In recent months, some of the most prestigious chefs in the country, such as José Andrés, José Pizarro, Dani García or Paco Morales, have opted for the United Arab Emirates as the new destination for their new projects.
The United Arab Emirates began to have relevance in the year 2022, when it appeared on the First time in the Michelin guide. Since then, chefs from all over the world have begun to set their sights on the Middle East. Dubai and Abu Dhabi were the first cities in the region to have Michelin restaurants.
Who are the Spanish chefs who have opted for the Middle East?
One of the first Spanish chefs to open a restaurant in the United Arab Emirates is Jaime Castañeda. Last November, he became the first Spanish chef to obtain a Michelin star in Abu Dhabi. Five years after its opening, «99 Sushi Bar».
José Andrés has been one of the first to open a restaurant in 2023 in these luxurious cities, in January he presented a new version of 'Jaleo'. This Spanish cuisine restaurant is in the new Atlantis The Royal hotel in Dubai. The highlights of this new proposal by the Asturian chef are the Iberian ham, the paella, the tapas and the sangria. The objective is to offer diners the best of Spanish gastronomy. "I am an art lover and I think it is a good place to start outside of Europe," he admits to El País.
Chef José Pizarro will open the restaurant "José By Pizarro" in Dubai until March 15. It will be located in one of the most emblematic and luxurious places in the city, the Conrad Abu Dhabi Etihad towers of the Hilton chain. The menu that Pizarro will offer are Spanish dishes such as anchovies from the Cantabrian Sea, prawns from Sanlúcar de Barrameda with garlic. “It is very exciting to be able to bring our culinary culture to this country. From what I have seen, there is not much Spanish cuisine in Abu Dhabi and I hope that people understand what our flavors are," Pizarro said in a statement to the newspaper El País.
Dani García, Andalusian chef, will also open a restaurant in Dubai. It is expected that this new restaurant, which will be called "Leña", will open between April and September (there is no specific date). The location will be on the luxurious island of Palm Jumeirah. Currently, Dani García has two restaurants in the capital of Qatar, Doha; «Sea Wolf» and «BiBo». «It is a city that has been evolving and solidifying in recent years and practically all top-level chefs are already there. I think that we are a little late, in a second or third run”, says Dani García about Dubai and its gastronomic future.
At the end of the year, Paco Morales will open "Qabú" in the One Zabeel tower in Dubai. The Cordovan chef started this project five years ago, but due to the pandemic everything stopped. “It is a country that wants to position itself with quality gastronomic tourism and time will decide if it remains nothing or something serious. It is a bet and we are betting too. We want to see if we are capable of seducing the public there” he admits to the newspaper El País.
Lastly, other Spanish chefs such as Dabiz Muñoz and Martín Berasategui have confirmed that they plan to undertake new projects in Dubai during 2023, but the main reason that has slowed them down has been the pandemic.