HAUTE DUBAI Magazine / Dining /
Unravelling the first chapter of
Enigma with Chef Quique Dacosta
Enigma, the latest restaurant to descend in Dubai at the newly opened Palazzo Versace Dubai, is about to kick-start what could be a revolution in the fine dining scene. With a phenomenal concept, Enigma will be handed over from one renowned international chef to the next at the top of each season, bringing some of the world’s best chefs to Dubai for three months at a time.
The first chef scheduled to take over Engima’s kitchen is the avant-garde Quique Dacosta, whose eponymous restaurant in Spain has three Michelin stars and is currently listed at number 39 on the coveted World’s 50 Best Restaurants list. We caught up with chef Dacosta and Patrick Robineau, Hotel Manager at Palazzo Versace Dubai and the man behind Engima’s revolutionary concept to unravel the first chapter of this eccentric new restaurant…
Patrick Robineau, Hotel Manager at Palazzo Versace Dubai
Your vision for Enigma is to be a stage where renowned chefs from around the world guest and perform. Tell us more about this concept and how it came to be.
Patrick Robineau: Our brand is known to break the rules and to innovate. Enigma has modelled today’s highly desired commodities and was conceptualized to emulate the very nature of our current lifestyle; fast paced, versatile and dynamic. Always evolving and creating anticipation for the next new upcoming edition.
Luxury hotel guests are acute travellers and all have come across some great Chefs. All guests are individuals who appreciate distinction, character and originality.
At Palazzo Versace Dubai, whilst keeping our integrity to haute gastronomy, we had to feature a disruptive restaurant concept. The objective was for Enigma to be high-end and known at an international level, establishing trends and aligned with the philosophy of Dubai which leads the way with innovation. Enigma had to be a one of a kind.
Will the ambiance of the restaurant change with each new chef? How would you describe the general ambiance of Enigma?
PR: Yes, the ambiance, the cuisine, the tableware, the entire concept will change to match each new ‘Untold story’ chronicled by renowned and recognized Michelin-star chefs amongst the 50 best in the world.
Enigma goes beyond the traditional set menu. During this unique journey, all your senses come alive. It is a non-rational phenomenon. It is a stage for creativity and a blank canvas for artistry. The design by House of Versace was developed to accommodate this evolution.
The fine dining scene in Dubai has become very competitive over recent years with many world-famous chefs opening restaurants here, but with Engima, it seems that you are creating a phenomenon not just for Dubai but rather on a global scale. To what extent do you see Enigma impacting the fine dining atmosphere?
PR: Dubai has become very competitive and the fine dining scene has evolved from being stuffy to being cool and interactive. We have now gone beyond fine dining expectations. The consumer’s expectations have also greatly evolved. We appeal to the global community of today.
This iconic gastronomy is created by chefs who act as creative directors. The collective genius is the team which is fundamentally key to our success as we are always working on the next chapter. It requires considerable planning and logistics to always be the latest restaurant concept in town and in the world.
Enigma with its ‘Untold story’ is taking nothing less than the world itself as the field for its public activity. Idealistic fantasy or practical necessity, Enigma’s worldview and its legacy is evolution and innovation.
Your cuisine is known as ‘techno-emotional Spanish.’ How do you define that?
Quique Dacosta: Techno-emotional was a name created to christen the Spanish avant-garde cuisine movement ranging from 1990 until 2010. I was part of this, along with other chefs. At this time, we are somewhere else, but it is hard to self-define. Since I began my professional career, I have created two styles of cuisine, and since 2011, we have been working on this third one. It does not have a specific name, but it does have values. It flees from prejudice, the routine, the obvious and the established. It moves forward through study, innovation, creativity, engagement with the environment, sustainability and permanent dialogue with other disciplines. This is all expressed in a myriad of ways, always within a space called ‘Quique Dacosta Restaurante,’ in Dénia, Spain.
Walk us through your creative process. What inspires you as a chef?
QD: This 2015 season, which we have just ended, has travelled through my moods at an inspirational level. I have created a language that took shape in the dishes forming part of my most marked feelings. Magical, unrepeatable creations from flowed forth from there.
Life inspires me. The creative process is based on this inspiration, on ideas, on my inquisitiveness and my team’s. Juanfra Valiente is at the head of the Creativity Studio, a space whose exclusive purpose is this highly important aspect. We dedicate much time, work and resources to creativity and to developing and realizing our ideas.
Carbón de Pericana
Was there a point when you realized that just making good food is not enough for you or have you always been this progressive?
QD: I want to keep making good food. This is a maxim. The thing is, I work so that cuisine becomes a language for me to communicate with guests, springing from my identity and philosophy.
What is your most interesting experience from your time in restaurants?
QD: The evolution undergone by gastronomy, its inevitable progress. Seeing how we have gone beyond the action of giving one something to eat. I want to use this experience, this lesson, to benefit society. Cuisine can help so many people all over the world. I want to actively contribute to their well-being.
What do you think of the concept that Enigma is introducing?
QD: Enigma is a very ambitious, singular project. Palazzo Versace has created a unique space for chefs and diners to have unforgettable moments. They were very creative with the project.
What are some of the highlights on the menu you are bringing to Enigma, and is it the same menu you have at your restaurant in Spain?
QD: We are going to highlight the DNA of our methods and memories to build unique moments. We are bringing the three most innovative, dynamic stars to Enigma, along with the most advanced pathways, the sole purpose being to make those filling Enigma in the Palazzo Versace Dubai experience one-of-a-kind moments.
Let's talk about your restaurant in Spain. What culinary and non-culinary highlights do your guests enjoy there that you just couldn't bring with you to Enigma?
QD: Some quickly perishable products that are important at ‘Quique Dacosta Restaurante’, such as Red Shrimp, and a few other ingredients that are fragile for transport will not be present at Enigma. Excepting this, we will still have the soul of my cuisine and most of the biodiversity from my natural environment in Dubai.