As I spend more and more time in this awe inspiring and nightlife orientated city that is Dubai, I come to realise how easy it is for venues to mushroom out of nowhere one minute and for others to close the next. So, it comes to no surprise that in such a fiercely competitive and overly crowded market, simply serving excellent food is no longer sufficient to ensure the success of a particular venue. Just like in any other sectors, restaurants and hotel brands are having to reinvent themselves constantly to safeguard their respective hegemonies thereby enabling them to remain relevant and attractive to the growing number of demanding foodies throughout the UAE.
Last month I was lucky enough to experience such strategy being laid out, as I visited one of the Fairmont on the Palm’s newest addition to its already impressive food and beverage collection. The ‘Chef’s Palette’, which sounds like it could be any kind of restaurant serving classical European cuisine, is in fact a cooking studio headed up by Belgian Michelin Star trained Chef, Romain Van Durmen, offering foodies masterclasses and lessons thereby allowing them to explore the inner chef within them. Whilst it is possible to order online MasterClasses from the world’s very best chefs such as Thomas Keller or Wolgang Puck, the ‘Chef’s Pallette’ is a live, interactive and above all fun evening, bringing to life all the theory and secrets that lie inside some of the world’s most renowned restaurants and kitchens.
Romain Van Durmen, whose knowledge in the kitchen does not match how youthful he looks, has already well over ten years of culinary experience behind him, having gone up through the ranks and gained much of his formative skills in some of Belgium’s most demanding Michelin Star restaurants. His first role, which saw him undertake a “stage” or internship, was at the two Michelin starred restaurants “Le Château Du Mylord” run by the famous Thomas brothers, as well as at “Sea Grill” headed by Yves Mattagne who has comfortably retained both of his start year in, year out. After a stint as Chef de Partie at the Luxury Brasserie in Belgium, Romain picked his knives and packed his aprons, having been offered a role at “Zaranda”, headed by Michelin Star Chef Fernando Pérez Arellano. Aside from working inside some of Europe’s top kitchens, Romain also created in 2011 his very own catering service called “Rendez-Vous Chez Vous”, servicing a range of clientele from private homes to large company events. In 2014, he started plying his trade at the Ritz Carlton in the Dubai Financial Centre and thereby began his Middle Eastern journey. He was recently appointed Chef de Cuisine for the Chef’s Pallette at the Fairmont on the Palm.
The beautifully decorated studio offers individual working stations where one is able to put into practise the tips and tricks Chef Romain divulges along the culinary journey. Each station is equipped with top of the range Gaggenau appliances, thereby enhancing your cooking skills, and offers a phenomenal view of Romain’s own work station which is filmed live and retransmitted on a flat screen screen above. Alongside the cooking stations, there is a long table which can sit up to ten people and guests are invited to enjoy the food they have created thereafter. The shelves that line the wall behind the table are stacked with traditional looking jars each filled with condiments and pickled goods; artisanal looking metal recipients containing oil sit side by side with fine wine and champagne bottles giving the space a welcoming “homey” and cozy feel to it.
The diversity of the classes on offer means that there is something to enjoy for everyone really makes the experience so unique and appealing. There is quite literally, something for everyone.
Junior Chef’s Cooking Classes:
If you’re looking to inculcate the rudimentary of cooking to your child, ensuring he doesn’t live just off bake beans on toast at University then this is a good place to start.
- 10 week junior program in partnership with ICCA (International Center for Culinary Arts, Dubai): from 1500 AED
- Birthday Parties: Price per child starts from 250 AED
The perfect occasion to work one on one with a Michelin Star trained chef and learn how to make food from various parts of the world, whether it is sushi rolls or Belgian waffles with instant nitrogen ice cream. You’ll be able to enjoy a complementary lunch at Flow Kitchen as part of your experience.
Every Wednesday from 12:00pm l 2 hours
This is where you can really take your cooking game to the next level. Enjoy a three-hour class with Chef Romain, every evening from 7:30pm for three hours and with an optional wine pairing if you so wish.
Some of the Classes include but are not limited to “Shellfish”, “Vegetarian”, “Be Healthy” and many more.
The Professional Chef’s Palette Program
A 10-week culinary journey that will enhance your skills and take your cooking game to the next level. On this course you will learn how to debone fish and meat, turn vegetables, cooking using the sous-vide technique and make elegant pastries such as macaroons.
10 classes l 3 hours each
Chef’s table dinners
The ultimate dining experience which will see you indulge in an unforgettable and highly intimate dining experience inside the cooking studio. Dining options include “Seafood”, “Chef Romain’s Favourites” and Vegetables.
- 4, 5 and 6 course menu: from 445AED per person and 595 AED with wine pairing
The Chef’s Palette VIP Brunch Experience
A world class brunch set in the intimacy of Chef Romain’s cooking studio with a dedicated steward serving up the delectable dishes prepared by your very own Chef.
Every Friday from 12:00pm to 3:30pm l booking available for the tables of 6-12 people