Leading female pastry chefs from some of Dubai’s leading hotels and bakeries recently participated in a roundtable discussion organised on behalf of CNIEL – the French Dairy Board and the European Union.
The regional talents in the all-female cast included Saudi Arabia’s Chef Najla Shamiri, the QE2’s Chef Ida Martin, Chef Hind Al Mulla, Founder and Director of Home Bakery, and Chef Aaliya Randeree, the Head Chef and Founder of Butterworks Bakery. Plus, the 2017 French-based Pastry Chef of the Year, Chef Nina Métayer, and UAE-based Consultant Chef Liz Stevenson rounded out the group at the event, which was hosted at the Le Meridien Mina Seyahi Beach Resort & Marina.
During the roundtable they discussed various topics, ranging from sustainability, sourcing materials, teamwork, creating the perfect taste with the finest ingredients and quashing an outdated negative myth of female chefs’ abilities in the kitchen.
“All individuals bring something different to the kitchen regardless of gender. It should be about creating something that tastes good and is representative of the individual,” Stevenson said. “There is still more that can be done to celebrate female chefs, however, looking around the table today we’re lucky to have a wealth of talented women performing at the very top of their game.”
(L-R): Chef Nina Métayer, Chef Najla Shamiri, Chef Aaliya Randeree, Chef Liz Stevenson, Chef Hind Al Mulla and Chef Ida Martin
Métayer, who places emphasis on teamwork in the kitchen, highlighted the importance of everyone collaborating in the kitchen for the best results, whether male or female. “It’s all about creating the best possible taste,” she added.
Several chefs also discussed their frustrations about people focusing on food looking ‘Instagram ready’ rather than tasting good. “Taste is absolutely crucial in everything we do, it should touch every part of the soul, of course it should look good, but this should never be sacrificed for taste,” Martin said.
As part of the international showcase of French cream in Dubai, the chefs were invited to whip up a storm and develop their own unique creations using the finest European cream and an assortment of other ingredients.
The quintessential array of treats included an “Authentically Emirati” entremet with cardamom and cinnamon whipped cream by Al Mulla, Martin’s chocolate and orange entremet with pistachio whipped ganache and a walnut and dark chocolate pavlova, honey and rose infused whipped cream by Randeree. Additionally, Stevenson and Shamiri showcased a dark chocolate cream, iced yogurt, nut caramel and black sauce and a sticky date cake with salted caramel and infused Arabic coffee cream, respectively. Meanwhile, Métayer created a creamy grapefruit meringue and vanilla tonka Chantilly.
Concluding the roundtable, Marie-Laure Martin, International Project Manager from CNIEL said: “Today has been about showcasing the incredible recipes and talent of the chefs from both here in the Middle East and internationally. The flair and passion on show has been incredible and we have been treated to some of the best pastries in the world.
She added cream and butter are vital ingredients in every pastry as their rich flavour and distinctive taste help make the best pastries found anywhere. The versatility of EU cream is “unique in that there is no other product on the market that comes close to duplicating the taste or consistency,” she also said.