Colin Clague – Executive chef of Ruya Dubai
Colin Clague, Executive chef of Ruya Dubai, a modern interpretation of an Turkish restaurant. Read here more.
Why did you decided to become a executive chef?
My mother is a qualified executive chef although she didn’t go into the trade, we always ate very well at home, and I just caught the bug from her, even as young as 12 I knew I wanted to be a executive chef.
Where did you learn the job?
I studied at the Isle college before heading to London, where over the next several years I worked under some of the best Chefs and restauranteurs in London at the time, including Peter Langan, Sir Terrance Conran, Gary Hollihead etc
What have been your stations so far?
Have worked all the sections in my career, even dis 14 months in a pastry kitchen, not my forte!
You are from Isle of Man: can you tell us some culinary specialties from this Island/ what are the difference / specialities in the kitchen compared to Ireland and England?
Obviously there are a lot of similarities between the IOM and the mainlands, especially Scotland and Ireland, the traditional foods are mainly built around, lamb, fish, potato’s and barley, we have some of the best ingredients around for such a small country, our Kippers, Queenie scallops and Loaghtan sheep are second to none
What drove you to move to Dubai?
Was offered the chance to open one of the restaurants in the seven star Burj al Arab, which obviously you couldn’t say no to
What was your first impression?
My first time in Dubai as a young man wasn’t to inspiring, the food scene was a long way behind London and the ingredients were poor, seemed to me that Europe was dumping what they couldn’t sell, in the middle east, when I came back in 2007 its has changes considerably, and it continues to do so, ingredients are first class now, and the restaurant scene is booming
What is the latest trend in the Dubai restaurant scene?
Most restaurants used to be in hotels, but there has been a surge in standalone premises over the last few years, free zones allow stand alone restaurants to have alcohol licences, which obviously helps, also there has been an influx of legendary `Chefs from around the world and many chefs that have been in the area for many years have attracted for want of a better word a celebrity status, but none of us would go along with that
What is the typical kitchen in Dubai, compared to any other of the Emirates?
All the emirate kitchens are basically the same, the food is mainly Bedouin in style with heavy influences from India and Oman, mainly due to the pearl diving history
Are there any good English restaurant in Dubai; and if not; why not?
There are many good British restaurants in Dubai, and some great restaurants led by the likes of Gary Rhodes, Gordon Ramsey and Jason Atherton etc, sadly the Rivington grill is no longer in Dubai, which is a real shame as its was a superb example of how good British food can be
Assuming that you are working with an international team at the Ruya restaurant, what is your experience of team work in Dubai?
In the restaurant as a whole there are 25 different nationalities, the kitchen alone has twelve, we have a high number of Turks (obviously) Indians, Filipino’s and Africans, and they all blend seamlessly, very proud of how hard working, dedicated and loyal my brigade is, in the 16 months Ruya has been open I have a 95% retention rate, and with the upcoming global expansion, there a quite a few that will be promoted and sent abroad
Ruya: Can you please introduce the special proposition of this modern Turkish restaurant in Dubai?
Ruya Dubai is a modern interpretation of an Anatolian / Turkish restaurant, with my partners who have over 50 years of experience in Turkish restaurants, what we want to achieve is to put Anatolian food up there with the other great cuisine’s of the world, and believe me it should be, its a million miles away from greasy kebabs etc
How did you get along as UK executive chef with the Turkish kitchen/ food?
I spent many months traveling and eating in Turkey, and I continue to go back to check out different places every few months, what my role is to modernise and if possible elevate the unique dishes of the area for a more high end restaurant, without loosing the tradition, flavours and integrity of the original dish, we do not do Fusion!!!
As Ruya plans to open a restaurant in London will the food concept be different to the Dubai restaurant?
Obviously London is a different market but as Ruya has been hugely successful with both the international community, locals and Turks here we will maintain the concept as it is, however as it will be far easier to get better quality ingredients I expect to raise the bar another 10%, we will be putting on more fish dishes and more lighter dishes for the ladies and the health conscious also
Lots of young European chefs would like to work in Dubai: what is your advice?
Dubai is a great market to get into, its a wonderful mix of what is happening in the global market, all the best Chefs have restaurants here, from Morimoto, zuma, JG, Jason Atherton, Thomas keller etc with many more to come, I always say if you can last the first year, you will stay for a good while as its a great country, its takes time getting used too and you have to respect where you are, but if you can get a good job with a respectable company then the world is your oyster