From the cool of Britannia to the heat of the desert
I am now into my ninth month working in Dubai, and time certainly flies by. I recently made a trip back to London, which was part business and part pleasure. I was working in all the Gordon Ramsay restaurants just to keep track of all the fantastic new dishes the other chefs are creating, so I am not falling behind the fast pace set in London by the talented chefs working there today.
Living in a country where the cuisine is as underdeveloped as here does have its drawbacks when it comes to inspiration, although I know that in years to come Dubai will get better. There's talk of some of the world's greatest chefs opening restaurants here in the next few years.
So I took the opportunity to go to a few restaurants. One of the most notable was Giorgio Locatelli's Locanda. It was a fantastic meal in a fantastic dining room. Giorgio has done a great job, and I wish him and his wife all the best. I also went to Winteringham Fields in Lincolnshire, the two-Michelin-starred restaurant. My parents live in Skegness, so I was able to kill two birds with one stone, if you like. The meal was truly great - and what a pleasure to eat food like that in my beloved North of England. It is a restaurant all true northerners should be proud of.
I also visited my good friend Robert at the French bookshop. He had a great selection of books for me to take back to Dubai, which sent my baggage weight drastically over the limit. I was then glad to get back to the sunshine and out of the cold.
Gordon was over for three days, and we had a masterclass to hold and two dinners which Gordon hosted. Needless to say, we were absolutely fully booked for his masterclass and it went down extremely well.
We also participated in the live link-up to the 2002 Chef Conference in London hosted by Caterer‘s Amanda Afiya and Forbes Mutch, which was great fun even though the microphones had a big delay. It was still enjoyable, and I hope we all gave some insight into a chef's life as an expat.
We have just had a menu change in Verre, and we decided to experiment with more local fish - to great success. We are using a fish called hamour, which is Arabia's version of the cod. It is big and flaky like cod, but a lot meatier.
The weather is starting to get really hot now. They tell me in the months of June and July it reaches 108°F. God help us. n
JASON ATHERTON is head chef of Verre, Gordon Ramsay at Dubai Creek, Dubai
Next diary from Jason Atherton: 30 May