Things are warming up nicely in the Gulf

06 November 2002 by
Things are warming up nicely in the Gulf

I hear from the girls at Caterer that it's getting a wee bit cold in the UK now. Well, it's just starting to get nice here now, with the temperature up to 32°C. The hotel is at 100% occupancy - it's the time of year for conferences and the like, so there's good business to be won.

We recently had Caterer out here with some chefs from the UK who were over on a course at the Emirates Academy with Willi Elsener and Mick Kitts. They came to Verre for dinner, so we cooked them a tasting menu, which seemed to go down well. You never know what to expect with a bunch of chefs - whether you'll get the thumbs-up or a big-time grilling.

The same day as they came for dinner my sous chef Nathan, my fish supplier Gerard Vouyoukas and I went down with the Caterer guys to the fish market early in the morning. There were a few fish that they'd not come across before, so that meant lots of photos. We all had a lot of practice at ignoring the camera and "being natural" while being interviewed. I hope the pictures aren't too cheesy.

We also recently had Gordon Ramsay out on one of his visits as well, making sure everything is up to his standards. Everything went really well, so that was a big relief!

We are now getting closer to the Islamic holy month, Ramadan, so we are preparing the Ramadan tent again. But this year we are doing something a bit more exciting - a portable restaurant offering a full Arabic menu in the tent. There'll be shisi pipes, belly dancers - the full monty.

We are putting a full Arabic breakfast on at 5.30am, before the sun rises, and opening the restaurants as soon as the sun sets, at about 6.00pm or 6.30pm. Part of the religious meaning of Ramadan is that Muslims are supposed to fast between sunrise and sunset, to remind themselves that there are people who have no food, and that we should be charitable.

There is change coming to the hotel over the next two months, as our F&B manager is leaving to go to Japan, so good luck to him on his promotion. Well done, Marckus, it is well deserved.

And we have just heard that US golfing champion Tiger Woods has confirmed that he will play in the Desert Classic next year in March, so that has made my week. I will certainly be going to that.

The promotions we put in place for the start of the season have been a huge success. Both restaurants have really started to get busy. The bars are now packed, thanks to the live entertainment we put in.

These are things you learn as you work abroad. It's not just food that people want - a lot of people in the Middle East want entertainment at the same time. That's something we're just not used to in London.

JASON ATHERTON is head chef of Verre, Gordon Ramsay at Dubai Creek, Dubai

Next diary from Jason Atherton: 12 December

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