Daniel Ferreira joined The St. Regis Dubai as Chef de Cuisine at J&G Steakhouse. He brings to the role a wealth of experience having worked in some of the world’s finest restaurants, as well as a desire to push the boundaries of traditional cuisine.
Prior to his current position at J&G Steakhouse, Daniel worked as Chef de Cuisine at Turquoiz Restaurant at the St. Regis, Saadiyat Island in Abu Dhabi for two years. He grew up in Johannesburg and discovered his love for cooking at a young age. On vacation in Spain with his father when he was 17, Daniel was exposed to an explosion of flavours, techniques and approaches to food. It was this experience that sowed the seed for Daniel to take his culinary passion to new heights, and move abroad.
At the age of 18, Daniel began his first culinary appointment under the tutelage of esteemed restaurateur, Wolfgang Wollauz at The Courier Restaurant in Parkview, Johannesburg. Voted one of South Africa’s top restaurants, it was here that he learnt the foundations of the hospitality industry and found his passion for fine cuisine.
In 2005, Daniel moved to London where he immersed himself in the world of British fine dining. He began his culinary journey as Chef De Partie at Delfina Restaurant in London Bridge, before moving to the trendy Whitechapel Dining Room, where he was Sous Chef for two years. During his eight-year period in London, Daniel learned from world-renowned chefs, including Maria Elia, Claire Smith and Tom Aikens, and worked in some of London’s most prestigious restaurants including Tom Aiken’s flagship restaurant in Mayfair and the Chelsea Arts Club.
Tell us about your personal experience of being an Executive Chef here in the Middle East & the United Arab Emirates.
I can say with all honesty that it has been a very unique and colorful journey. Spending most of my career in Europe could have made me become a bit complacent and somewhat narrow minded. You have access to some of the greatest products, bespoke produces and are heavily influenced by seasonal change. Coming to the Middle East has completely turned my world upside down in terms of culinary. I see it has the other side of the coin. The UAE is a mixing pot of cultures, and with this you have an immense amount of diversity. I believe the culinary scene in the UAE is slowly coming into its own and with the right guidance from chefs and restaurant owners we will continue to excel and soon be able to complete with the major players like Paris, London and New York.
Why did you decide to work here in the Middle East?
I have been coming through the Middle East for the past 11 years and have had the pleasure to watch the culinary industry develop and grow within the region. I believe there is great potential here and the fact that you are able to receive such high quality products all year round really helps with the inspiration and innovation of the restaurants and chefs.
For those not familiar with [J&G Steakhouse Dubai], what region is your culinary style modeled after?
J&G Steakhouse offers a sophisticated collection of steakhouse classics. Set within an elegant space of natural dark wood, glamorous light fixtures and leather upholstered furniture; American steakhouse favorites are presented with a modern flair. With premium meats, a variety of seafood and a comprehensive beverage list of robust wines and handcrafted cocktails, J&G Steakhouse promises an uncompromising dining experience.
What has been your impression of the local food scene over the years here in the Middle East?
I am very much a fan of the local cuisine and am a firm believer that when visiting a country you should always explore and immerse yourself within the local cuisine and culture to get a true feel for the city and people. I often try taking ingredients and techniques and incorporating them into new menu items or dishes.
When you manage to find a little time to step away from [J&G Steakhouse Dubai], what are some of your favorite spots to dine or socialize?
I love dining out but this is easier said than done. I have an eight month baby boy at home and a wife so any spare time I get away from the restaurant I love to spend with them. I do try frequent new openings in search of inspirational dinners and menus, some days I’m happy with street food and other times I crave fine dinning. A chef will always dine on their mood, as we are constantly surrounded and thinking about food in some form of way.
What is your favorite restaurant, besides the one you work at?
I do enjoy Marina Social, Tom & Serge, Villa Toscana in Abu Dhabi, and Enigma just to name a few.
If you had not pursued a Chef career or the life of a rogue restaurateur, what do you think you would have been?
OK don’t laugh, but I would definitely like to have been a spy like James Bond or Jason Bourne. Alas this was not possible so a chose to follow my true passion and became a chef.
What three ingredients you MUST have in your kitchen?
Maldon Salt, peanut butter and Forum Cab Sav Vinegar.
Are you launching any new projects in the near future that you’d like to share with us?
We are launching our summer menu in June and are busy putting the final touches on a new and exciting culinary concept that we will be launching in September which, believe it or not, has yet to be done in the UAE. Watch this space for more information.