Committed to responsible dining, Le Gourmet shows that it is possible to be simultaneously stylish and authentic

The first thing that hits you when you arrive at either of the Le Gourmet Galeries Lafayette venues is that the brand is unexpectedly down-to-earth. While the store itself is known for its high glamour and glitziness, Le Gourmet is comfortable and welcoming – homely almost. Well, as homely as a large restaurant with ten international kitchens, in a department store, in a mall, can be. At their Dubai Mall venue, lots of wood, cherry red sofas and warm lighting lend a vibe of relaxed opulence. While at their City Walk venue, Galaries Lafayette Gourmet Le Grill, the interior is more contemporary and, dare we say it, cool. Even more wood, lots of indoor plants and greenery, big chalkboards with the menu written up, more cherry red sofas and hanging, industrial style lights… you get the idea.

Across both venues, however, there is a running theme of commitment to producing responsibly-sourced food. Under the guidance of British chef Russell Impiazzi, Le Gourmet has dedicated itself to offering guests honest, ethically produced food from around the world. Pizzas, pastas, salads, Asian food, Indian food, Tuscan rotisserie grill – whatever your taste preference, there  is something to cater, using ingredients that have been specially sourced for their quality.

This month, to celebrate Ramadan, they are running a new experience called ‘My Morocco At Your Table’, for which chef Russell has teamed up with Moroccan chef and TV presenter Hanane Ouaddahou, to offer people a chance to connect with traditional Moroccan cuisine using local and regional products. Chef Russell says: “We lead incredibly busy lives here in Dubai and we perhaps do not spend enough time together around a table with friends and family. We hope to bring a little bit of this back with Chef Hanane’s menu. Family-style traditional recipes that are personal to her, served in the middle of the table and sharing – not only sharing the incredible food, but also quality time together.”

He continues: “The whole family-style concept brings back great memories from my own childhood of the whole family sitting around the table. I have five brothers and sisters, so mealtimes were always a big deal for us. Usually on a Sunday we would be fighting for the last roast potato! Sitting together for a family meal is something that I personally enjoyed growing up and something I now try to do with my own family here in Dubai, time permitting…”

The concept is about more than just food and dining though – it’s a cultural experience. Chef Russell says: “As with everything we try and do here, the goal is to create an experience around the food. It’s not only about the menu, we will be sharing cooking secrets in the form of cooking classes featuring chef Hanane in our Tabletalk event space. We will also have a mini souk-inspired space where guests can buy all the spices and olives that we will be using in the recipes, so you can take a piece of the experience home with you.”

Le Gourmet Galeries Lafayette, Dubai Mall, Dubai, daily, 10am to 10pm. Tel: (04) 4033033. Taxi: Burj Khalifa/Dubai Mall. Also: City Walk.

Doing Some Good

Russell Impiazzi is culinary director at Le Gourmet Galeries Lafayette

What does honest, responsible, traceable food mean to you?

“It’s all about integrity. It’s something that I take personally, we have an incredible responsibility to ensure that we use the best possible product that we can find, from a supply chain that we trust. That takes time, but it’s important to do so.

“Mass food manufacturing has really had a detrimental effect… Livestock grown bigger, faster and cheaper is taking its toll in so many ways. What we do here with Le Gourmet is to look for the alternatives – real farming, animal welfare, hormone-free, antibiotic-free, sustainability, local items where possible – all so important to the final product. Nature should do the hard work, not the cooks!

“There are also some great things going on locally. Elena at Greenheart organic farm producing amazing organic vegetables, the honey we use from Balquees, the most intense flavoured herbs from the incredible Badia farm grown in Al Quoz, beautiful oysters from Dibba… all are unbelievably good.

“I never would I have thought ten years ago we would have such incredible locally available produce and it’s great to see and, more importantly, to taste! ”

How easy is it for people to eat responsibly in Dubai when eating at home and when eating out?

“It’s certainly far easier now both eating out and cooking at home. The amount of information that we have access to is changing the way chefs work and, to some extent, consumer behaviour. From talking to our guests, we see that is there is a more genuine interest in the providence of where our food comes from. It sparks conversation – and so it should. We should be and need to be asking questions where our food is coming from. There needs to be demand for greater transparency to put pressure on our supply chains for full integrity behind the produce.”