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California cool

Bringing the glamour of the west coast to Dubai, Paramount Hotel Dubai’s dining venues are well placed to take Dubai’s culinary scene by storm

At the newly launched Paramount Hotel Dubai, everything is inspired by the art and craft of cinema. From Hollywood-themed suites to pampering leisure experiences that draw from the glitz and glamour of California. The food at the hotel’s dining venues is no exception. In fact, even the executive chef goes by the title Executive Producer – Culinary. And at Paramount Hotel Dubai, this title is heled by Ezequiel Cardozo, who we caught up with shortly after the hotel’s grand opening.

You joined Paramount Hotel Dubai in its pre-opening phase and were soon promoted to Executive Producer – Culinary. Tell us more about your role.

“When I joined Paramount Hotel Dubai over a year ago, I was tasked with designing and curating the menus for all the dining outlets in the hotel. My role then also involved keeping an eye on the market in Dubai, designing the kitchens to ensure maximum efficiency and assisting with budgeting. Now that we’ve opened up, my primary task is to continue refining the cuisine we serve and develop an incredibly diversified team that plays an important role in the entire system. We consider ourselves the producers cooking for the stars, who are our guests.”

How would you describe the overall dining experience at the hotel?

“Paramount Hotel Dubai was born to become an icon on Dubai’s hospitality scene. The concept is inspired by the rich history of Paramount Pictures with Hollywood-themed rooms and Californian cuisine presented with creative flair. We have everything to delight our guests, including a café inspired by the glistering west coast, a mischievous chocolate lab, a hidden den serving up inventive drinks, poolside food trucks and an all-day international dining restaurant. And although we believe that excellent food is a great start, a restaurant requires several other elements to be perfected to make it a meal to remember. Every detail – from the staff to the interiors, ambience and the hotel itself – is taken into consideration to give our diners a memorable experience.

Walk us through the process of curating menus for the hotel’s dining outlets?

“It began with fully understanding the idea behind each outlet and its location. Staying true to an authentic Californian experience, which encompasses influences from the Pacific Islands and Mexico, was the guiding philosophy. Personally, I have always been a fan of all things Baja/Californian and I was able to use tried-and-tested techniques while creating our dishes, such as playing with raw ingredients and adding to their flavour without changing their texture.”

What can diners expect at Pacific Groove, the hotel’s signature restaurant?

“Pacific Groove captures the essence of Californian cuisine. The menu is fresh, light and healthy, and features the best of Mexican, American and Asian flavours that make for a healthy, wholesome and inventive meal. The flavours are unlike anything our guests would have ever tried before. We serve a market-style selection of seafood, woodfired steaks, raw treats and salads. Each of the dishes highlights the simplicity of the ingredients, allowing their true flavours and textures to shine through.Diners at Pacific Groove are in for an aesthetically staged journey, an experience that they can ‘see, smell and savour’. They are invited to sit back and watch the chefs prepare sizzling wood-fired steaks and grill fresh seafood.”

Any must-try items on the menu?

“The array of ceviches, crudos and handcrafted Californian groovy rolls are among the most recommended items. Make sure to try the carabineros ceviche with dragon fruit, red chilli, cilantro and yuzu; wagyu tataki crudo and the king crab cakes.”

What inspired your passion for cooking?

“My grandma was a chef, she was always cooking up a feast. Even the bread was homemade. I started helping her when I was very young and since then, have always wanted to be a chef. I started working at a commis chef at a three-Michelin-starred restaurant in Spain. But I wanted to learn more and explore different culinary techniques. So I focused on travelling the world to learn more about food.”

How have your past experiences in the field prepared you for this role?

I have lived and worked in Spain, China, Seychelles, Antigua and Barbuda, Mexico and the USA. My experience in Mexico cultivated my passion for using raw ingredients and influenced a lot of my cooking, which I now use extensively at the hotel. Through my travels, I learnt a lot of different traditional techniques used in these countries and have cooked several recipes with their seasonal produce. This knowledge has proved extremely beneficial in catering to Dubai’s multicultural audience at the hotel.”

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