Our Deputy Editor, Debbie, got exclusive access to the Enigma team as they worked on Journey of A Nordic Chef. On preview night she had an ‘access all areas’ pass and was lucky enough to witness the teams at work as they prepared for service. Journey of a Nordic Chef brought together two very different teams, the team from Enigma Dubai and the team from Frantzen in Sweden. Chef Yunis and Restaurant Manager Jean Benoit spent a week in Sweden with the Frantzen team as part of the intricate planning process which saw a fully curated Nordic menu brought to Dubai for the first time under the helm of Bjorn Frantzen.
Whilst the final touches were being made to the dining room and outdoor terrace, the team in the kitchen were busy with final preparations too. Nordic mosses, ferns and artic flowers were arranged on the tables along with white candles and tree bark giving the tables a warm and inviting feel. The walls, which were stark white on our last visit, were now covered in panels depicting the Northern Lights whilst outside the DJ was playing a carefully curated play list with the Northern Lights being projected on the wall behind him. We were in no doubt, that a new concept was in town and that Enigma was turning the pages to the second Chapter in it’s ever changing story.
Inside the kitchen, it was calm and peaceful. Both teams were working together in harmony which was fantastic to see. The Frantzen team were patiently demonstrating new techniques to the Enigma team and the Enigma team were keen to learn new techniques and cook with new ingredients, There were a few laughs and jokes amongst the team, apparently team Enigma had to share their coveted macaron recipe with team Frantzen as the Frantzen recipe wasn’t working in Dubai maybe because of the different temperatures and humidity levels, maybe slightly different ingredients, in the end it didn’t matter as teamwork was a key element of the evening. There was an air of expectation and excitement as they prepared to deliver the new menu to an eager audience of critical diners. By 6pm preparations were virtually complete, and the front of house and kitchen team gathered in the dining room for a final briefing by Bjorn and Jim, Frantzen’s Executive Chef. The tone was serious and informative, there were lots of changes required to the standard menu to allow for allergies etc, and also there were a few final tweaks to the level of information the servers should give to the diners, the balance being, enough but not too much! The briefing ended on a high with the team ready to rock and roll their evening in the kitchen. I popped back into the kitchen mid service, expecting to see some drama, alas I was disappointed, there was no friction, no shouting, no disagreements, instead the team were focuss and concentrating and still maintaining a level of calm I’ve never seen in a live kitchen before, much less on opening night – fantastic team work indeed!
The dishes that came of out the kitchen later were gorgeous and really highlighted the amount of work that I know had gone on over many months of planning. The menu came in the form of a really informative booklet now only describing the dish, but also some of the key ingredient, I really wish more restaurants did something like this as for me reading the menu is almost as important as tasting the food. As diners we don’t often think about what happens behind the scenes, and maybe we don’t have to, but I do hope that you’ve found our Behind Closed Doors interesting and informative and perhaps it’s left you with a little ‘food for thought’ if so my work is done. Bon Appetite !
Moss and Bark on the Table gave a Nordic feel to our experience
Scallop served in its own shell with a liqueur, dried roe, fir tree, finger lime and “dashi“
White Moss “sushi” with deer, frozen bird’s liver, burnt hay and chantarelles.
Cloudberry and Thyme Macaron with wild berries
“Hot-pot” which consisted of lamb served with cabbage, roasted cauliflower bouillon and truffles.
Bjorn Frantzen & Yunis – Executive Chef at Enigma