Top chefs in Abu Dhabi

Spoilt for choice at the Abu Dhabi Gourmet food spectacular? Time Out picks five of the best from the food fest

Celebrity chef

Santi Santamaria
As chef of Catalonia’s Can Fabes restaurant, Santi Santamaria has earned a reputation as the enfant terrible of Spanish cuisine. As sharp as his carving knife, his feud with Ferran Adrià is the stuff of Catalan legend – Santamaria going as far as to suggest that Aria puts his diners’ health at risk. Entirely self-taught, traditionalist Santamaria has remained at the same restaurant his entire career – something of a rarity in the gourmet world. ‘The only truth that matters,’ he believes, ‘is the product that comes out of the earth, passes through the ovens to the mouth of the eater, and is then defecated.’
Santamaria will be at Pearls & Caviar, Shangri-la Hotel, between February 6th and 9th. Special dinner on the 8th. Call 04 367 6520 for reservations.

Annie Féolde

Celebrated as the first woman in Italy to receive a Michelin star, Annie is a French national who fell into Italian cooking almost by accident. When her husband opened a Tuscanny wine bar in 1972, Féolde began creating dishes to accompany his selections. Very quickly, the food took centre stage and Annie found herself attracting attention from restaurants as far afield as Japan, where she is revered for her talents. While her background is multinational, she is adamant that her cooking remains an authentic representation of rustic, Italian fare. ‘My heart is like a border town,’ she once said, ‘bridging two passions: both the city where I grew up and the one that awakened me to love and cooking.’
Annie cooks at Mezzaluna, Emirates Palace, February 11th to 14th, with a special dinner on the 12th. Call 04 367 6520 for reservations. To read a Time Out chat with Annie, head over to

Heinz Beck

As with Annie Féolde, Heinz Beck is a foreigner who conquered the stubborn hearts of food fanatics in Italy. His restaurant may be housed in an American Hotel, but this hasn’t hindered Beck in becoming arguably the most respected chef in his adopted homeland, certainly the most famous in Rome. Aside from his obvious talents in the kitchen, Beck is also recognised as a highly successful author, his cookery publications regularly topping the bestseller lists.
Join Heinz Beck at the Armed Forces Officers Club, February 9th, with a special dinner later that evening at the Hilton. Call 04 367 6520 for reservations.

Alain Passard

With a name like Alain Passard, the Frenchman’s career choices were limited: philosopher or masterchef. Luckily for us, he chose the latter, then banned all red meat from his kitchens. A risky move? Not if you’re known in the trade as ‘the vegetable magician’. He grows his produce on his own vegetable plot, some 230 kilometres from the French capital, ensuring that his ingredients are pollutant-free. He is also known in Japan as an enthusiastic challenger on a popular TV show called Iron Chef. The man’s about as hip as a chef can hope to be.
Passard does time away from his Parisian haunt, L’Arpège, to forage in the kitchens of Bord Eau, Shangri-La Hotel, between 11th and 14th of February. A special dinner is planned for the 13th. 04 367 6520 for reservations.

Atul Kochhar

Atul Kochhar has become a household name in the UK, thanks to a series of best-selling cookbooks, numerous TV appearances and a healthy, down-to-earth connection with Marks & Sparks. But ‘celebrity chef’ is only a small part of his legacy. As the first Indian national to receive a Michelin star, his place in culinary history is already secured. With a series of acclaimed restaurants in London, Hampshire and Dublin, Kochhar is known as a brilliant spice tactician, never missing the chance to head back to his native India and study his ingredients firsthand.
Kochhar puts in a stint at Indigo Restaurant, Beach Rotana, between February 11th and 14th. Call 04 367 6520 for reservations.

Got your mouth watering?

We got on the phone to Atul Kochhar and got him to share all of his culinary secrets. To find out what we discovered, head on over to our website ( and grab his recipe for pan-fried John Dory in green spice paste and oven-roasted tomatoes. It’s a dish set to make you weep for the balmy shores of India, even if you’ve never been there in your life. Don’t say that we never spoil you.

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