Boasting a vibrant menu bursting with tropical flavours, served overlooking a gorgeous palm-fringed beach, Key West feels like a slice of the Caribbean right here in Dubai. Located at Nikki Beach Resort & Spa, it’s a beautiful restaurant and the only place in the UAE where you can enjoy authentic Floridian cuisine. Heading up the kitchen is chef de cuisine Olivier Hilton, who hails from Saint Lucia, and brings a fearlessly creative approach to the resort.
Olivier Hilton, chef de cuisine at Key West, chats to Concierge about his food philosophy, authentic flavours and Dubai’s dining scene.
How would you describe the cuisine at Key West to someone who has never experienced it before?
“Our mantra at Nikki Beach is celebrating life and Key West is the perfect place to do so. We embrace culinary and cultural traditions from around the world in our blend of Floridian and Caribbean cuisine, complemented by Latin flavours.”
What makes Key West special?
“The laid-back beach setting is amazing. It’s the perfect place to relax with family and friends. And of course, our Caribbean chefs prepare the best Caribbean food in town, because they really understand the authentic flavours.”
Key West opened a year ago. Has your food philosophy changed at all since then?
“No, our philosophy hasn’t changed since we opened the venue. We believe in being as authentic as possible and staying true to our roots. We have a genuinely fresh approach, which I think is what attracts people to the venue. It was, and still is, important to us to incorporate the genuine produce and techniques that we would use if we were serving food in the Caribbean. However, no matter how fantastic the product is, our number one priority is always providing our guests with a memorable culinary experience.”
You have some impressive luxury destinations on your résumé, such as Saint Lucia and Turks and Caicos Islands. How does Dubai, and Nikki Beach, in particular, compare?
“You know, celebrating and enjoying yourself by eating, dancing and spending time with friends – these are things that are universal. We embraced it in my previous roles and it’s an important part of Nikki Beach as well. There’s no doubt that Dubai is really leading the world when it comes
to its developing culinary scene. It has the potential to do even more, with its great locations and creative spirit, by focusing more strongly on authenticity.”
You started working as a chef at the age of 17 – when did you realise this was your calling?
“I’ve been spending time in the kitchen for as long as I can remember, cooking with and for my family. In the Caribbean, Sunday is the biggest day for a family meal. Cooking is my passion and I feel like the kitchen is my home, and where I belong.”
Tell us about a dish on the Key West menu that we won’t find anywhere else in Dubai.
“Fish in foil is a hero dish. It’s a classic combination of smoked spices and peppers with a coconut turmeric broth that’s rich, smooth and full of flavour. It’s an authentically Saint Lucian cooking technique, commonly used in open fire cooking. It’s casual and simple, yet elegant.”
What’s the one ingredient you can’t live without?
“Salt – I think it’s the secret to reaching the perfect balance in executing a recipe.”
Describe the perfect meal at Key West.
“Take yourself on a flavour journey. Start with something fresh, like our Caribbean ceviche. Then move on to something meatier, like the Latin beef ribs. Finish with something sweet – our Key West key lime pie is a Floridian classic.”
04 3766162 to make a reservation