5 dishes that shaped my life... chef Francky Semblat
Chef Francky Semblat helms Al Muntaha at the Burj Al Arab. Here are the pivotal dishes that helped build his Michelin-approved career.
Scallop with ginger, fregola risotto and ink tuile
Asia is a very important place for me. I lived in Macau for almost half my life and my wife is also from Hong Kong, therefore I spent a lot of time learning about Cantonese food. In Asia they eat a lot of ginger with chicken, and so I try to use that flavour profile in my work. It was my mentor [the iconic chef] Joel Robuchon, who taught me how to respect flavour, respect cooking and the respect customer. So when I create dishes I still ask myself ‘Is this something Chef would like?’.
King crab, amaldi lemon, caviar and yuzu sour cream
This is a Joel Robuchon dish that taught me a lot about the importance of eating with your eyes, but also ensuring it is packed with flavour. My restaurant in Dubai is located in a seven star hotel, and therefore it is important to have a wow factor to it—something luxurious. Too many chefs these days care more about the look of a dish than the quality and the flavour of the dish. I always think back to this dish, because if it is the perfect example of both good looks and quality ingredients created using classic French training.
Burrata with tomato essence and basil
One of France’s most famous chefs is Joel Robuchon, who I worked with for 24 years, so a little of his inspiration is in almost all my dishes. Although, I learnt to create my own twist on things, and this burrata dish is an example of that. I actually ate burrata for the first time very recently in Dubai and fell in love with it so I thought it would be the perfect amuse bouche here.
Wagyu tenderloin, and crispy potatoes
I’d never lived abroad before so when I moved to Macau at the age of 24 it was a revelation— and stayed for the next 18 years! During my time there I worked for a big casino company and we became the first in Macau to import Kagoshima beef—one of the best quality Japanese meats in the world. Being able to cook with that quality of product helped us gain our first Michelin star, and taught me a lot. Today I do a version of the beef with a traditional French Béarnaise sauce, but plate the three main elements separately.
When I was 14 years old my mum sent me to a small village restaurant for a week and I was hooked. This is the dish they used to make there. It’s a typical French bakery dish using bread dough and you can store it in your cabinet for a week. I simply love this dessert but it takes a lot of preperation. There is a version with alcohol and one without, which has ginger syrup to give it that punchiness. Once it becomes dry you add the syrup and it just soaks it all up.