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MENA’s 50 best restaurants: Abu Dhabi to celebrate culinary excellence

It’s going to be a sizzling action-packed weekend in the UAE capital with the inaugural Middle East & North Africa’s 50 Best Restaurants list, which will be revealed on February 7. This is the very first time the World’s 50 Best Restaurants group is preparing a list highlighting the MENA region. This means that 50 outstanding restaurants across the region will be recognised during the grand ceremony held at Conrad Abu Dhabi Etihad Towers.

A dish by German chef Tim Raue, who will be conducting a masterclass as part of the 50 Best Restaurant events week.

Chefs and foodies will be holding their breath to find out who picks up the top spots at the awards ceremony. But there’s more than just grandiose award shows to look forward to, as culinary experts from across the globe will converge at Abu Dhabi and many of them will take part in an open-to-the-public series of events, from February 4 to 8, in partnership with Abu Dhabi’s Department of Culture and Tourism.

There will be dining events, masterclasses and the region’s first #50BestTalks, an event that brings “50 leading thinkers in the food sector to talk about how they can unite and collaborate better”. This will be held on February 5.

So what’s in it for you? While the list itself can be used as reference point for your next gastro-tourism holiday, you can also attend masterclasses and experiential meal experiences put together by chefs from the current and previous World’s 50 Best Restaurants lists.

Each masterclass will see chefs revealing the secrets behind their signature dishes in a live cooking experience, followed by tastings and a Q&A session. There’s also the option to buy a ticket to all three masterclasses on Friday, February 4, for Dh750.

Tim Raue masterclass

Tim Raue - Wikipedia

One of the stars of Netflix’s Chef’s Table, Raue leans heavily on Japanese techniques and ingredient preparation, with minimal use of carbohydrates and heavy sauces. In this masterclass, he will show guests how to make his signature wasabi langoustine and Sanghachi pike perch.

Friday, February 4; 3.15pm-4pm; Dh400; Liwa Suite, Yas Marina Circuit, Yas Island

Pia Leon masterclass

Pia Léon - Hidden treasures | KTCHNrebel

Voted the World’s Best Female Chef 2021, Leon is the cook behind world-famous restaurants, including Peru’s Central, which she runs with husband Virgilio Martinez, and Kjolle. This masterclass will showcase her country’s produce in Abu Dhabi.

Friday, February 4; 4.45pm-5.30pm; Dh400; Liwa Suite, Yas Marina Circuit, Yas Island

Will Goldfarb masterclass

Chef's Table" Will Goldfarb (TV Episode 2018) - IMDb

Another star of Netflix’s Chef’s Table, Goldfarb worked in France, Spain, Australia, the UK and his native US before deciding to settle in Bali, Indonesia, to open Room 4 Dessert. For this session, Goldfarb will prepare and reveal the secrets behind three decadent desserts that mark a milestone in his career.

Friday, February 4; 6.15pm-7pm; Dh400; Liwa Suite, Yas Marina Circuit, Yas Island

Collaboration Dining Series: Tim Raue x Dai Pai Dong

Chef Nie Dong has teamed up with 50 Best chef Tim Raue to create a collaborative eight-course menu available for one evening only.

One of the most hotly anticipated dinners of the 50 Best event week, the Dai Pai Dong team led by chef Dong, will team up with 50 Best chef Tim Raue to create a collaborative eight-course menu that can be experienced for one night only. Raue will add his signature langoustine, pike perch and famous duck soup dishes to Dong’s Cantonese cuisine, which includes barbecued meat and roast duck.

Friday, February 4; 8pm-11.30pm; Dh888 per person; Dai Pai Dong, Rosewood Abu Dhabi Hotel; 02 813 5588; abudhabi.daipaidong@rosewoodhotels.com

Experiential lunch with Pia Leon

This experience begins with a boat ride that whisks guests away to the gorgeous Nurai Island where they will be treated to “game-changing” Peruvian cuisine by chef Leon. No menu has been revealed as of now, but there is the promise of “plenty of surprises and culinary delights”.

Saturday, February 5; 1pm-4pm; Dh2,500 per person; Zaya Nurai Island

Collaboration Dining Series: Natsuko Shoji x Tori No Su

For the very finest in Japanese fusion, look no further than a special evening with Natsuko Shoji, Asia’s Best Pastry Chef 2020, and the chef-owner of restaurant Ete in Tokyo. Shoji is known for her intricate desserts – trained in the classical French style – and will host a one-off dining experience at Japanese restaurant Tori No Su at Conrad Abu Dhabi Etihad Towers.

Tuesday, February 8; 8pm onwards; Dh480 per person; Conrad Abu Dhabi Etihad Towers

50 Best Experiential Dining: Dave Pynt: Playing with Fire

Australian chef Dave Pynt is known for turning up the heat with his grilling skills that are best showcased in his restaurant Burnt Ends in Singapore, part of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list 2021. Pynt will be cooking at Abu Dhabi’s BBQ Al Qasr at a one-off beachfront barbecue where he’ll expose meat and vegetables to smoke and fire. The meal ends with desserts by candlelight.

Tuesday, February 8; 8pm onwards; Dh950 per person; BBQ Al Qasr, Emirates Palace

Foodies, looks like this weekend has a lot to serve you. Which event are you most excited about?

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