Dubai Food Festival: Top Guide

All the details on the must-see events of the Dubai Food Festival, from Dubai Food Carnival to The Big Grill and more!
Wednesday , 19 February 2014
Dubai Food Festival
Chef Silvena Rowe will open a pop-up eatery for DFF
Chef Silvena Rowe will open a pop-up eatery for DFF
Join the family fun at Dubai Food Carnival
Join the family fun at Dubai Food Carnival
UB40 are performing at The Big Grill on 28 Feb
UB40 are performing at The Big Grill on 28 Feb
The city's most popular food event, Taste of Dubai
The city's most popular food event, Taste of Dubai
Chef Jeffrey will grill up a storm at The Big Grill
Chef Jeffrey will grill up a storm at The Big Grill

Launched by Dubai Festivals and Retail Establishment, an agency of Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing, the first-ever Dubai Food Festival is a city-wide culinary celebration that brings together some of the UAE’s most popular business and consumer food events including Gulfood and Taste of Dubai, as well as new events such as the Dubai Food Carnival and The Big Grill. Here's our list of dates to mark in your diary... 

Event: Dubai Food Carnival
Venue: Dubai Festival City  
Dates: 
21-22 Feb

Dubai Food Festival opens with the carnival which promises “fun, food and flavours” and will feature celeb chefs, culinary masterclasses, restaurant pavilions, food tastings as well as musical entertainment. In the live demo area – The Chef’s Dome – foodies can check out the “queen of the Arabic kitchen” Manal Al Alem, food TV star Silvena Rowe and UK MasterChef’s John Torode in an exciting cook-off. Also make sure to check out Silvena's pop-up restauarant, Carnival Rowe which will be serving a three-course "taste or organic Arabia" menu featuring all locally grown ingredients. 
Other events include the Great Yalla BBQ – an open barbecue competition – on 21 Feb with the finale on 22 Feb; The Extreme Food Challenge, a marathon chilli-eating competition, and My Dad Can Cook – a week-long competition culminating on 22 Feb. Exhibitors range from international brands like Hakkasan and Pizza Express to homegrown eateries such as Chinese Connection and Mandilicious.
INFO: Dhs60 per person, children under 12 free, 10am-11pm Fri-Sat 21-22 Feb, Dubai Festival City, www.dubaifoodcarnival.com

Event: Grand Kerala Festival
Venue: Wonderland Dubai
Dates: 20-22 Feb  
The three-day event will transform the theme park into a Keralean village and include a food fair with cooking stations showcasing cuisines from the three provinces of Malabar, Kochi and Travancore. There’s also a Kerala home cooking competition, family entertainment, competitions, handicrafts on sale and an art expo. 
INFO: Food Festival, 2pm-12am Thu-Sat 20-22 Feb, Wonderland Dubai, www.grandkeralafestival.com

Event: Taste of Peru
Venue: Madinat Amphitheatre
Date: 26 Feb-1 Mar
The fair celebrates Peruvian cuisine and entertainment with four food stalls serving traditional dishes complemented by rhythmic South American music. 
INFO: 6pm onwards Wed-Thu 26-27 Feb, 3pm onwards Fri-Sat 28 Feb-1 Mar, Souk Madinat Jumeirah , Dubai, www.jumeirah.com

Event: The Big Grill
Venue: Emirates Golf Club

Date: 27-28 Feb 
Meat lovers can revel in a weekend dedicated to all things barbecue. Chef Jeffrey Brothers (previously at Marco Pierre White Steakhouse at the Fairmont Bab Al Bahr) and his team. Visitors can tuck into classic steaks and juicy burgers as well as regional specialities such as Indian kebabs and Lebanese mashawis. There’s also a King of the Grill competition which will crown Dubai’s ultimate barbecue master!
Organised by Sundance Live, musical acts during the weekend include UB40 (28 Feb), No Mercy and Diana King (27 Feb). Tickets include unlimited food from the grills plus one serving from the Masters of the Grill Zone.   
INFO: 4pm onwards, Thu 27 Feb, Dhs295 per adult, Dhs100 per child, 1pm onwards Fri 28 Feb, Dhs300 per adult, Dhs150 per child, weekend pass Dhs495 per adult, Dhs250 per child, Emirates Golf Club, Dubai, 052 990 0112, www.facebook/SundanceLIVE, tickets available at www.timeoutdubai.com, www.platinumlist.net, www.tickets.virginmegastore.me 

Event: Emirates Airline Festival of Literature
Venue: InterContinental Hotel Dubai Festival City

Date: 4-8 Mar
The literature festival has a strong food angle to it this year thanks to a host of internationally renowned food writers. Chef Greg Malouf joins the line-up and he’ll be preparing a ‘Friday Literary Lunch’ at Terra Firma restaurant in the InterContinental Hotel, Festival City. Attendees can sample his dishes and listen to Greg and his co-author, Lucy, recount their colourful stories of the travels that inspired numerous exotic cookery books.  After lunch, Greg and Lucy will lead an interactive session discussing Dubai’s restaurant scene and culinary culture.
The next day Greg will be joined by cookbook author Tessa Kiros; restaurateur and cookbook writer Prue Leith; typographer, interior designer and writer Arlette Boutros; and award-winning editor, broadcaster and author William Sitwell. The talented group will be hosting a Foodie Panel looking at how and why food has become such a popular subject of television shows.
Tickets for the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature are available online from www.emirateslitfest.com and at Dar Al Adaab office in Al Fahidi Historical Neighbourhood on weekdays from 9am-5pm, as well as at WHSmith stores in The Dubai Mall, Oasis Centre, Marina Mall and Al Wadha Mall, Abu Dhabi. 
INFO: Literary lunch 1pm, interactive session 6.30pm, Fri 7 Mar, foodie panel, 11.30am-12.30pm, 8 Mar, InterContinental Hotel, Dubai Festival City, www.emirateslitfest.com

Event: Gulf Photo Plus
Venue: Alserkal Avenue Arts and Cultural District and Knowledge Village 
Date: 7-14 Mar

The annual photography festival will feature a range of food-related workshops held by food photographer and blogger Matt Armendariz  (www.mattbites.com). The blogger-turned-author kicks off with a seminar dedicated to taking great food pics with your smartphone (love!) from 11.30am-1pm followed by the ‘Great Writing and Food Photography for Bloggers’ session at 6pm on Friday 7 March.
Matt will also host a two-day ‘Food Photography in Depth’ workshop from 9am-5pm on 9-10 March where photography enthusiasts and professionals can learn all the techniques of lighting, props, food styling and retouching. 
INFO: Online registration required for free workshops, tickets available at gulfphotoplus.com/gpp/2014, Dubai Knowledge Village Conference Centre, www.gulfphotoplus.com

Event: Taste of Dubai 
Venue: Dubai Media City Amphitheatre
Date: 13-15 Mar

Taste of Dubai is the culmination of the Dubai Food Festival with an incredible line-up of chefs, cooking demos, restaurants, music and entertainment. This year’s festival is headlined by master baker and food TV star Eric Lanlard and French maestro Jean-Christophe Novelli. Food Network stars Siba Mtongana, Reza Mahammad and Jenny Morris will also be at this year’s event which is a celebration of all the best food and drink Dubai has to offer.
INFO: Standard tickets in advance Dhs70 and at the door Dhs90, VIP tickets Dhs220 in advance and Dhs240 at the door, VIP tickets include fast track entry, access to the VIP enclosure, two free drinks at the VIP bar, three free dishes from any participating restaurant and entry into a prize draw, Thu-Sun 13-15 Mar, Thu 4pm-12am, Fri 12pm-12am, Sat 12pm-11pm, www.tasteofdubaifestival.com