Meet the Chefs | Jonathan Phang and Jenny Morris in Dubai
A weekend evening spent out with the family is nice. A weekend evening spent out with the family watching a cooking demonstration by celebrity chefs is even better.
South African chef Jenny Morris of the Food Network and the UK's Jonathan Phang from the Travel Channel were in town for a few days as part of the Dubai Food Festival's lineup, and they were whipping up some delectable and easy-to-prepare treats that were perfect for veggie lovers.
As an amateur chef, I've whiled away many hours on the Food Network, which is how I came across Jenny Morris and her culinary adventures in the Riviera and Morocco a couple of years ago. Her energy, enthusiasm and passion for new foods combined with some mouth-watering recipes made for must-watch TV (and built up quite an appetite on many an afternoon). So when I heard that she would be in my neck of the woods, my weekend plans were pretty much set. Admittedly, I'm not quite as familiar with Jonathan Phang's work, but you can't go wrong with a globetrotting chef.
Despite Friday’s sandstorm, we headed to Mirdif City Center to catch the show and see the pair in action. And boy, they did not disappoint!
The proceedings kicked off with a little game called 'The Nose Knows', where my brother was the first eager participant. The rules were simple: he would smell a number of ingredients with his eyes closed, and had to correctly identify each one.
He had no trouble with the first ingredient: vinegar. Next up was another distinctive fragrance in the form of garlic powder. He also breezed through mint and paprika without hesitation. This was it. The last ingredient and the chance to prove himself the Best Nose in Mirdif. Alas, the zesty scent of coriander powder tripped him up. Still, he ended up getting 4 out of 5, which netted him an autographed Food Network apron! As an aside, no other contestant even came close to that, so my brother was the evening's sniffing champion!
Then began the demo proper. Jenny Morris, just as bubbly and ebullient in person as she is on TV, crafted a concoction she dubbed 'Cheese Heaven': a mixture of brie, blue cheese and mascarpone mixed with fruits. One version had caramelized oranges and figs and the other was with raspberries. Each took all of five minutes and looked (and smelled) just amazing. Sadly, as per the sponsor rules, tasting was not allowed; it was for demonstration purposes only, so we were left salivating.
Next up, Jonathan Phang made a chilled avocado soup with spices and seasonings that was equally effortless and looked just as inviting.
After a short break, which was a good opportunity to grab some coffee, Jenny put together a salad that was simple, colorful and healthy (putting aside the liberal amount of blue cheese involved, because cheese should always be excused). Then Jonathan took things in an Easterly direction with a cold udon noodle salad that was tossed in a tantalizing spicy peanut butter dressing. Good thing the show ended just in time for dinner!
Recipe cards were handed out at the event that the chefs happily autographed, and I even got a little photo-op with the both of them.
The demonstration was sponsored by local television service provider OSN and, as the most enthusiastic foodies there, my brother and I were interviewed after the show!
Overall, it was a fantastic Friday evening, and a great opportunity to interact with two top-class chefs. Aside from their culinary skills, both Jenny Morris and Jonathan Phang brought loads of energy and good humor, which made them both a delight to watch. And all the dishes were really simple to make too, perfect for the busy veggie foodie on the go.
I'm eager to tune into both of their shows when they're on again, and I'll definitely keep an eye out for their next Dubai trip!
Now to pick up some ingredients for Cheese Heaven...
Arpan Ghosh is the newest member of the VeggieBuzz team.
Never miss a post from VeggieBuzz!
Sign up for our newsletter to get the latest VeggieBuzz content delivered right to your inbox.