Jason Atherton on….
Famed chef, and serial Michelin-star collector, Jason Atherton made a welcome return to the Gulf this month with the opening of his first restaurant Marina Social at the Intercontinental Dubai Marina.
Eleven years on from heading up the kitchen at Gordon Ramsay’s Creek-side restaurant Verre, the British chef is back in Dubai with the latest adaptation of his award-winning ‘Social’ chain of restaurants. Serving shareable, British-Mediterranean style dishes, Marina Social does ’deformalised’ fine-dining at its very best.
During Esquire‘s sneak peek of the restaurant, we took a few minutes to get the Jason Atherton’s perspective on a few things:
The ‘Social’ concept… ’Social’ is an overused word in hospitality, but we are the first hospitality group to bring it into the ‘Michelin arena.’ The idea is that you can just come in for a dessert if you like, or a cocktail or a cup of coffee, and we will treat you as if you were having the full blown menu. That, to me, is important.
Dubai… I love Dubai, it is such a beautiful city. It has a special place in heart because I met my wife here. We got married in Jebel Ali. I still have a lot friends from when I was working here previously. It was the first time in my life I felt I had a social life away from cooking!
Big name chefs… I hate the term ‘celebrity chef’, all it means is that you are a chef that is in the media. When I was last working in Dubai the industry was just getting to grips with the whole celebrity chef thing and now, 15 years on, people are crazy about chefs and everyone wants to know who the best is. That means that we cannot allow Marina Social to be just another restaurant, we are here to work as hard as hell to make us one of the best restaurants in Dubai.
Fashion… Fashion is something I do treat myself to. I don’t have super flash cars, I don’t live an extravagant lifestyle, but one thing I do like is watches and clothes. I am a big supporter of British brands, and, honestly, I just love nice clothes. Considering the amount of hours that I work, I deserve nice stuff!
Home cooking… I normally end up cooking for the family. Our favourite is a Sunday Roast. I have converted my wife, who is Filipino, to eat Sunday Roasts on the weekend. No one can resist it, it’s one of those things that when done correctly it can be a wonderful thing.
Gordon Ramsay… learned how to be a great chef from Gordon, I was with him for a decade and my drive and my ambition comes from watching him. He is a power house. His dedication and drive is so contagious you just soak it up.
Marco Pierre White… Marco teaches you to strive for perfection. He never really changed much of his menu, he just wanted it perfect at all cost – even if you have to pull your arms and legs off to achieve it. Watching him work in the kitchen was incredible, he was so fast. He could prep fish faster than anyone else; he was like a machine.
His last meal… It would be with my wife. We would go to 11 Madison Park on Madison Avenue, open up some serious bottles of wine and spend all the company’s money on the 24-course taster menu – it’s calorific, but who cares, it’ll be my last meal.
Details: Marina Social, Intercontinental Dubai Marina, Dubai. marinasocialdubai.com