’s much to be said about a chef who can pair together the most unexpected flavours, like these, so flawlessly. We practically fight to fork the first dish and once it’s passed our lips there are nothing but happy shrieks of delight at how beautifully light and tasty the salmon is. Equally great is the watermelon dish, which stands out for its freshness.
“I’m more of a flavours person,” Chef Iain says. “The great thing and also the most challenging thing about a hotel environment is that you have a lot of different nationalities and people coming in. And they all have their own opinion; everyone is a critic as well as a guest, so you have to try to find a happy medium and tailor certain flavours,” he admits. Our mains are not only visually appealing, but they, again, have our knives and forks at the ready. Norwegian Salmon with braised fennel and smoked paprika cream; Prime New Zealand Beef Fillet with spiced tomatoes, candied soy and creamed potato; and Seared Local Sherry with prawn tortellini, olive oil pumpkin puree and shellfish cream. How’s that for the very first tasting he’s done in Bahrain? We were definitely impressed!
“I love seafood, which is another reason why I’m so happy to be in Bahrain,” Chef Iain smiles. It’s no wonder then that the salmon was a big winner; cooked to tender perfection, it melted in the mouth and was seasoned exceptionally well. The beef was rich and delicious, and the key to eating this dish was to make sure that you got a little piece of every ingredient on your fork – exquisite. It was the delicate pumpkin puree that really made the tortellini pop – another flavour-packed dish that we loved.
When it came to dessert, we were thrilled to learn that Chef Iain had brought with him, from his previous role in China, a few kilos of the newest fruit fad – the Goji Berry. It’s one of the most “in” foods that carries great benefits like healthy skin, boost to the immune system and eye protection, amongst other things. We get a taste with the utterly divine Swiss Chocolate and Goji Berry Torte with bursts of green tea and orange. THERE. ARE.NO.WORDS. Every bite of this intricate dessert is eaten with gusto, and only our constant spoon-to-slate action occasionally breaking the silence.
Next up is what was, hands down, the biggest ‘wow’ puller of all the dishes we tried; Black Cherry and Yoghurt Cremeux with a crisp meringue, cassis and vanilla sauce. It’s not even that the presentation was spectacular (which, by the way, it really was), it’s more to do with the fact that this dessert, single-handedly, converted everyone at the table who didn’t really like meringue, into die-hard meringue lovers. We later learn that Chef Iain’s trick is to not cook the meringue in the oven and let it settle instead, which gives it a gorgeous, crumbly-soft texture – simply, love at first bite.
With Movenpick Hotel Bahrain’s numerous buffet and themed nights, expect to see and taste superb flavours through live cooking stations and a la carte dishes. If what we tried is anything to go by, Chef Iain Joyce is going to be making some serious foodie movements in Bahrain.
GO: Visit www.movenpick.com/en/middleeast/ bahrain or call 1746 0000 for reservations and more information on dining offers at the hotel