Giulia Sgarbi, Izu Ani, Raz Rahav, Tala Bashmi, Moustafa Elrefaey, Will Goldfarb, Kamal Mouzawak and William Reed, the protagonists of the first edition of the MENA's 50Best, in Abu Dhabi, in the Arab Emirates. The winner? We'll find out on Tuesday
The top of gastronomy is summoned in Abu Dhabi for the first edition of the MENA's 50Best. MENA is the acronym for Middle East and North Africa, a macro-region that includes 19 countries: Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates and Yemen. Two hundred and fifty voters from the area that includes Africa and Asia voted 7 preferred restaurants each: the total of these votes will make the list of the “50 Best Restaurants of the Middle East and North Africa” including the very best, on Tuesday 8th at 5.30 pm CET.
The mechanics are the same of the World’s 50 Best, which for the past 20 years has been making a very delicious global list (next event in Moscow in July 2022) but also two continental 50best: 50 Best Asia (9 editions) and Latin America (8). Now there's this fourth chapter, the third branch that perhaps is even more interesting than the previous two for two gastro-political reasons: none of the 19 countries in the MENA region was ever considered by the Michelin guide. Hence the effort of giving a global showcase to these countries with a much lower GDP, which have found it hard to stand out in the global fine dining scene, compressed as they are between the East and West, is even more admirable.
Clearly, among the stories of the 380 million people inhabiting the area between Rabat and Dubai, there are some magnificent ones, of patrons, cooks and waiters. And many of them are here now, in the most discreet and relaxed capital of the 7 United Arab Emirates, a very young country (they became independent 50 years ago), populated by 80% foreigners and led by the economic and media power of Dubai, which is also the current location of the World Fair (which went below expectations, due to the pandemic).
Tala Bashmi, chef from Bahrain at Fusions by Tala
Israeli Raz Rahav, Ocd, Tel Aviv
Izu Ani, from Nigeria, at the helm of Gaia, Greek-Mediterranean cuisine in Dubai
Lebanese Kamal Mouzawak
The fortress of Qasr al Hosn, Abu Dhabi. Built in 1790, it is now the location of an interesting museum that retraces the foundations of the United Arab Emirates, 7 independent regions since 1971
A detail of the Louvre in Abu Dhabi: thanks to an agreement with the French, it now hosts 600 artworks from the French museum
A detail of the Sheikh Zayed Grande Mosque, an impressive architectural crossing established in 2007, after 11 years of work. It's a hymn to dialogue among cultures, whether Muslim or not
King prawns, coconut, curry and mustard seeds, a delicious tasting at Punjab Grill in Abu Dhabi
Raw lobster from Zuma Abu Dhabi, an infallible "Japanese fine dining chain"
French-style escargots. Where? At Petit Bateau
Ethereal pain au chocolat for breakfast at Conrad Abu Dhabi Etihad Towers
Translated into English by Slawka G. Scarso
Reviews, recommendations and trends from the four corners of the planet, signed by all the authors of Identità Golose
born in Milan, 1973, freelance journalist, coordinator of Identità Golose World restaurant guidebook since 2007, he is a contributor for several magazines and teaches History of gastronomy and Culinary global trends into universities and institutes.
Happy faces yesterday in Valencia: scientist Malena Martinez and cooks Pia Leon and Virgilio Martinez, the 3 pillars of Central, now at the top of the World's 50Best 2023
Himanshu Saini, chef at Trèsind Studio in Dubai (UAE, one Michelin star) and a signature dish from his tasting menu 'Tasting India' (Banana, raw and ripened, served on a miso chilli tartlet with yellow peppers, smoked tomato chutney and balsamic vinegar)
Alexandre Mazzia won the American Express One To Watch 2022 award with his restaurant in Marseille, according to the 50Best. Photo by Matthieu Cellard