While the region doesn’t currently have a tailored version of the show, it does get to host the first MasterChef, The TV Experience in the new Millennium Place Marina hotel.
Duncan Fraser-Smith, Director of Global F&B for UAE property developer and F&B specialist The First Group, which partnered with show producers Endemol Shine Group to create the restaurant, confirms some of the series around the world could end up filming challenges at the Dubai restaurant.
“Masterchef has continued to grow and there’s no better place in the world to put a concept like Masterchef than in a place like Dubai,” he says.
There’s no doubting that MasterChef has proved compelling viewing for millions, for many years.
Plucking wannabe chefs from the masses and giving them the chance to sink or shine on national – even international – TV is hard to resist.
People love to see good food and good people take chances, rough diamonds evolve into Michelin-standard chefs and all the tears, drama and elation that comes with that. MasterChef doesn’t offer big prize money, but winning it can truly change lives.
Just ask Simon Ward. The Mancunian was working in data science at a university until he became UK MasterChef champion in 2015.
Now he has two successful restaurants - one Michelin Star recommended - and a third about to open.
“MasterChef came along, flipped life on its head and I found myself where I should be. It gave me the opportunity to be a chef. That’s my passion, I’m in the kitchen, five days a week - that’s utopia for me.”
Simon, who has also had a book published, is among the MasterChef champions from around the world who have been confirmed for a week-long residency at the Dubai restaurant – and has something on the 36-dish menu chosen from recipes by 120 champions and finalists.
“To get to go cook in any kitchen is a privilege - the equipment and infrastructure they’ve got here is fantastic. It’s state of the art - it can only do good things for food,” he says.
In fact, when we spoke to Simon he’d already decided on what he would be serving up to guests in August having already had a brainstorming day with other UK champions.
Look out for duck fat mash potato, artichoke celeriac, truffle pear.
Likely to be among the diners is First Group’s Duncan Fraser-Smith.
“The items on the menu are from Masterchef champions,” he says. “It could be dishes inspired by their grandmother when they were growing up or a dish that Marco Pierre White said was the best he had tasted on Masterchef, but there is an emotional connection to each dish.
“There’s a story behind it and it was very important for us to make sure this type of restaurant, this type of experience, connected emotionally.
“We had Masterchef episodes screening in the office for months and you’d have people crying, people laughing all at the same time and we wanted to bring that into the dining experience.
“There’s heart and soul gone into this restaurant; it’s not gimmicky or to grab attention it’s really about conveying that emotional connection between food and the consumer. We’ve made sure we stayed true to that.”
“Masterchef is an amazing platform - it really gives the opportunity to explore the world of food and see what’s out there,” he said at the launch.
“It changes your life but it’s really the work you put in afterwards. I was a DJ for almost 20 years so it was a pretty easy transition because food and music have a unique relationship. It takes you to a certain place and time. It’s all about pleasing people and having a good time, making sure people are enjoying the food or enjoying the music.
“Winning MasterChef definitely changed my life - it also made me more motivated, more driven to get out and do stuff. I’ve spent over a year on the road at different food and wine festivals, expos, private events, stuff like that.”
Stuart is back in October with dishes that include confit duck tacos while his venison loin rubbed with coffee and chili – the entree that put him “over the top” to win the MasterChef finale – is on the menu.
“People are going to be receptive because it’s a recognisable brand. With the Mystery Box here we’ve put you right in the middle of the MasterChef competition kitchen.
“There are no restaurants in the world right now that are letting guests choose ingredients and then creating something special out of a choice. It’s a unique concept and only MasterChef can pull something like that off.”
MASTERCHEF, The TV Experience has 160 covers inside and out and operates 12pm-3pm and 7pm-11pm.
AMONG the menu dishes is seabass fillet baked in lavash bread and smoked aubergine vol au vent (by MasterChef UK 2017 champion Saliha Mahmood Ahmed), rolled mushroom gnocchi (MasterChef Australia 2014 finalist Laura Cassai), Mauritian warm octopus salad (MasterChef UK 2012 champion Shelina Permalloo) and apple bickies and cheese (Elena Duggan, MasterChef Australia 2016 champion).
DARING diners can opt for the Mystery Box. At AED300 for two, they select five ingredients from 10 protein, vegetable and condiment options and challenge Head Chef Margarita Vaamonde-Beggs and her team to bring the ingredients to life within 40 minutes.
FOR bookings and reservations email email@example.com go to www.masterchefdxb.com- or call 04 550 8111.