Keeping it simple with Gary Rhodes
Gary Rhodes needs no introduction. Celebrity chef, prolific cookbook author, former TV show host and restaurateur with as many as six Michelin stars awarded to various restaurants he has run over the years, this British culinary personality now calls Dubai home. Here, he also runs two award-winning restaurants while dabbling in other ventures such as bringing fine dining to the movies and introducing schools to wholesome eating. Oh, and he was also awarded an OBE along the way, and is currently busy travelling the world as an ambassador for Visit Britain’s GREAT campaign. He took time out amidst all this for a quick chat.
VB: Do you find a growing trend towards vegetarianism these days?
Gary: There’s no question about it – that is what the mass market is asking for. I think worldwide, it’s become a big focus. I couldn’t think about having a menu without vegetarian options. They’re not always easy to come up with, to try and think of something that isn’t rice or pasta or potato based, and will entertain the diner. But it’s a good thing. It keeps your mind thinking. Starters are easier, but I always try and make sure there are a couple of mains that are vegetarian. And even if a diner isn’t happy with the vegetarian options on the menu, we always have a back-up so can offer them something off-menu.
VB: Your forte is in cooking with fresh, seasonal produce, and of course, championing British cuisine. Where does vegetarian food fit into all this?
Gary: With vegetarian dishes, it’s always good to try and keep it seasonal. And English ingredients, when in season, are some of the finest in the world, such as English asparagus, summer berries and so on. With ingredients like this, you don’t have to mess around too much. We’ve got all these fantastic ingredients, why shouldn’t we putting them into British-style dishes? That’s what I am trying to show the world when I participate in the GREAT campaigns. I’ve been to Tokyo a few times, to India, and am going to Vietnam next. I hope to change the perception of British cuisine around the world.
VB: Do you personally enjoy vegetarian food? What are your favourite restaurants in Dubai, and any vegetarian favourites?
Gary: I do enjoy vegetarian food. Quite often, they are some of the freshest dishes on the menu! Give me a little quiche that’s just been cooked that day with a little salad on the side, in a country pub, I think that’s sensational! In terms of eating out here, it’s hard to say, as it depends on my mood and what I want to eat, but I enjoy going out here. I love going to Bussola, it’s my local. The Burrata there I believe is one of the best in Dubai. Another local favourite is The Croft, I love the style of food that Darren is doing over there. I also love Izu [Uni, head chef at La Serre], I love it down there.
VB: What about your ThEATre project with Vox Cinemas? Do you have a good vegetarian offering there?
Gary: Yes, there are lots of vegetarian options in the cinema. There’s quite an international market coming to the cinema, so we’ve attacked it in a big way. We’ve made sure there are plenty of vegetarian dishes, even down to vegetarian burgers, prepared New York deli style. And I’m in the process of updating the menu there at the moment too, and of course there will be a lot of vegetarian dishes.
VB: You’ve also been involved with Foremarke Schools in a project to educate children about eating well. That seems to have an altruistic approach too, what drove you to doing something like this?
Gary: That’s still going on. The focus is on educating the children on the importance of eating fresh food, making things from scratch, just good clean food instead of all the junk that’s usually on offer. These children are our future public, so it’s important to educate them. And we’re hoping that we can influence the parents too in terms of what they’re going to eat.
VB: Finally, what do you think is the secret to your success?
Gary: I think consistency leads to success. Without any shadow of a doubt, if you can be consistent, the public respect and recognise that. You’ll always have a following of some sort, it’s a form of personal guarantee that every time they go somewhere, they know they’ll get food of a certain quality and they will be looked after.Sumati Menda
Never miss a post from VeggieBuzz!
Sign up for our newsletter to get the latest VeggieBuzz content delivered right to your inbox.