DiningMichael Ellis on the global food trends behind Jumeirah’s menus

Our Chief Culinary Officer talks us through the tastiest trends in dining

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The man tasked with perfecting our restaurants, and championing the great food at Jumeirah, our Chief Culinary Officer, Michael Ellis, has a unique perspective on gastronomy. During an illustrious career, Ellis has had many roles in the food industry, spending almost a decade sampling dishes at some of the world’s finest restaurants as the global director of the Michelin Guides – a position in which he oversaw the prestigious food awards. Who better to ask about the world’s most exciting dining trends, and how you might sample them in a Jumeirah restaurant soon. 

 

Cooking with locally sourced ingredients

I want to start using locally produced biodynamic or organic products – there are companies growing that kind of produce in Dubai now. We’ve already started to introduce locally produced and sustainable ingredients – such as organic fruit and vegetables, locally farmed fish and home-grown oysters – into our cooking. And as we increase this approach, and can give the owners of these enterprises certain volume commitments, they have agreed to invest and grow more. For me, that’s a great story.

Salad on the plate at Jumeirah Saadiyat Island Resort restaurant

 

Smoking and pickling

Open-fire cooking is a big trend happening now. I visited a place in Shoreditch, London called Brat, where they cook like this – very successfully. The restaurant has an open wood fire grill and the whole ethos there is very cool. It’s a trend that is catching on across Europe as well. There's a place called Asador Extebarri near San Sebastian in Basque country that offers a similar style of cooking. 

Alongside, you have the smoking trend - a process that goes back to the 15th- and 16th-century technique of smoking things with hay, salting them and curing them. Historically, this was done to preserve food because there was no refrigeration, but now the modern focus is about creating really interesting flavours. Pickling and brining are becoming increasingly popular techniques (think kimchi), as well as using fermentation as a process.

 

South American-Asian fusion

Although it’s a relatively new concept to most of us, Nikkei has actually been around for a while. Nikkei cuisine originated in Peru – which has a relatively large Japanese community – and it combines South American flavours with Japanese  techniques. You can experience hamachi tuna sashimi with jalapeños, for example, a spicy tuna tartar on fried rice cubes, or miso-marinated aubergine served with tempura langoustines. This is the cuisine that we’re showcasing at Summersalt. It was initially a pop-up restaurant, but it worked so well that we're now in the process of moving it to a permanent location.

Jumeirah Burj Al Arab Summersalt menu steak salad_6-4

 

Meat-free dining

We already have vegetarian options in all of our restaurants, but meat-free dining is really becoming a trend in Dubai. We want to focus on offering healthy meat-free options for our guests, not only because it’s trendy, but because it’s the right thing to do. 

 

Reducing single-use plastic

It’s not strictly a dining trend - but single-use plastic is a huge, huge issue in the restaurant and hospitality world and it's another thing we’re dealing with. Our Saadiyat Island resort is pioneering this work at Jumeirah and does a great job already. They have no single-use bottles at the resort. When you check in, they give you a bottle to reuse, which you can then fill up at different water points around the hotel. In terms of sustainability, we also have some fun compostable drinks coasters with tiny seeds embedded in them so you can take them home, plant and water them, and grow tomato plants out of them.

Front view of the Jumeirah Saadiyat Island Resort