Dean Bouvet interview

Michelin starred executive head chef of Etoiles Group, Dean Bouvet Discuss this article

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© ITP Images

Decked with one Michellin star and many an AA rosette (we’ve stopped counting) Dean Bouvet is the executive head chef of Etoiles at the Emirates Palace. He’s also a Londoner and a firm believer in the power of hand dived scallops, top quality chocolate and fresh herbs. We caught up with the man who’s worked closely with Marco Pierre White to find out what goes on in his kitchen.

When did you first move to Abu Dhabi?
I first came to Abu Dhabi in 2007, and was part of the pre opening team here at Etoiles. Recently I took six months off to set up home in Australia, and last week I came back to continue what I’d started with the company.

And how do you feel about the local food scene and cuisine?
The food scene here is great and things are always pushing forward, local cuisine included. We are blessed here in Abu Dhabi, we have the ability to use world class produce and, as an emerging market, local businesses invest at the right level to make things a success.

So we’ve just had gourmet Abu Dhabi in town – what are your thoughts on the affair? Do you think all the international chefs coming in are improving the food scene?
I have taken part in a couple of the gourmet events here in Abu Dhabi, and yes it raises awareness of high end food in the region. But I think it’s important that the chefs coming respect the cost implementations. Some seem to go a little overboard with their ingredient requests thinking that there is a bottomless pit of money here, which of course is not the case.

And what do you think about all the celebrity chefs putting their names to restaurants in the UAE but not actually sticking around?
Actually I’ll take a quote from Gordon, if you buy a suit from Versace, would he have stitched it himself? No is the answer, but the quality is still there. These chefs entrust their reputation with the people they employ.

Aptly quoted, and a point well made by Gordon. Speaking of whom, we notice that a great deal of what TV chefs say is bleeped out. If your kitchen had a profanity buzzer how often would it need to be pressed on a scale of one to 10 (10 being always, one being only when someone catches fire)?
The buzzer would be broken in my kitchen, not in a bully boy way, that’s just how some kitchens are. We are all a product of our previous environments and I always ensure my kitchens are fun and disciplined. The product needs to be tip top and if a few choice words are used, that’s just my way. It’s never unfriendly or personal.

You probably get asked this a lot, but what’s your favourite food?
Favourite food is a tough one, actually I love fresh ingredients simply prepared. Can you beat fresh fish? I think not.

No, you really can’t. Who’s your favourite chef?
Favourite chef is easy, Marco for me. He changed the English food scene and the profile of chefs. He achieved so many firsts, he has to be admired. But I’ve met many great chefs along the way, through work and dining out. Not all great chefs enjoy a celebrity status, but they are still dedicated and innovative.

Can you tell us about the worst or funniest kitchen disaster you’ve experienced?
Funny kitchen stories I could share with you but it wouldn’t make it to print. Disasters are always overcome, that could be a chef’s finest quality; dealing with adversity. [At this point, Chef Dean relates his funniest kitchen disaster to Elest and they have a long and hearty laugh.]

You’re right, there’s no way that’s making it into print. Let’s move on, what are your top two culinary peeves?
Tardiness and corner cutting, if you’re going to do it, do it to the best of your ability.

What’s the strangest thing you’ve eaten?
Hedgehog flavoured crisps.

Eh?! That really is weird. And finally, you’ve taken time out of your busy schedule to provide us with a recipe, so thank you for that. Can you tell us why you chose this one?
Because of its simplicity and fresh taste, anyone can make this.
Etoiles is open daily from 7-11.30pm at Emirates Palace Hotel, Ras Al Akhdar (02 690 8960).

By Elest Ali
Time Out Abu Dhabi,

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