Dubai, the gleaming gem of the United Arab Emirates, has long been synonymous with luxury and opulence. Among its countless marvels, DREAM Dubai — located within the illustrious Address Beach Resort — stands out as the city’s nexus of extravagance and grandeur. As its much-anticipated Season 4 kicks off, this sought-after after-dark hotspot unveils a mesmerising experience that promises guests an enchanting look at nature’s raw beauty and captivating character.
Titled “The Wild Side,” this new season – which debuted on the first day of Eid Al-Fitr —promises to take guests on an enthralling expedition through nature’s hidden and untamed side, with a fascinating theme of a magical forest decorated with mystical flora, fauna, and wildlife. To this backdrop, the awe-inspiring theatrical show — presented by talented resident artists — incorporates animalistic movements, vibrant visuals, and transformative performances, bringing the stage to life with the sights and sounds of nature’s untamed glory.
Specially designed to entice all the senses, this extraordinary experience is complemented by an exceptional culinary offering and luxurious ambience. With the reimagined show comes an upgraded menu that spotlights Mediterranean-inspired cuisine and a selection of inventive drinks. With each creation carefully prepared, guests can look forward to a gourmet spectacle infused with diverse flavours, textures, and aromas.
FOUR sits down with DREAM Dubai’s Executive Chef, Mohamed Rifky, to learn more about his passion for the culinary arts and discover what epicurean delights guests can expect from this vibrant venue…
Tell us more about your background and what led you to become a chef…
From a tender age, my passion for culinary arts was ignited by observing my mother’s remarkable talent in the kitchen. Her ability to effortlessly transform ordinary ingredients into delectable dishes left me in awe. Upon arriving in Dubai at a young age, I embarked on a journey to pursue my culinary dreams. Along this path, I found myself captivated by the elegance and refined nature of French cuisine, which exudes a unique charm that continues to enthral me to this day.
Tell us a bit about your culinary career up until this point. Feel free to include any studies or experience you gained along the way, who you worked with, and where…
In 2009, my culinary journey took an incredible turn as I had the privilege to join the renowned chef Alain Ducasse’s restaurant in Dubai. Joining his team was a pivotal moment in my career, and it opened up a world of possibilities. Working alongside his talented team fueled my passion for ingredients, flavours, and the intricate techniques of French cuisine. It was an experience that left an indelible mark on me and ignited a desire to expand my knowledge even further.
Driven by my eagerness to learn, I sought opportunities in various French restaurants, immersing myself in the realms of both French and Mediterranean cuisines. In 2015, I had the pleasure of joining chef Colin Clague at the famous Qbara, where I honed my skills and deepened my understanding of culinary excellence. Collaborating with Chef Clague was a true privilege, and it allowed me to refine my craft and push the boundaries of my creativity.
After experiencing this enriching chapter, a new adventure awaited me when I contributed to the opening of Cove Beach. This opportunity allowed me to add a touch of my expertise to the vibrant culinary landscape of Dubai. It was a thrilling experience to be part of a team shaping a culinary destination from its inception. Soon after, I achieved another significant milestone in my career when I assumed the role of Sous Chef at LPM Restaurant & Bar, one of Dubai’s most highly-ranked restaurants. The responsibility of maintaining the restaurant’s reputation for culinary excellence and creating exceptional dining experiences was both exciting and challenging. It was during this time that I further refined my skills, leading a dedicated team and working tirelessly to exceed the expectations of our discerning guests.
All my dedication and unwavering commitment paid off in 2018 when I was offered the esteemed position of Head Chef at the renowned LPM Restaurant & Bar in Abu Dhabi. Over the course of three years, I led the kitchen with passion and precision, upholding the restaurant’s reputation for exceptional cuisine and delivering memorable dining experiences. After my time at LPM Restaurant & Bar, I had the incredible opportunity to join the DREAM team. Joining this exceptional group of culinary professionals was a dream come true. As part of the DREAM team, I am proud to run a successful and refined kitchen, striving to create delicate and exquisite food that leaves a lasting impression on our guests. It is a privilege to contribute to the development of DREAM’s reputation and be a part of its culinary legacy.
My culinary journey has been a series of remarkable experiences and enriching opportunities. Each chapter has shaped me into the chef I am today, and I am grateful for every step of the way. I am excited to continue exploring new flavours, experimenting with innovative techniques, and sharing my passion for the culinary arts with food enthusiasts around the world.
What/who would you say was the most significant experience/chef that impacted your culinary philosophy and why? What skills/knowledge really stuck with you from here?
My culinary philosophy is deeply rooted in my passion and love for transforming ordinary ingredients into extraordinary masterpieces. Throughout my culinary journey, I have gained self-confidence in the kitchen, and my humble beginnings have taught me that anyone with genuine dreams in their heart can achieve greatness.
Having spent over 20 years in Dubai, I have earned a prestigious position of authority. However, I have come to realise that true leadership means being unafraid to get my hands dirty. I firmly believe in leading by example, demonstrating to my team the value of hard work and unwavering attention to detail. By immersing myself in every aspect of the culinary process, I strive to inspire and motivate my team to reach new heights of excellence.
To me, the essence of success lies in the ability to create remarkable dishes from the simplest ingredients, showcasing the true artistry of culinary craftsmanship. It is my genuine passion and dedication that fuel my unwavering pursuit of culinary excellence, and I am committed to sharing this drive with my team, fostering an environment where everyone can thrive and contribute to the creation of unforgettable dining experiences.
What food and principles are most significant in your cuisine now, and how do you realise these in your dishes at your restaurant?
To me, cooking is an exquisite art form that flourishes when infused with love and passion. It is through this alchemy that I am able to craft culinary masterpieces, transcending the ordinary with the humblest of ingredients. With each dish I create, I pour my heart and soul into the process, allowing my passion to ignite a symphony of flavours and textures that awaken the senses. Whether working with a lavish array of ingredients or just a handful of simple elements, I approach each creation as an opportunity to express my creativity and bring joy to those who savour my culinary creations. For me, the true magic of cooking lies in the ability to transform the ordinary into the extraordinary, to paint a canvas of flavours that captivate and inspire.
How would you define DREAM’s culinary philosophy? And why does this kind of cuisine resonate with you?
At DREAM, our culinary philosophy revolves around a steadfast commitment to excellence, driven by an unwavering pursuit of the best and freshest ingredients available. We never compromise on quality, ensuring that every dish we present reflects the meticulous attention to detail and dedication we hold dear.
Our goal is to create an unparalleled dining experience for our clients, where they can truly appreciate the remarkable craftsmanship and artistry that goes into each culinary creation. We believe that every bite should be an unparalleled journey where flavours harmonise and textures delight the senses. In addition to our culinary expertise, we pride ourselves on providing spectacular entertainment that complements our exceptional cuisine. By intertwining these elements, we aim to surpass expectations, leaving a lasting impression on our guests. We invite our clients to indulge in an extraordinary gastronomic adventure where every aspect, from the finest ingredients to meticulous preparation, showcases our unwavering commitment to delivering an unparalleled experience. At DREAM, we believe that culinary excellence and spectacular entertainment go hand in hand, elevating the overall ambience and ensuring that every visit is an unforgettable celebration of taste and enjoyment.
What is the décor at DREAM like, and what ambience do you want to try and create?
DREAM exudes refinement, mirroring the essence of its meticulously curated menu. The interior has been thoughtfully crafted to embody the epitome of luxury and good taste, a sentiment that is precisely reflected in the culinary creations we proudly serve.
At DREAM, every night is a remarkable affair where energy levels soar, captivating shows unfold, and our guests depart with unforgettable memories that fill their hearts.
What memories/sensations do you want diners to leave with?
At DREAM, my ultimate aspiration is for guests to depart with indelible memories of an exceptional dining experience, where tantalising flavours dance upon their palates, accompanied by awe-inspiring performances that leave them spellbound. I strive to create a culinary journey that lingers in their mouths, enticing them to return for more, eager to relish the delectable delights that await them.
What inspires you most when cooking and thinking of dishes, and how do you remain continually creative/dedicated?
With unwavering dedication, our exceptional team at DREAM and I are committed to delivering the pinnacle of dinner shows in Dubai. We continually evolve, adapting our offerings to the seasons, ensuring that each visit is met with delightful surprises that leave our guests in awe. Our collective passion drives us to consistently provide the very best, delivering unforgettable experiences that leave a lasting impression and compel guests to return time and time again.
Tell us about what some of your favourite ingredients are to use and why?
As a passionate culinary enthusiast, I have a deep appreciation for the uniqueness of every ingredient. I don’t have a single favourite ingredient because I believe they all have their own charm and potential to enhance a dish. Ultimately, it’s the preference of my clients that determines the popularity of one dish over another.
However, if I were to choose one ingredient that holds a special place in my heart, it would be the artichoke. Its versatility and ease of cooking make it a delight to work with. Whether you want to create a sweet, salty, or sour dish, the artichoke can effortlessly adapt to your culinary desires. In fact, it takes centre stage in our renowned DREAM salad, which happens to be our best-selling dish.
Where do you source your products, and why from these producers/locations?
At my establishment, we prioritise freshness by diligently sourcing our produce from local producers. We firmly believe in supporting the community and embracing the abundance of local resources available to us. By championing locally sourced ingredients, we ensure that our dishes are not only of the highest quality but also celebrate the flavours and sustainability of our region. With a commitment to freshness and a dedication to promoting local producers, we strive to offer our guests an authentic and environmentally conscious dining experience.
Do you have a favourite or signature dish?
One dish that truly holds a special place in my heart is the exquisite grilled octopus. I have developed a unique method of blanching the octopus in a pot of Earl Grey tea, which has proven to be a game-changer. This technique not only tenderises the meat to perfection but also imparts a delicate, fragrant flavour that beautifully complements the octopus’s natural sweetness. Every bite is an explosion of taste and aroma, making it a standout dish in my culinary repertoire.
Additionally, I am excited to introduce a new addition to our menu: the aubergine parmigiana. This culinary masterpiece showcases layers of succulent aubergine, lovingly embraced by a luscious sauce, resulting in a harmonious blend of flavours and textures. The visual appeal of this dish is as captivating as its taste is exceptional. I am thrilled to unveil this tantalising creation as my newest recipe, just in time for the summer season. I have no doubt that it will bring pure culinary bliss to those who savour it, evoking a delightful symphony of satisfaction for their taste buds.
Tell us more about the current menu at the restaurant and its highlights. What dishes can diners expect?
Our culinary repertoire at DREAM encompasses a diverse array of Mediterranean dishes carefully crafted to cater to a wide range of palates. With our extensive menu, we take pride in offering an exquisite selection that promises to satisfy and delight every discerning taste. Whether you crave bold and vibrant flavours or prefer a more subtle and nuanced culinary experience, our Mediterranean-inspired dishes are thoughtfully designed to captivate and please all palates.
What would you say sets your restaurant apart from others in the city?
At DREAM, we take pride in providing a complete dining experience that encompasses every aspect of indulgence. From the moment you step into our luxurious settings, you will be immersed in an ambience of refined elegance. Our attentive and dedicated service staff ensures that your every need is met with grace and precision. As you peruse our delectable menu, prepared with utmost care and creativity, you will embark on a culinary journey that delights the senses. But the experience doesn’t stop there. We go above and beyond by offering spectacular performances that elevate your time with us to new heights. From breathtaking entertainment to captivating shows, we aim to mesmerise and create lasting memories. At DREAM, we are the complete package, combining luxurious settings, refined service, a mouthwatering menu, and awe-inspiring performances to create a lavish dining experience that lingers in your mind long after you leave.
Any advice you’d give to your younger self or the next generation of chefs?
If I were to offer advice to my younger self or the next generation of chefs, I would emphasise the importance of unwavering determination and a relentless pursuit of culinary excellence. Throughout my own journey, I have continuously strived to refine my skills as a chef, never ceasing in my quest for improvement. Over time, my passion for French and Mediterranean cuisines has flourished and evolved, thanks to my dedication and immersion in the artistry of these culinary traditions. I have constantly sought to enhance my understanding, techniques, and creativity, bringing exquisite flavours to life. My culinary journey remains an ongoing adventure, driven by a deep love for the craft and an unyielding commitment to honing my skills in order to deliver extraordinary dining experiences.
If you could convey one message with your restaurant and/or cuisine, what would it be?
I strive to create an atmosphere where guests can embark on a culinary journey that transcends their expectations and transports them to a realm of extraordinary flavours, experiences, and memories. I want to inspire individuals to embrace their dreams, take risks, and pursue their passions with unwavering determination. Through the artistry of food, I hope to ignite a spark within each guest, encouraging them to DARE TO DREAM (also our slogan) and embark on their own unique path of fulfilment and success.
Tell us about your plans for the rest of 2023 – is there anything special lined up or any goals/dreams you are hoping to achieve?
For the remainder of the year, we have an array of thrilling projects in the works that promise to captivate and enchant. From orchestrating breathtaking weddings, collaborating with esteemed brands, and hosting our legendary seasonal special shows, the excitement knows no bounds. Each event will be a testament to our unwavering commitment to crafting extravagant, grand, and spectacular experiences as we consistently strive to exceed expectations and create memories that will be cherished forever.
To find out more about DREAM Dubai and book, contact the venue using the below details: