The Dubai Food Festival

The Dubai Food Festival

09 Feb 2015

What to expect at this culinary extravaganza

The Dubai Food Festival is back for its second outing and it promises to be bigger and better than its first! Spanning across four themes; Emirati cuisine, homegrown restaurants, multi-cultural dining and street food and international chefs and restaurants, the festival kicks off on 6 Feb, and will feature a 23 day programme that’s packed with everything from pop-ups to culinary tours. Promoting the diversity of the city’s culinary landscape, it doesn’t matter if you prefer fine dining or love casual bites, each of the 200 nationalities that make up Dubai’s fabric are set to be represented through a multitude of flavours and cuisines through trade and consumer events, activities, promotions and appearances from the celeb food world.

Emirati Cuisine
Despite the exponential growth of Dubai’s food scene in recent years to incorporate diverse and international flavours, the culinary arts are currently celebrating a renaissance of ancient spices and ingredients native to the region, which brings us back to basics. In a nod to our city’s heritage, the ‘Made in Dubai’ event from 27 to 28 Feb will showcase a whopping 96 delicious, yet often unknown dishes from the region at Zabeel Park through a series of tastings and masterclasses with local chefs and its free for everyone (bar the Dhs5 fee to get into the park itself).

This extravaganza’s mainstay fixture will be the bigger and better ‘Beach Canteen’. Taking residence at Kite Beach for the festival’s entirety from 6 Feb to 28 Feb, nine of Dubai’s best homegrown concepts and restaurants will be offering an unparalleled beach dining experience, and excitingly, celeb chefs such as the Michelin-starred Jason Atherton (26 to 28 Feb), India’s Sanjeev Kapoor (21 Feb) and Saudi Arabian Masterchef, Yousef Khamayes (6 to 7 Feb) will also serve from pop up restaurants at the same location, complete with DJs, children’s activities and more. Other key events from this category include the ‘Urban Farm’, a local street food market with stalls exhibiting their dishes at both The Archive at Safa Park on 7 Feb and Creekside, Bur Dubai on 28 Feb.

Multi-cultural Dining and Street Food
The allure of street food knows no bounds and in collaboration with the global food truck trend of late, an entire fleet of unique homegrown concepts will be pitching up in key locations such as Tecom, JLT and Emaar Square to deliver lunchtime pop-ups, on various dates throughout the festival. Vendors include Burger Fuel, Desert Chill, Panifico, Raw Coffee and Jakes. 

Additionally, for lovers of food stalls and hawker food, the upcoming ‘Street Nights’ festival in the up-and-coming art precinct, Al Quoz, on 20 to 21 Feb, is sure to delight. A combination of street eats and art, a showcase of award-winning street photographer Penny De La Santos will also be on display. The street pics taken for our feature exclusively gives you an idea of what to expect...

International Chefs and Restaurants
It’s no secret that Dubai’s vibrant culinary scene has drawn the attention of some of the most successful food influencers in the world, with celebrity chefs such as award-winning Greg Malouf and star of Chopped Silvena Rowe, choosing Dubai as their venue of choice for new concepts. Along with some of the biggest names in the culinary world, such as Heinz Beck and Atul Kochhar, the inaugural ‘Dine on the Creek’ event will see these renowned personalities serving up their dishes in traditional Emirati surroundings. Meanwhile, the Fatafeat Kitchen on 20 to 21 Feb will welcome regional and internationally acclaimed chefs such as Egyptian cuisine expert Chef Salma Soliman, to take part in live cooking demos. 

Key Festival Dates and Venues
Beach Canteen, 6 to 28 Feb, Kite Beach, Jumeirah
Dubai Food and Film, 6 to 28 February, Various outdoor locations throughout the city
Urban Farm, The Archive, Safa Park, 7 Feb Creekside, Bur Dubai, 28 Feb
Food Truck Convoy, 8 to 12 Feb, 15 to 19 Feb, 22 to 26 Feb, Emaar Boulevard, Academic City, JLT Park, Knowledge Village, Studio City
GulFood, 8 to 12 Feb, Dubai World Trade Centre
Mystery Dining Tours, 9, 14, 17, 18, 23 Feb, various locations
Dubai Food Carnival, 12 to 14 February, Dubai International Marine Club
Taste of Peru, 12 to 14 Feb, Madinat Jumeirah Amphitheatre
Street Food Photography Exhibition, dates throughout Feb, Dubai Airport
Fatafeat Kitchen, 20 to 21 Feb, Galeries Lafayette, The Dubai Mall
Street Nights, 20 to 21 Feb, Street 4B, Al Quoz
Masala! Food Fair, 20 to 21 Feb, Zabeel Park
Made In Dubai, 27 to 28 February, Zabeel Park
Dine on The Creek, dates to be announced soon, Dubai Creek

Try this at home…
Greg Malouf’s Salmon Kibbeh Nayee
An Australian of Lebanese descent, Michelin-starred Greg Malouf is credited as the creator of a new style of cooking known as ‘Modern Middle Eastern’ and has created a splash in Dubai with the opening of Clé Dubai, a restaurant featuring authentic cuisine with a twist of contemporary flavours and cooking techniques. Here is his twist to an authentic Arabian favourite

400g Atlantic salmon, skinned, bloodline removed, finely minced and chilled

2 shallots finely chopped

1/3-cup burhgul, (cracked wheat) white, fine grade, soaked for 8 minutes in ½ cup water, then squeezed dry

1/3 tsp allspice, ground

3 very small bullet chilli, deseeded and finely chopped

Freshly milled white pepper, to taste

Sea salt, to taste

3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

2 blocks of ice

Small salad leaves

The juice of 1 lemon


1 Chill a stainless steel bowl. 

2 Mix together the minced salmon, shallots, cracked wheat, allspice, white pepper, chilli, sea salt and extra virgin olive oil with the ice. 

3 Check the seasoning and adjust with extra chilli and salt if needed.

4 To serve, spoon the kibbeh onto a flat dish and spread out with a wet spatula to an even thickness.  

5 Place a small mound of salad on top dressed with lemon, 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper.

6 Drizzle the remaining extra virgin olive oil around the salmon. 

7 Serve with thick Greek style yoghurt and pitta bread.