• Today’s highlights include ‘We Love Art’ activity , Italian cooking by Fatto in Casa and yoga
• Central hub of Dubai Food Festival attracts over 19,000 visitors during opening weekend
• Celebrity chefs dazzle crowds at the Etisalat Beach Canteen with gastronomic delights
Today (Monday, 29 February) will see amazing activities lined up for the public at the Etisalat Beach Canteen, the central hub of the ongoing Dubai Food Festival, focussing on healthy food, fitness and fun.
The Etisalat Beach Canteen witnessed a fantastic opening weekend with more than 19,000 people visiting this popular attraction on Kite Beach from Thursday to Saturday, and today’s lineup of activities are bound to stir more interest among foodies and families.
The exciting activities today (Monday, 29 February) start by midday where My Gym offers a safe place for children to have a bit of fun and exercise. The ‘We Love Art’ activity will bring together both young and old, as they take part in community painting sessions so that everyone gets to paint for fun, laughter and some good times in a social setting.
Fatto in Casa, known for their authentic homemade Italian cooking, will be on the main stage celebrating taste through a live cooking demonstration. As the sun sets, the Hot Box Kit will be back on the beach for a spot of evening yoga for people to relax after a busy work day. Monday evening ends with hours of delightful jazz music with the Open Mic Night by Abbo Music.
Earlier, over the weekend, five Australian celebrity chefs turned on a magical display of live cooking demonstrations at the Etisalat Beach Canteen. The superstars from Australia, chefs George Calombaris, Gary Mehigan, Shannon Bennett, Manu Feildel and Matt Moran wowed the crowds on Saturday afternoon with live culinary demonstrations that garnered interest not only from ardent fans of the chefs, but also from children who wanted to learn from the masters of the kitchen.
During the demonstrations, the chefs showed the audience how to prepare healthy dishes and also provided useful tips such as storing sauces and short-cut cooking methods. Some of the chefs invited the audience on stage to chop up herbs and grate vegetables. The live demonstrations by the celebrity chefs were a dream come true for many of the audience members who got to see their favourite chefs close-up. There were long queues to try the delicious food prepared by the chefs, while others in the audience enjoyed the ambience.
Chef George Calombaris cooked ravioli with a barbequed leek filling and rice pudding dessert made from sushi rice. He said: “I have been visiting Dubai on and off for 10 years now and it is amazing to see how the city has blossomed on the food front. I am happy to see the rise of food vendors in Dubai who are passionate about coming up with unique food concepts and making them available at the Etisalat Beach Canteen. As I always say, life is too short to eat bad food.”
Chef Gary Mehigan stirred up a buffalo mozzarella bruchetta, a sweet potato and ricotta dish and salmon sliders with miso paste. “I love trying out street-style food. The Beach Canteen has really done a good job encouraging home-grown food vendors to showcase their unique twist on food.”
Chef Shannon Bennet was a hit among the children who were happy to have a taste of the freshly made madeleine biscuits served with the warm chocolate orange mousse. He explained in great detail the nine steps needed to prepare the dessert. The father of six said: “It’s been an honour to be here at the Etisalat Beach Canteen and see so many children who are interested in the art of cooking. The children are our future and it is important to impart to them the importance of cooking good and healthy food.”
Chef Manu Feildel made a cauliflower based tabbouleh and deep fried prawns on skewers. Of Dubai becoming an important international food hub, he said: “The city is becoming quite a gastronomic destination, where people are becoming serious about the food that they eat and also the origins of food. A few days ago when I went round the Etisalat Beach Canteen to see what’s on offer, I was awestruck with the food items that the vendors have created. Food has become a mainstream passion for many and I’m happy that we were offered the brilliant opportunity to come to Dubai and share our love of food with the people living here.”
Chef Matt Moran created dishes such as the Spanish watermelon and halloumi starter and a Thai Nan Jim based prawn salad. He said: “I wanted to create dishes from different cultures as a reminder that Dubai’s multi-cultural atmosphere is outstanding.” With strong links to a farming background, he recognised the importance of buying fresh produce directly from the farmers. “The rise of food vendors and pop-up food trucks in Dubai is a sure sign that people want to try something new, something fresh and something that they can buy straight from the farmers when possible.”
The interactive sessions included questions asked by the celebrity chefs. Winners from the audience were delighted, as they were able to return home with various prizes such as recipe books by the chefs, autographed aprons and wooden spoons as well as other goodies.