I was thrilled when the Sheraton Grand Dubai contacted me to do a collaboration with Noni’s Place. As you all know I love the whole process behind table styling and entertaining so I was over the moon when I able to share that love with a wonderful group of guests. The Sheraton Grand is home to the restaurant Feast and its executive chef Malcolm Webster, who takes the typically boring hotel dining experience to a completely different level. It’s really refreshing to see a hotel dining restaurant trying to change things up and experiment in order to stay fresh and competitive. Feast recently launched their Simply Seafood Night and I was asked to come on board to create a special dinner in celebration of this.
From the get go I started brainstorming the feelings and emotions related to eating seafood. Since I grew up in Rhode Island (also known as the ocean state) I was on familiar and exciting territory and have many memories of seafood nights by the sea, eating crispy deep fried oysters and fresh Atlantic lobster. I themed the dinner “Salt & Water,” evoking the briny saltiness of the sea and wanted to bring this feeling into all elements of the evening from the food to the ambience.
Invite designed by Iskander Ahmed of Buzzy Bee Communications
I had a creative idea exchange session with Chef Malcolm where we discussed what dishes he could concoct up resulting in a 17-course menu! We honed in on the ideas of elevated New England comfort food and redefining the classics from the typical oyster po-boy sandwich reinterpreted on a steamed bao with miso mayonnaise to a classic Atlantic seafood pasta transformed into a fresh crab tagliolini with dehydrated caviar for that salty touch. We feasted on warm anchovy foccaccia with an array of different butters: bone marrow, anchovy, and lemon herb. Chef Malcolm further elevated the traditional “surf & turf” with a bone marrow, green olive, and pine nut crusted smoked sea trout served alongside 13 hour braised beef cheek with bone marrow (melt in your mouth). The table was adorned with empty oysters shells with four different types of sea salt to accent the dishes. We brought in more salt elements with a palette cleanster of salt baked beetroot puree & goat milk granita and an incredibly indulgent chocolate banana sphere with popcorn ice cream and salted caramel for dessert. It was truly a feast! (see below for the full menu).
For the ambience and styling I wanted to keep things rustic with a slight touch of formal elegance. Some dishes were served family style in beautiful copper pots and wooden slabs, while others were individual in Emile Henry casseroles or mini staub cast irons, just lovely. For the table styling I brought in the nautical theme using raw rope knotted into a runner with a complete mish mash of florals in different size vessels across the table. I wanted to keep the flowers simple and used white roses, baby’s breath and blue hydrangea in sand filled jars and plain vases, all short and minimal. I brought in my whimsical touch by placing empty oyster shells, sea themed books such as “The Old Man and the Sea” and “Moby Dick,” and different quotes such as “the world is your oyster” on brown craft paper. I also used the oyster shells for the place settings and hand wrote each guests name into a shell. I wanted the lighting to be dim and cozy, so I used fairy lights that were hung against the industrial wall creating a warm vibe. Lastly the music was a carefully curated playlist made by me playing the best of the best from Bobby Darin to Frank Sinatra to Billie Holiday.
The honored guests of the evening were a mix of press and bloggers with one thing in common, a love of good food. It was a wonderful evening of chatter, warm smiles and full bellies.
*Photos provided by Dev Shahani & The Sheraton Grand Hotel
Ceviche of Sea Scallop with Blood Orange, Smoked Salmon & Coriander
Tartare of Yellow Fin Tuna with Goats Cheese
Salmon Sashimi, Soy, Ruby Grapefruit, Peppers, Pink Peppercorns & Mache Salad
Lobster Bisque with Smoked Lobster Medallions, Brioche & Dill
Crisp Oyster Po Boy with Asian-slaw & Miso Mayonnaise
Oysters in a half shell with Pomegranate Mignonette
Salad of Watermelon, Feta Cheese & Toasted Pumpkin Seeds with a Mint Dressing
Lightly Smoked Sea Trout, Bone Marrow, Green Olive & Pine nut Crust with Duck Fat Potatoes
Tagliolini with Fresh White Crab Meat & Lingotto Dehydrated Caviar
Beef Cheek Slowly Braised for 13 Hours with a Bone Marrow, Cucumber, Shallot & Watercress Salsa
Confit Carrots & Fennel scented with Star Anise & Cardamom & topped with Garlic Crumbs
Steamed Seasonal Vegetables Dressed in Confit Lemon & Hazelnut Vinaigrette
Salt Baked Beetroot Puree, Goats Milk Granita, Honey & Lemon
Death by Chocolate Sphere, Banana, Popcorn Ice-cream, Manjari Cremeux, Chocolate Crunch, Warm Salted Caramel Sauce
Doughnuts Filled Vanilla Bean Custard Raspberry Dipping Sauce
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