On his la test visit t o the city , celebrity chef David Myers cooked up a storm at Taste o f Dubai. FACT caught up with the self -proclaimed “Gypsy Chef” t o learn more about his famed restaurants, Bleu Blanc, BASTA! and Poppy, all located a t the 5-star Renaissance Downtown Hotel Dubai…
As a world-renowned chef, how important is it for you to be involved in food festivals like Taste of Dubai?
Thanks for saying that by the way – very nice compliment (laughs). I love to be a part of these local events that happen where we’re able to get out and mingle with our guests and would-be guests. It’s almost like being on a tour and trying to publicise what you’re doing, who you are and talk about it – believe me, there is nothing I love more than talking about what we do. I’m still passionate about our restaurants and a huge believer in our concepts and our team so to be able to get out and talk to people that are in love with food, in a place like Dubai, that’s pretty cool.
We love the fresh “farm to table” concept at Bleu Blanc – can you share with us your inspiration behind this venue and concept – and has it lived up to your expectations?
First of all, I couldn’t be happier with Bleu Blanc. What we’ve done, not only from a design standpoint, but also the cuisine and service, and a work standpoint – has really met our expectations, even gone beyond. It was inspired by my home in the South of France that was passed down from the family generations and it’s a place where I bring all my friends over and I cook dinners. A lot of the old vintage items are still there which were passed down through the family, silverware and candelabras, chandeliers and even the old part where we do the live-fire cooking – all that’s still there. But then there are some modern touches, so that’s what this whole restaurant has been inspired after. And that’s a story by the way – I don’t have a home in the South of France – but that’s what I envisioned for Bleu Blanc.
What can diners expect to taste and enjoy when dining at one of your venues – what are some of the signature dishes you serve?
What they can expect to find is something that is really authentic to the region but done in a bit of a modern way with the best ingredients that you could possibly get. Whether it’s our pizza in BASTA! which is inspired by Naples, or a pasta inspired from Rome – my favourite place – it’s truly a Roman pasta. These are the things that are really important for us when we’re creating dishes. Bleu Blanc is all about Southern French cooking over a grill, so a signature dish at Bleu Blanc would be the Grilled King Crab Leg with butter, or any of our steaks that are cooked over the different woods, which is absolutely beautiful or the Lobster Risotto.
What’s the greatest honour or compliment you’ve received as a chef?
Oh wow. Well, I’ve been fortunate enough to get a lot of awards, which is always an honour that our team and the restaurants are doing something right. From Michelin to James Beard and even here in town with various magazines, those are all really great things to achieve. But, really what it comes down to is when we see guests come in, they’re happy, and then they come back. There’s nothing that quite beats that. All the accolades are important and it’s what we’ve worked towards, and it helps us measure ourselves. But, at the end of the day, we better make our guests who come through, happy.
You’re a busy man – running restaurants around the world – do you still enjoy the grind?
Yes! I’m thankful that I do still enjoy the grind. I do love getting on a plane and flying to Singapore, flying to Dubai, flying to Tokyo, flying to L.A, and checking in at the restaurants, seeing the guests – that’s actually the highlight of my day. And I do enjoy the other aspects of the business and the development – I thrive on creating. So, when we get a new deal, or we’re pioneering something for a new market, you come alive on that – it’s great. To come back to existing restaurants and see the guests, that’s the happy moment, the reward for all the work that we’re doing.
What matters more – taste or presentation?
I think they both go hand in hand, and why compromise more on one for the other? Have great presentation with something that tastes great too. I find that when you buy better and better ingredients, the less you have to do to them to make them look great.
Do you have any quick advice for young budding chefs?
Persevere number one, Read everything you can. And don’t try to be the greatest chef in one day. Enjoy what you’re doing – love it. You don’t have to start a business and the next day think that you’re the number one chef in the world. It’s about enjoying your craft, enjoying you cooking, having that passion of seeing the dish you created enjoyed by the guest. That’s what it’s all about and don’t forget that. All the rest will follow, you just focus on the basics and loving what you do. ✤
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