Batuhan Piatti talks to FACT about his culinary ethos, where he likes to eat in Dubai and what diners can expect from a visit to Raffles The Palm Dubai.
Tell us about your role as Director of Culinary at Raffles The Palm Dubai and how it came to be?
The management contacted me as a candidate for this prestigious role. At the time, we were supposed to open Accor groups flagship property in the Middle East during a four-month period. However, it was such a challenging situation with many responsibilities that I couldn’t hold back, so I accepted without any hesitation and returned to the hotel industry after being a restaurateur for many years.
What can diners expect when dining at Raffles The Palm Dubai?
As we have clientele from all around the world, we aim to satisfy all palates with the international cuisine in our all-day dining restaurant, where we use ingredients from all around the world and thematic nights. In addition, we have two a la carte restaurants, Italian Amalfi coast inspired “Piatti by the Beach” and Japanese fusion “Matagi“, where our guests will surely be delighted by the delicacies prepared by our talented team of chefs.
The hotel boasts several exciting concepts, including Matagi, SOLA Jazz Lounge and Piatti by the Beach. Which is your favourite and why?
I wouldn’t be able to pick one, as I designed and created all of the menus myself. Matagi is a cosy and warm Japanese fusion restaurant where we use the freshest ingredients like Japanese Kobe, Wagyu, fresh wasabi, Carabineros prawns and a vast selection of sushi and sashimi.
Sola Jazz Lounge is where our guests can indulge in tailor-made finger food while enjoying live jazz performances and sipping carefully crafted cocktails.
Piatti by the Beach is a perfect escape from city life, where you can find the finest ingredients from south of Italy, prepared traditionally and served family-style as a sharing concept. Thin homemade pizzas, fresh pasta, a raw bar, succulent meat and fish. The experience culminates with traditional cakes, desserts, homemade ice creams and sorbets offered in the Temptation room.
Let’s talk a little more about Piatti by the Beach. What are the restaurants signature dishes and which is your favourite to prepare for guests?
The fresh fish available upon our fish display can be prepared to the guests preference accompanied by homemade pasta, like tagliolini, maltagliati and strozzapreti – these are our signature dishes. Last but not least, our traditional cakes like La torta della nonna, vanilla merengue cake, berries tart and baba rhum with vanilla and pistachio ice cream are some of our best sellers.
We have also recently opened the Piatti Lounge Terrace above the restaurant with beautiful Palm Jumeirah views. Piatti lounge offers the finest Levantine cuisine (mezzes, pide, lahmachun) and a shisha selection.
Can you please describe your creative process for creating new dishes? Where do you draw your inspiration from?
As a chef, I do not have regular meals. My first meal for the day might happen around 6pm before the dinner service. Being starved all day, I come up with creative and tasty combinations that I propose to my guests the following day as a signature dish.
Is it difficult to source all of the required ingredients here in Dubai and how much do you rely on locally sourced produce?
Not at all if you are working for an international brand like Raffles. We are lucky to have a chance to source the best quality ingredients from all around the world.
I am always curious to use regional produce and there are quite a few suppliers we source from for Raffles The Palm Dubai.
What can we expect from Raffles The Palm Dubai in the coming months?
As we just opened a few months ago, we have a lot of upcoming projects, including a shisha lounge in Piatti serving Levantine cuisine and a new “Steak and Caviar” concept restaurant, which I can’t share the details of yet!
Are there any emerging cuisine trends coming into Dubai this year? If so, which ones?
Dubai is a very energetic and dynamic city in terms of food offers. The protagonist will be meat-driven restaurant concepts as per the high demand. With the Expo 2020 Dubai, I have noticed that African cuisine is a new emerging trend as well.
When eating out in Dubai, which restaurants are your favourites and why?
Colleagues and friends often invite me to try new openings in the city. I would highlight Carna, a steakhouse by Dario Cecchini, located in SLS Dubai Hotel and Residences from my recent visits. Gaia in DIFC is also one of my favourites.
Do you have a favourite cuisine you like to cook at home?
I am very traditional and simple at home. I try to cook traditional Italian and Turkish dishes as per my heritage.
Was there one person who impacted your decision to become a chef?
Since a young age, I have always shown interest in cooking. During my career, one of my chefs and mentors, Sergio Mei, the Culinary Director of Four Seasons Milano, filled me with his passion, creativity, and dedication to being a chef.
You are also leading the food and beverage at the newly opened Hyde Hotel Dubai. What can we expect over there?
At Hyde, we have a great variety of offers in terms of food, like Cleo with a large open kitchen and exotic flavours from the Middles East. Katsuya is truly a feast for the senses with spectacular sushi and sashimi platters.