By Sarah Townsend
Michelin-starred chef is the founder of Dragonfly in Dubai as well as eight other restaurants in Germany
You have eight other restaurants in Germany. Why did you choose Dubai as your first international destination rather than somewhere in Europe?
I met with the developer of Dubai’s City Walk [where Dragonfly is located] and the opportunity I was presented with was great. They had already collaborated with other Michelin-starred chefs like Tom Aikens [of Pots, Pans and Boards at The Walk in JBR], Virgilio Martínez [of new Peruvian outlet Central at City Walk] and now myself and others will follow because Dubai is a growing market.
Who is your targeted clientele at Dragonfly?
We made sure the concept of Dragonfly was in between [cultures] so we could target both expats and Gulf nationals. We are focussed on serving refined food and, as a non-licensed restaurant, we create jines – a variety of Asian-style juices that pair the dishes, served like grape beverages.
What are the main differences between servicing customers in Dubai, as opposed to in Berlin?
In Dubai it is especially important to have an entertaining atmosphere. City Walk is fast becoming a culinary hotspot within Dubai’s food scene and I am sure it will secure another handful of great restaurants, so it seems to me there is a bright future here.
How would you describe your dishes? [At the launch event] there was a very interesting mix between fine dining and pan-Asian, for example the minced chicken dumplings dipped in a rich hollandaise sauce that would not be out of place in an English or French fine dining establishment such as Claridge’s in London.
My dishes are flavourful; each dish is a blend of Thai flavours, Cantonese cooking techniques and Japanese purism.
How often do you devise new dishes, and do you travel regularly to Asia to source new ideas?
Nowadays I no longer need to travel to create new dishes, I was inspired by so many in the last 20 years that now I focus on my knowledge and create the dishes from my base in Berlin.
How did you react when you won your first Michelin star?
That year I really didn’t think it was going to happen and that actually made me pretty relaxed in the kitchen. The moment we got the call that we had won the Michelin star, the team and I freaked out. We were out for lunch at the time and all the people around us looked at us like we were crazy. We toasted and cheered with dozens of bottles of bubbly.
What would you choose as your last meal?
My last dish would be the dim sum at Lung King Heen in Hong Kong [a Cantonese fine dining restaurant in the Four Seasons Hotel helmed by chef de cuisine Chan Yan-Tak]. I also like to start my day with fresh made dim sum!
Dragonfly opened in January at City Walk, Al Safa, DubaiFor all the latest gourmet news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.