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In conversation with Chef Ezequiel Cardozo

Bringing the glamour of the west coast and Hollywood to the city, Paramount Hotel Dubai’s selection of dining venues is well placed to take the emirate’s culinary scene by storm

At Paramount Hotel Dubai, everything is inspired by the art and craft of cinema. From Hollywood-themed suites to luxurious experiences that draw from the glitz and glamour of the film industry, the property has brought a whole new experience in hospitality to the emirate. The hotel’s dining venues are no exception with tempting options sure to impress avid foodies. At the helm in the kitchens is Executive Chef Ezequiel Cardozo, who, in keeping with the cinematic theme, goes by the title Executive Producer – Culinary. We recently had the chance to catch up with the talented chef, who took us on a behind-the-scenes tour of the hotel’s dining outlets. Read on to discover what to expect when you dine at Paramount Hotel Dubai.

Tell us about your role at Paramount Hotel Dubai.  “When I joined the hotel over a year ago, we weren’t open yet. Back then, I was tasked with designing and curating menus for all our dining outlets. My role also involved keeping an eye on the market in Dubai, designing the kitchens for maximum efficiency and assisting with budgeting. Now that we’ve launched, my primary task is to continue refining the cuisine we serve and develop an incredibly diverse team. We consider ourselves producers, cooking for the stars who are our guests.”

How would you describe the overall dining experience? The hotel 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 glistening west coast, a mischievous chocolate lab, a hidden den serving up inventive drinks, poolside food trucks and an all-day international dining restaurant. Our shared philosophy is that although excellent food is a great start, a restaurant requires several other elements to fall into place in order to make it a meal to remember. Every detail – from the staff to the ambience – is taken into consideration to give our diners a memorable experience.”

Walk us through the process of curating menus. “It all begins 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, has been the guiding philosophy. Personally, I have always been a fan of all things Baja and Californian and I was able to use tried-and-tested techniques while creating our dishes, such as playing with raw ingredients and adding flavour without changing textures.”

What can diners expect at Pacific Groove Restaurant & Lounge, the hotel’s signature venue?  “Pacific Groove captures the essence of Californian cuisine. The menu is fresh, light and healthy, and it features Mexican, American and Asian signatures that make for a 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 flavour profiles 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 woodfired steaks and grill fresh seafood, all while they take in an incredible dining experience that is hard to come by elsewhere in the city.” 

Any must-try items on the menu at Pacific Grove? “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 grandmother 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 as 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 the multicultural audiences we host at the hotel.”

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