International masterchefs, Shinichiro Takagi of Japan and German master patissier Ernst Knam, took time off from their starring roles in the Gourmet Abu Dhabi culinary festival to try their hand at a ‘Catch & Cook’ experience organised by the UAE capital’s super-luxurious Emirates Palace.
The culinary duo – self-confessed angling novices – rose shortly after sunrise to board an 88-foot ‘Majesty 88’ Gulf Craft super-yacht at the Emirates Palace Marina and, hopes of an easy catch running high, head-out into the dazzling Arabian Gulf.
“It was a beautiful experience and the lovely blue sea reminded me of Sardinia,” said Knam, who runs multiple businesses in Milan and led a four-man Italian team to victory in last year’s Gelato World Cup. “The red snapper we caught were tricky to pull in – especially as mine was bigger than Shinichiro’s!”
With his six pound-four ounce catch weighing in slightly less than the six pound and10 ounce snapper landed by Knam – Chef Tagaki, whose elegant and delicate cuisine traditionally includes seasonal fish dishes, was defiant.
“My fish may have been a little smaller but I still really enjoyed cruising on such a calm, beautiful sea. The yacht was amazing; it had more bedrooms than my house,” said Takagi, dubbed by his home media as one of the country’s hottest young chefs.
“Next time I come to Abu Dhabi I want to bring my whole family for a vacation. Maybe my brother will come too. He goes fishing almost every week and loves travelling overseas for sport fishing. He will be very jealous when I tell him about my Abu Dhabi adventure,” added the executive chef and owner of ‘Zeniya’ restaurant in Japan’s Kanazawa city.
“I enjoyed the fishing but I think my expertise definitely lies in Kaiseki cuisine; the anglers of Abu Dhabi have nothing to fear from me,” said the chef who has taken the multi-course seasonal tradition that evolved alongside ancient Japanese tea-making ceremonies to haute cuisine levels.
Back ashore, Chef Tagaki took in the life-size Japanese tea house within Emirates Palace. “I was not expecting to see this,” he added. “An old-style tea house is difficult to find in Japan now. I would love to come back and prepare the kaiseki tea ceremony here.”
Welcoming the masterchefs back to his hotel’s luxury surroundings where the catch of the day was promptly grilled and served, Alexander Schneider, Hotel Manager, Emirates Palace, said the ‘Catch & Cook’ gourmet expedition has all the potential of being a major tourist draw.
“We rolled out the scheme in December and already more than 60 people have experienced this true Arabian Gulf adventure” said Schneider. “I can happily report that no-one has come back to shore empty-handed - the emirate’s fish bite every time! The package has already proven popular with our leisure guests and corporate or incentives groups and the flexibility of what is a genuine custom-made product means it suits all sorts of traveller. It is a great addition to our diverse range of guest experiences.”
The ‘Catch & Cook’ experience, which can be organised for groups of between two-to-10 people, lets guests utilise a fleet of modern yachts docked in the Emirates Palace Marina and take to the Arabian Gulf for a luxury fishing adventure, before returning to the hotel’s immaculate white sand beach to throw catch on the grill.
Conceived to put a luxurious spin on conventionally rustic fishing excursions, ‘Catch & Cook’ experiences start at AED8,000 (US$2,133) for a two-to-three person trip that includes breakfast and lunch or lunch and dinner on board a guest’s selected vessel, all-day refreshments and fishing equipment hire. Amazing views of the majestic Arabian Gulf and Abu Dhabi city’s glittering skyline are free.
Gourmet Abu Dhabi continues across 20 of the UAE capital’s finest restaurants until February 20th. For more details, log on towww.gourmetabudhabi.ae.