DiningHow Jumeirah leads the way in culinary trends

We know gourmet globetrotters love to stay ahead of the culinary curve, which is why Jumeirah is committed to identifying and embracing the food trends of today and tomorrow

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When it comes to creating standout menus for discerning diners, our Chief Culinary Officer Michael Ellis is an expert. From plant-based dishes to zero-waste initiatives, he shares the restaurant trends that are currently on his radar before offering a glimpse of the newly opened French Riviera restaurant at Jumeirah Al Qasr.

 

Jumeirah Group Chief Culinary Officer Michael Ellis

 

Plant power

“One of the biggest trends our food and beverage teams are continuing to see is a move towards vegetarian and vegan menu items,” says Michael. As a result, plant-based dishes have become a top priority for Jumeirah’s culinary teams, who are keen to demonstrate that not eating meat doesn’t have to mean settling for salads and steamed vegetables. “As more and more people realise that plant-based food is not only good for your health but good for the planet as well, we want to respond with offerings that are both delicious and appealing,” he says.

 

Seasonal and sustainable 

Another trend that’s motivated by environmental awareness is people’s preference for locally grown and seasonal ingredients. As a result, Jumeirah sources fruit and vegetables from local organic farms where possible, as well as salmon and hammour (one of the UAE’s favourite fish varieties), which are sustainably reared at local fisheries, and gourmet Dibba Bay Oysters that are grown in the pristine waters of Northern Fujairah by the Middle East’s first shellfish farm. “Given the number of guests we feed each day, we unfortunately can’t use locally grown produce for all of our needs, but we are certainly heading in that direction,” says Michael. “The move to seasonal and local ingredients makes huge sense – for both economic as well as environmental reasons – and we will continue to pursue this goal.”

In addition, Michael acknowledges that tackling food waste is just one of the ways Jumeirah is embracing sustainability. “There is no question that the reduction of food waste has become a real topic of concern for us,” he says. “We have embarked on an exciting pilot project with a new company called Winnow Solutions, which provides revolutionary AI and machine learning systems that use video cameras, weighing scales and analytical software to enable the kitchen team to identify where they can reduce food waste. It has already started showing positive results and we are convinced it will continue to ramp up.”

 

New culinary concepts

From family favourites to dishes designed with adventurous eaters in mind, coming up with new concepts is an ongoing part of the menu development process at Jumeirah properties around the world. As Michael says: “One of the key roles of the Food & Beverage teams at Jumeirah is to come up with new concepts and dishes, which might mean devising something totally different or taking an existing trend and adding an interesting twist.”

Most recently, the team continued its Mediterranean odyssey with the opening of a stunning oceanfront restaurant at Jumeirah Al Qasr. Called French Riviera, Dubai’s newest dining address promises all the culinary glamour of the south of France, and was inspired by the time Michael spent working in that region. “My memories are still fresh – stunning coastal fishing villages, fabulous farmer’s markets offering incredible local products such as just-caught fish, and superb fruits and vegetables. French Riviera will transport you to this place of unmatched tastes and sensations.”

This new addition joins Italian-focused Rockfish, where Chef Marco Garfagnini’s dishes are inspired by a culinary voyage from his coastal Tuscan roots to working at restaurants in London, Paris and New York. While at Jumeirah Mina A’Salam’s beachside restaurant Shimmers, Chef Roberto Rispoli draws on his experience at renowned Michelin-starred restaurants Il Carpaccio and Mavrommatis to create truly inventive Greek-inspired dishes, featuring classic ingredients such as feta cheese, green olives, braised lamb and grilled octopus.

Shimmers uses classic Greek ingredients

 

Michael says he loves it when a chef can bring their experiences to dishes and add their own personal signature. “This is probably the most exciting part of our jobs, coming together and using our collective experiences to think up something new and delicious,” he says.

And when it comes to adding a twist to a traditional dish, Chef Christian Goya’s dishes at Kayto in Jumeirah Al Naseem reflect a tantalising blend of Peruvian and Japanese cuisine known as ‘Nikkei’. “Some of his creations –­ like the Okonomiyaki savoury crepe – are really unique. As are his inspired versions of salmon tataki with miso karashi and Saikyo miso black cod,” says Michael.

Kayto's inventive dishes

 

Creating the right atmosphere

The final trend identified by Michael is the continued move towards casual but refined dining. “That means designing restaurant surroundings to have a fun vibe, with great music and flattering lighting. As a result of this more laidback approach to enjoying food, we adapted Kayto, Rockfish, Shimmers and some of our other restaurants to ensure they offer a relaxed and welcoming aesthetic. French Riviera will also have a really informal but special ambiance.”

Jumeirah Mina A Salam Shimmers exterior

 

And making diners feel at ease has never been more important as restaurants around the world prepare to reopen. “We want to ensure strict adherence to government and regulatory guidelines, in order to ensure the safety and health of our guests and staff,” says Michael. “As people feel more and more comfortable going out to restaurants, I hope it will feel like they are rediscovering a forgotten pleasure. We already experienced this at our beachfront properties during the Eid holiday, which was very pleasing to see!”