Annabel Karmel is coming to Taste of Abu Dhabi

We catch up with the children’s cookbook author ahead of her UAE visit

Annabel Karmel is coming to Taste of Abu Dhabi

Having opened the UAE’s first children-focused restaurant earlier this year – White and the Bear – Annabel Karmel is flying into the capital for Taste of Abu Dhabi.

It all started for the celebrity chef and best-selling author with The Complete Baby and Toddler Meal Planner in 1991, Karmel has since gone on to cook up 47 cookbooks, selling more than five million copies worldwide.

The mother-of-three will be at Taste of Abu Dhabi on Friday November 8 and Saturday November 9 cooking up some of her favourite family dishes as well as getting the kids involved in her dedicated parent and child cooking session.

Are you excited about coming to Abu Dhabi?
I’m honoured be part of the chef line-up at Taste of Abu Dhabi this year, working alongside some fantastic names in the industry. I’ll be taking part in a number of cooking demonstrations throughout the festival, but I am particularly excited about leading a dedicated children’s cooking session. I think it’s important to get kids in the kitchen helping from a young age, whether it’s weighing ingredients, mixing, rolling or simply decorating and assembling toppings. I also always look forward to exploring the food scene over there, so I’ll be sampling some of the best restaurants Abu Dhabi has to offer.

There is a lot of focus on babies and toddlers eating right, but with high rates of childhood obesity in the UAE, what should parents of school age children be doing to combat this?
I don’t believe in putting children on a diet as they are growing, and they need good nutrition. I would instead just make sure that you offer lots of fruit and vegetables, lean meats and oily fish and that you try to instil healthy eating habits that will hopefully last a lifetime. What you give your children in their early years is really important as they tend to make up their mind about what they do and don’t like to eat from a young age. For example you can train children not to like eating salty foods by limiting fast foods and snacks such as crisps.

Tell us about White and the Bear?
It’s the first proper children’s restaurant that serves healthy food in a playful way to encourage children to try new dishes. The staff take orders from the children themselves and the menu is in the form of a board book with beautiful photos of the food.

The restaurant is stunning and designed by an award-winning interior designer. It is all white with pale wood furniture and it’s very stylish. The restaurant is on the ground floor and upstairs children can take part in arts and crafts and there is a concept store with clothing, tableware and beautiful items curated by the owner Hana Al Mula. There is also a bookshop and a little alcove where children can go and read books. The plan is that there will be cookery classes for the children and the upstairs area can be hired out for birthday parties too.

Why did you choose Dubai for your first restaurant collaboration?
I have been coming to Dubai for many years and the restaurant scene in Dubai is amazing. Dubai has taken the best restaurants from all over the world and opened even better versions in Dubai. So this seemed to be the perfect location for the world’s first children’s restaurant that adopts an educational and creative approach.

Any plans for more restaurants?
Yes we would love to work on more restaurant concepts. It’s depressing to see such stereotypical kids’ menus with chicken nuggets, pizza and chips. It is wonderful having a restaurant where children can explore recipes from all around the world and at White and the Bear we have made a lot of the recipes interactive which makes it fun for the children.

What’s next?
My new Weaning Made Simple book comes out in January, which I’m really excited about and we are also starting a nursery catering business. I have been creating recipes for nurseries for many years but now we will actually be making the food and delivering it. We are also selling our new range of baby food in the UAE.

You heard it here first!
Annabelle Karmel will be at Taste of Abu Dhabi on Friday November 8 and Saturday November 9. www.tastabudhabi.com.

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