From world firsts to rare winks, chefs at Dubai’s Michelin-starred restaurants celebrate big wins

DUBAI: From the world’s first unlicensed restaurant to receive a Michelin star to one of the few Indian restaurants to earn a nod, Dubai is now home to a host of Michelin-starred restaurants.

Arab News caught up with a number of restaurant chefs to find out how they plan to celebrate and whether that means the heat in the kitchen is about to get hotter.

The chefs of 11 Woodfire, Torno Subito, Tresind Studio and Armani/Ristorante, all of whom have been awarded a star, described how it felt to be internationally recognized after the recent announcement that 11 restaurants in Dubai had been awarded a Michelin star — nine places had earned one star, while two restaurants had received two stars.

11 Woodfire Leader Akmal Anuar

The restaurant, located in Jumeirah, is the first unlicensed restaurant to earn a Michelin star.

Its leader Akmal Anuar described the achievement as “enormous”.

He said: “For me, being a Muslim, achieving it and being on stage with everyone proves that nothing is impossible. I feel overwhelmed. I’m really, really happy.”

Anuar plans to celebrate this milestone with his team next week.

“We are going to close one day and buy a cake. We will sit down, give a motivational speech and prepare for the new era. It (winning) wasn’t just me; it was my team. They all worked really hard for it,” he added.

11 Woodfire offers dishes such as Black Angus Steak, Jumbo Browned Butter Prawns, Japanese Eggplant and Chilean Sea Bass, while proudly committing to zero waste and following sustainable practices.

Bernardo Paladini, head of Torno Subito

Chef Bernardo Paladini’s intention with Torno Subito, located in the Palm Jumeirah, was “to have fun and open a daring Italian restaurant with excellent cuisine, quality ingredients and dynamism”.

He said: “In all honesty, it took us completely by surprise. We really did not expect it and it is the result of four years of hard work. I feel delighted, excited and proud. I still can’t believe it.”

The chef paid tribute to his team and stressed that the award was not just for him, but for the hardworking staff who help him on a daily basis.

Being a Michelin-starred restaurant will not cause Paladini to change its restaurant concept or prices.

“We will stay true to Torno Subito’s roots and maintain the restaurant’s identity. The pressure is good and we are very aware of what it means to have a Michelin star and we will do everything to keep it,” he added.

Paladini’s recommendation to diners is to try the restaurant’s tasting menu which includes all of its signature dishes such as cocktail di gamberi, rock lobster roll and Japanese beef.

As an internationally acclaimed cook, the chef’s best advice for home cooks was to experiment. “Anyone can cook great food, but when you’re able to show emotion and passion in food, that’s what makes all the difference.”

Himanshu Saini, the head of Tresind Studio

Few Indian restaurants have Michelin stars and that’s what chef Himanshu Saini of Nakheel Mall’s Tresind Studio is proud of.

He said: “It’s surreal. To be among the few Indian restaurants in the world to have one star is a great feeling. We strive to break perceptions and present Indian cuisine with a different perspective.

This recognition has boosted the chef and his team who now feel motivated to work harder. He wasted no time and immediately celebrated the award with his team after Tuesday’s awards ceremony at Dubai Opera.

Talent can be important for chefs, but Saini stressed that hard work beats him. “Work hard because that’s the only way to grow as a chef,” he added.

He noted that the bar for his diners’ expectations had now been raised.

“It’s a good thing because it just motivates us and keeps us on our toes to keep evolving,” he said.

Tresind Studio has already won the gong for the art of hospitality in the first Middle East and North Africa Top 50 Restaurants 2022 award from the World’s 50 Best Restaurants.

Giovanni Papi, the chef of Armani/Ristorante

The Armani Restaurant/Ristorante is located at the Armani Hotel Dubai.

The restaurant’s chef, Giovanni Papi, said he felt “extremely proud and emotional because a Michelin star is a dream that every chef pursues.

“We knew that Armani / Ristorante was invited for the Michelin guide reveal but (were not) sure of the outcome for our restaurant. But I am confident that we consistently deliver Armani/Ristorante’s exceptional service and dining experience,” he told Arab News.

The restaurant, which offers modern Italian cuisine in a luxurious atmosphere, is known for its signature dishes such as agnolotti del plin, a pasta typical of the Piedmont region of Italy, the fish dish filetto di scorfano and agnello al mirto, a lamb dish.

If you plan to book a table at the new Michelin-starred restaurant, the chef offers the chlorophyll risotto and Sicilian red prawns, as well as the Armani/Ristorante La Sfera dessert.

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