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Taste Kitchen, Dubai

1 November 2014

Acclaimed Dubai chefs Nick Alvis and Scott Price have traded high-end dining for unfussy, family-friendly food with the launch of their latest venture

Chefs Nick Alvis and Scott Price met while working at Gordon Ramsay’s Claridge’s restaurant in London, before escaping the heat of the celebrity chef’s kitchen to run Ramsay’s Verre at Hilton Dubai Creek in Dubai, and then taking over the space in 2011 and transforming it into one of the city’s most talked about restaurants, the award-winning Table 9 by Nick and Scott. 

Now, having left Hilton and Table 9 last year, Nick and Scott have traded ‘fancy’ fare for authentic, family-friendly cooking with the launch of their café concept Taste Kitchen. “Taste Kitchen is about simple food, great flavours and quality ingredients put together in a modern, fuss-free way that tastes great – hence the name,” says Scott. 

A relaxed, friendly atmosphere, where everyone is welcome, whether for a full meal or just a quick juice, on their own or with all the family, rests at the heart of the Taste Kitchen concept. 

With the inaugural location having opened in Jumeirah’s Mercato Mall, and two others set to follow in Silicon Oasis and Bur Dubai, Nick and Scott have decided to firmly set down roots in Dubai’s vibrant local food scene, rather than return to their native UK and its high-profile Michelin-starred restaurants. “The city is young, the food scene is still developing and there’s lots of opportunity and scope here. People are willing to embrace change, they’re willing to take a risk and don’t shy away from pushing things forward or trying out new ideas,” Scott says, explaining their decision to stay in Dubai.

“Over the past five years there’s been a move away from simply shipping international names or brands over here, and instead we’ve started to celebrate homegrown talent, which is great. Things will hopefully continue to grow and become more exciting… Dubai deserves to be an exciting global food destination.” 

The Brits might have left the long hours of restaurant life behind them, but their new venture presents a whole other challenge as the brand fast-expands with the backing of the Dubai-based Albwardy Investment Group, which owns Spinneys supermarkets and the local rights to the Waitrose supermarkets. Their aim is to establish Taste Kitchen as a strong brand, with a reputation for good food, quality and consistency.

“There has always been much more to running a restaurant than just cooking. I think we all stopped counting the hours we work many, many years ago, it’s not a career you choose for the social life, that’s for sure,” says Scott with a laugh. “It’s been a very interesting learning experience and a great challenge and opportunity. 

"We’ve utilised the values and skills that we’ve acquired over the years – from working our way up the ranks as chefs in London, to being managers at Table 9. We are all very hands on and one of us is there every day to support the teams in the restaurants. Taking a step back and giving our team a chance to prove themselves and take more responsibility is something we firmly believe in. Not a lot of chefs get to design a kitchen from scratch, to decide on the crockery, the décor, the menu – it’s been very exciting to do this from scratch. It’s great to write something down or draw it, and then see it come to life.” 

But, why leave Table 9 at the height of its success? “We are very proud of the team we built and the success we had with Table 9. It was a tough decision to leave, as we had been there over four years and achieved a lot, but we were offered an opportunity to create something new, completely from scratch with our own ideas and designs,” says Scott.

As a homegrown brand, Taste Kitchen has the advantage of knowing its customers and is focused on giving them what they want, and more. Since its October launch, the venture’s menu has proved popular, with standout dishes including smoked mackerel on toast, fresh pizzas cooked in a gas-fired pizza oven and chocolate mousse with malt ice cream. 

Taste Kitchen is also drawing Dubai’s demanding breakfast crowd, especially for the popular weekend brunch, with its signature big breakfast, fresh granola and yoghurt, cured salmon and egg dishes on toasted rye. Fresh juices at the café’s juice bar are all made to order in-house. 

“We’re a completely homegrown restaurant and are highly tailored to the market. We’ve added a lot of personal touches and done plenty of research into what people want. We have a bar as a focal point of the restaurant, where all our juices, smoothies, iced waters and coffees are all made in front of the guest to order,” Scott says. “We want to offer high-quality, great tasting food that has a sense of our personality about it, but still appeals to someone who wants to go out for breakfast on a Friday morning. Relaxed, simple, tasty food is what Taste Kitchen is all about.” 

Not ones to rest on their laurels, while Taste Kitchen is Nick and Scott’s core focus at present, the chefs have also hit the road to see what’s happening in the global food scene and are working on some other exciting ideas for the near future. “There is a lot of opportunity in this fast growing city. We have worked hard to build a solid reputation in Dubai and are very excited about building on that with other projects in the future,” Scott says. 

facebook.com/TasteKitchenUAE

Words and images: Sandra Tinari


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