Five dishes that changed Chef Sean Connolly's life
Chef Sean Connolly knows a thing or two about food.
The English-born Australian chef has six restaurants around the world; New Zealand, Australia and here in the UAE at the Dubai Opera house.
He was in town last week to help Esquire Middle East celebrate its 100th issue anniversary, and we caught up with him ahead of the party to ask which dishes throughout his life most shaped his career:
I used to cook to with my grandma Esther when I got home from school. She would tell me about what she used to cook through the war time in England. This dish is on all my menus, and is a tribute to her. Basically, the carrots are cooked within an inch of their life. They are soggy, sweet, soft, if they were cooked for five seconds more they would turn into soup – but that’s how my grandma used to cook them.
I’m very proud of my English heritage, and this is my go-to dish. Yorkshire was very working class part of the UK, and instead of buying expensive food people used to eat these as a way to fill themselves up. My grandma used to fill them with both meat and gravy, and then with custard and jam for dessert! I see it as an extension of my culture.
When was 13 I was watching a TV show with my grandad. It was a documentary about the QE2 cruise ship, saying that at the time it had the biggest caviar fridge in the world with more than a third of the world’s caviar being served on it. I told my grandad that one day I was going to work on a big ship. Later, in the ’80s when I was 19, I got a job working on the QE2, and after a few months was put in-charge of that very caviar fridge. It was the hardest time in my life, but also one of the most important.
Duck fat chips
Over the past 15 years this has become a signature of my menus. When I opened my restaurant Sean’s Kitchen in Sydney, I truly discovered the wonders of using duck fat. It’s a traditional way of French cooking but up to that point, I’d never explored fully it. I love cooking with it. It’s sweet, it’s meaty, it’s delicate – it costs an absolute fortune! But it’s worth it because it really elevates the chip and people appreciate that.
Chicken and Egg
This is a glimpse into the future of what I want to do. I am currently working on a concept with those two ingredients at the centre of it… but I’ve already said too much!
Sean Connolly at Dubai Opera, Dubai. 5pm to 2am. Tel: +971 4 3627312. seanconnollydubai.com