There’s always loads to keep you entertained in the capital, but still there are few events we look forward to more than Taste of Abu Dhabi.
The huge food festival is back at du Arena on Yas Island this weekend and we’re chomping at the bit to dive into the culinary delights on offer.
Featuring celebrity chefs, cooking competitions, food from some of the city’s best restaurants and live music (including some rather famous boyband members), it’s really quite hard to know where to even start when considering all the attractions.
But we’ve given it a go anyway, in our guide to everything you need to know about Taste of Abu Dhabi 2019.
Cook alongside Celebrity Chefs
You can watch the masters at work and learn some handy tips and tricks in the Crate & Barrel Chef’s Theatre. The big culinary names appearing here include French master Jean-Christophe Novelli, Australian chef, author, restauranteur and MasterChef judge John Torode, author and vlogger Assia Othman, Indian chef and restaurateur Kunal Kapur, international bestselling children’s food author Annabel Karmel and artisan pastry chef Karim Bourgi. There’s also the chance to cook alongside the big names and win some prizes in the Al Ain Farms & Kibsons Cooking Challenge. So if you’re rather skilled in the kitchen, this could be your time to shine.
Some of the chefs are returning names but for some, like Karmel, it is their first time. The brilliant British author, who has an MBE for her services to children’s nutrition, says: “At Taste of Abu Dhabi, I’ll be doing two cookery demonstrations – one at the Chef’s Theatre and one specifically with kids. I will also be sharing some of my favourite recipes and my top cooking tips. This will be my first time at Taste of Abu Dhabi, so I’m really excited and looking forward to meeting everyone.”
Boogie to Boyzlife and UB40
The event will feature two huge headline acts. English reggae veterans UB40 will kick off the festival on Thursday with a selection of classic hits such as Food For Thought, Kingston Town and (I Can’t Help) Falling In Love With You. Then on the Friday, every ’90s teeny bopper will be in their element as the boyband supergroup Boyzlife (featuring Keith Duffy from Boyzone and Brian McFadden from Westlife), will be performing a selection of the two band’s biggest tunes including Flying Without Wings, No Matter What, I Love The Way You Love Me and Love Me For A Reason. Local bands will also be performing throughout the weekend.
Check out the new pavilions
If you went to the event last year, don’t think you’ve seen it all because the organisers have added a few exciting new additions to make the festival even better than ever. Firstly, the International Food Sampling Pavilion sounds like the best place in the world. Because if there’s one thing we like more than eating delicious food, it’s eating delicious food for free. Head inside the large tent and you can sample delicacies from around the globe, plus organic and locally-sourced produce such as honey, dates, juices, Arabic sweets, biscuits and coffee. An Emirati Flavours Pavilion has been added too, and here you’ll be able to watch cooking demonstrations from homegrown chefs, learn about local traditions, sample dates and Arabic coffee and browse homemade crafts. Plus, for the first time ever you can also take part in drink-tasting experiences in the new Beverage Theatre. Here expert mixologists will be running masterclasses and letting you sample hops, grape and fruity mixed beverages. We might just have to visit all three of the new areas.
Roll up your sleeves in The Big Baking Tent
Now that the latest season of The Great British Bake Off has sadly drawn to a close, we bet that many of you might be starting to panic about where you’ll get your next baking fix from. Well never fear, the Big Baking Tent by ICCA will be back this year with pâtissier Eric Lanlard on hand to run masterclasses for baking enthusiasts (and beginners, of course). On Saturday (November 9) the ICCA Big Bake Off Competition Final will be held here and a variety of other local and international pastry experts, including Karim Bourgi, will also be appearing throughout the event. Bourgi says: “I’m really looking forward to Taste of Abu Dhabi. I will be demonstrating two of my favourite desserts at the Big Baking Tent and also hosting fun challenges with aspiring chefs at the Al Ain Farms and Kibsons Cooking Challenge.”
Eat at the capital’s best restaurants
It’s amazing that we’ve got this far without mentioning the tremendous line-up of restaurants that will be taking part in this year’s festival. At Taste of Abu Dhabi you can sample dishes from so many of the city’s best foodie venues all in one place, without having to splash out on loads of fancy meals. You’ll be able to try tasty bites from Sambusek, Butcher & Still, Namak by Kunal Kapur, Dai Pai Dong, La Brasserie, Todd English’s Olives, Dino’s Bistro Italiano, Amerigos Mexican Bar and Restaurant and many more.
Keep the kids busy
Anyone under 12 gets into the festival for free (lucky things), and there’s loads to keep them entertained so parents don’t have to. The kids’ zone features arts and crafts, inflatables, face painting and even a free trampolining station set up by BOUNCE.
Day tickets start from Dhs70, or if you want to experience the whole weekend properly (after all, there is a lot of eating to do), then you can splash out and buy the Ultimate Taste Experience package for Dhs290. This includes access to all three days, four food and six drinks vouchers and passes to the VIP lounge.
From Dhs70. Nov 7-9. du Arena, Yas Island, tasteofabudhabi.com.