One of the recent additions to Dubai’s first-of-its-kind list is the MasterChef Restaurant. As the name suggests, the popular television show on cooking MasterChef that boasts a 300-million viewership globally inspired the restaurant.
The MasterChef Restaurant was officially opened towards end of April this year in the presence of MasterChef champions, including Shaun O’Neale from the US, Simon Wood from the UK and Nikita Gandhi from India. “Continuing with the trend, almost every two-three months, we bring in one of the MasterChef champions to visit our restaurant and interact with the guests. Towards the beginning of July, Diana Chan – winner of MasterChef Australia for 2017 – will be here at MasterChef Restaurant,” shares Duncan Fraser-Smith, vice president of F&B, The First Group.
Situated in Dubai Marina inside the Millennium Place Marina hotel, the restaurant spans 5,853 sqft and can seat 80 people indoors and in the cooler months 60 people outdoors. “Overall, we can accommodate around 150 people. Along with indoor and outdoor seating, our guests can also reserve seats overlooking the kitchen to engage with our chefs as they prepare the food. Our guests love the interactions,” he adds.
“We offer our guests an emotional connection with the food we serve. As part of road shows in the UK, the US and Australia, we interacted with different MasterChef contestants and got them to write down their recipes. We ended up with 130 recipes; and more importantly, an alumni of MasterChef champions from around the world,” Fraser-Smith explains. “Now we can offer unrivalled experiences to our guests for them to feel and understand why these champions won the MasterChef competitions.”
The menu at the restaurant is rotated around three-four times a year based on seasonality. With a new set of contestants emerging from every season of the TV show, there is no shortage of recipes. Moreover, having started with 130 recipes, MasterChef Restaurant has only been able to use 25 so far.
One of the signature experiences at the MasterChef Restaurant is the Mystery Box. Chefs bring a box full of 10 ingredients, rotated weekly and diners can choose up to five, followed by which the chef prepares a dish in 35 minutes. “The pre-order based, Mystery Box experience is good for up to four people, and we can accommodate four such experiences every evening,” Fraser-Smith elaborates. In addition, there is an a la carte menu, divided into hot, cold and shared starters; the main course of meat, seafood and vegetables; sides; and desserts.
The restaurant doesn’t have sweeping views of the water or lush greenery. But what it has ensured is a MasterChef studio-like set-up. “Like MasterChef, we host diners in a warehouse set-up, as the MasterChef Restaurant sports an industrial yet warm ambience. What we have tried to do is infuse the essence of the show in our restaurant. We had to find a location with natural daylight that also sported an industrial look and feel,” Fraser-Smith points out. “What’s more, we have the MasterChef clock – done by the Sydney-based company that produces the clocks for MasterChef TV shows – hanging from the ceiling. The bronze MasterChef logo is yet another highlight. One of the biggest architectural highlights of the restaurant is the show kitchen. At the core, we have retained intimacy in a cavernous space through the use of warm lighting, seating and the level of engagement.”
“What we pride on is creating memories worth remembering. Our diners relate to every story behind the dishes. The MasterChef Restaurant has resonated very well with residents and tourists across nationalities. The average dwell time at the restaurant tends to be one and a half to two hours. And the average spend hovers around AED350-400 for two people, which also depends on the beverages since it is a licensed venue. And ever since we opened our doors, we have been receiving franchise enquiries from all over the world,” Fraser-Smith concludes.