It’s all on the table for star chefs at DWTC


The curtain is set to rise in Dubai on a one-of-a-kind, talent-packed Chefs’ Theatre at The Speciality Food Festival, the original gourmet and artisan food event for the Middle East, Africa and Asia, which will run at the Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC) from 30 October – 1 November.

The high-profile list features executive and Michelin-starred chefs from eight countries, alongside the UAE’s rising talent and pizza masters. What’s more, theatrical features will include demo kitchens, pastry and gelato labs; and pizza acrobatics, all displayed on eight mega screens for enhanced audience participation and set for dramatic animation by American celebrity masterchef Walter Potenza. All of which results in an unparalleled culinary experience for all.

The unique approach of the Chefs’ Theatre has been carefully crafted to make use of culinary art as a means of focusing regional F&B industry minds on the latest trends impacting the sector, according to Chef Diego Aira Piva, Managing Director of Italian Restaurant Consulting (IRC), organiser of the special showcase.

Spectacular skills on show

“Every year we try to create the best environment where F&B producers, manufacturers and operators can meet the chefs,” explained Chef Aira. “The chefs are the end users and are among the most important actors of the industry and at the Chefs’ Theatre we give them the opportunity to showcase their cuisine and culinary skills playing with the best ingredients. One of the most important characteristics of the Chefs’ Theatre is that all the activities are planned to be very spectacular like a real show. That’s extremely important to us.”

Seats at the theatre are free with registration at attendees will have the opportunity to interact with the chief protagonists in six daily masterclasses devoted to a range of topics, including: ‘The secrets and techniques needed to select, cut and cook the perfect meat’; ‘How to add value and increase margins by using premium organic products in modern restaurant cuisine’; ‘How simple yet contemporary ethnic dishes can reinvigorate menus’ and ‘What the theatre’s VIP guest chefs use in their signature dishes’.

“New trends, new products, old and new techniques will be compared and explained alongside the chef’s stories and projected future of specific dishes and traditions, ethnic cuisines and the importance of quality ingredients,” added Chef Aira.

“Our industry is always evolving so it is important that we stay abreast of the trends. To achieve this, it is crucial that we keep in constant contact with suppliers and food producers about markets and seasonal trends. The Chefs’ Theatre will be a great place for curious minds and friends who want to see the latest trends and techniques in action,” explained cast member Chef Lino Sauro, from Sicily in Southern Italy, who will showcase his seafood skills with a Sicilian touch. “I love the vibe of the Dubai food scene and I’m curious to come back to The Speciality Food Festival to see the latest trends and how they are evolving.”

Talented young chefs ready for showdown

On-stage action at the Chefs Theatre will include the Young Chef Hotel Challenge featuring 30 talented chefs under 30, from the leading hotels around the region. Teams of three chefs from each hotel will be tasked with preparing a three-course menu from a supplied black box in just one hour. Judges will be looking for natural talent and adaptability with ingredients shared only as the competition begins. The two winning teams will win a place in the world final in Italy.

The theatre will also see the UAE’s leading pizza makers bid for the title of ‘Master of Pizza’ with the winner going on to represent the Emirates at the Pizza World Championship in Italy. There will also be an award for the creator of The Best Tiramisu in Dubai.

Showcasing his skills during a live demo will be Chef Giorgio Nava, one of South Africa’s most successful chefs and restaurateurs. He has cooked with some of the finest chefs in the world at international food conferences and in 2013 triumphed at the World Pasta Championship.

“I will be showcasing the use of unusual, economic and interesting beef cuts, various cooking techniques, also carving and serving methods. A few of my trends at the moment is ‘nose to tail’, that is using almost every part of the animal, the use of free range and organic meats and also food bowls,” said Chef Giorgio. “I am looking forward to seeing everyone from all walks of life at Chefs’ Theatre, from the homemakers looking to learn more about preparing and cooking meat to fellow chefs that might be hopefully interested in my work.”


The Chefs’ Theatre will be housed in DWTC’s Hall 3 alongside The Speciality Food Festival, which will feature 137 exhibitors from 26 countries all promoting fine foods and premium gifts. The festival is co-located alongside the Global Date Market, SEAFEX Middle East, yummex Middle East and GulfHost, DWTC’s bespoke food trade shows. Together, the combined events, now a global centre for the international foodservice and retail trade, are expected to attract upwards of 15,000 buyers and tens of thousands of visitors.