When Chef Uwe Micheel landed in the UAE on January 15, 1993 with his wife Annette and sons Paul and Max, the country was far from the culinary outpost it now is.
There weren’t many top notch restaurants, and sourcing good-quality ingredients was a challenge.
But Chef Uwe, who took the reins of InterContinental Hotel – now called Radisson Blu Dubai Deira Creek – as its executive chef, was determined to change that perception.
Over the years this stickler for perfection (‘blame it on my German genes’, he says) has ensured the fine dining industry has stayed up to date as far as adopting new world class cooking techniques are concerned and the hundreds of young chefs across the region have the requisite training to make the most of what’s available to them.
Twenty-four years since he first arrived here, Chef Uwe, 58, is today director of kitchen, the same one where he started out, president of the Emirates Culinary Guild, an organisation that nurtures the UAE’s culinary talent, and was recently voted Assistant Vice President in the Presidium of the World Chef’s Association (WACS).
‘It has been an amazing journey and Friday has been an integral part of it,’ he says.
The association started in 1998 and since then he has been in the magazine on several occasions.
From contributing recipes to the cookery section of the magazine to judging annual cooking competitions organised by the magazine, he and his team of chefs have etched their names in the hearts of Friday’s readers with their simple, fuss-free approach to cooking.
‘I still come across people who tell me they’ve saved some of my recipes that have appeared in the magazine over the years. Only recently I was judging a biryani competition for women and talk veered to Friday recipes and the cooking competitions conducted in the past,’ he says.
‘In fact I too have a fairly large collection of recipes that have been published in the magazine.’
Not one to live on past glories, Chef Uwe is focused on everything new. ‘It somehow has a positive impact on us as it gives us a fresh perspective on the present and offers scope for improvement,’ he says.
But does that mean everything new is good too?
‘No not really. We’ve had many great, good and average trends and concepts over the years.
‘But my favourite is back to basics where the focus is on good quality ingredients and simple but tasty dishes, not decoration,’ he says.
Is there any trend or concept that he’s not happy with?
‘Fusion,’ says the award-winning chef. ‘I call it confusion.’