Three days, 20 top restaurants, ten celeb chefs and more dishes than you can shake a fork at â€“ it can only be the return of Taste of Dubaiâ€¦
Nothing says springtime in the city quite like a weekend spent lazing and grazing in the sun, and Taste of Dubai always brings ample opportunity for both. The festival is known for gathering a host of top name chefs and high-end restaurants around the table, and 2019 is no different. Between them, the brigade of top chefs will be hosting a series of masterclasses, demonstrations, tastings and competitions across the weekend, while a host of bars, live music stages and entertainment options will ensure even the most kitchen-calamitous attendees can find a home on the site.
But which are this yearâ€™s must-not-miss events? Hereâ€™s our pick of the 2019 programmeâ€¦
The Jif Big Baking Tent by ICCA
Whether youâ€™re a fan of The Great British Bake Off, or you just enjoy a good cake (and frankly, who doesnâ€™t?), this new-for-2019 tent is one you really wonâ€™t want to miss.
Hosted by Master PÃ¢tissier Eric Lanlard and a brigade of Dubaiâ€™s finest bakers, pastry chefs and international sweet-tooths, the series of specially-tailored masterclasses on offer here promise to have you icing your own spectacular creations in no time at all. From cakes to cookies and macarons to marzipan models of your favourite Hollywood stars (maybe), if youâ€™ve ever fancied your hand at creating dazzlingly decadent desserts, this is the place for you.
Al Ain Farms and Kibsons Cooking Challenge
Whether you fancy yourself as the masterchef in your household, or you just want to settle a score with your other half, this is the place for competitive cooks to get their hands dirty. A jam-packed schedule of cookery classes will be on offer across the full three days here, but itâ€™s the cooking challenges weâ€™ll be signing up in advance for â€“ the best home cooks can expect to win actual prizes as well as bragging rights for months to comeâ€¦
Crate & Barrel Chefâ€™s Theatre
A series of the cityâ€™s top chefs will spend time on the podium here across the weekend, offering up a host of top tips and techniques for anyone looking to up their own entertaining game. With everyone from local food-scene stalwarts Nick and Scott and Tarek Ibrahim through to Japanese celeb-chef Masaharu Morimoto, acclaimed international restaurateur David Myers and South African kitchen personality and TV-star Jenny Morris appearing at the pass, youâ€™re bound to pick up a few tricks of the trade. Arrive early enough to grab a front row pew and you might even get to sample their creations yourself.
MasterChef Australiaâ€™s Matt Preston will be jetting in to Taste of Dubai on Saturday March 9 to host a special MasterChef, the TV Experience â€˜Mystery Box Challengeâ€™ where amateur cooks will get a chance to get their dishes judged by Matt himself.
The entertainment stage
While weâ€™ll never tire of eating, sometimes you need to get up and move a little before you can start in on plate of food number ten, which is where the ever-popular entertainment stage comes into play. Headlining the opening night of theÂ Taste of Dubai will beÂ British pop icon and ex Spandau Ballet performer,Â Tony Hadley. The former lead singer will perform classic hits including True, Gold and Only When You Leave. Other performances will see you doing the Ballet Boogie along to Italian swing band Mark Zitti and The Coltelli Brothers, lounge to the jazz-soul sounds of South-London songstress Sam Tring, or party into the evening with DJ Sheps, a dancefloor veteran who has shared a bill with everyone from Boy George to Brandon Block.
While there may be far more to the programme than mere plates of food, with 20 of the cityâ€™s top restaurants taking up residence, sampling some signature dishes is a pretty good place to start, particularly given many will be priced from just Dhs15. Expect everything from Nobuâ€™s signature sushi and sashimi to Sevilleâ€™s authentically Spanish paella, Bread Street Kitchenâ€™s British classics and the Blacksmithâ€™s smokehouse meats to name but a few. Our advice? Arrive hungry
Dubai Media City Amphitheatre, Dubai Media City, Dubai, Thur 4pm to midnight, Fri noon to midnight, Sat noon to 11pm, March 7 to 9, Dhs95. Tel: (04) 3148222. tasteofdubaifestival.com