Chef Talk Dubai: Jamie Roberton, Executive Chef at Guacho

Blossoming from working part-time in the food and beverage industry, Executive Chef Jamie Robertson now reigns as culinary royalty in his role at Gaucho in Dubai.

Jamie began his career in 2003 working part-time at The Living Room restaurant and bar in Edinburgh, Scotland where he found his vocational calling. It was there that Jamie fell in love with the art of creating food. After finishing his studies, he began his professional journey that led to Dubai.

Seared scallops are one of Jamie Roberton's delicious dishes that you'll find on the menu at Gaucho in Dubai.
Seared scallops are one of Jamie Roberton’s delicious dishes that you’ll find on the menu at Gaucho in Dubai.

Working his way through the kitchen ranks, Jamie was promoted to Sous Chef at the age of twenty and quickly learnt how to manage a kitchen. In 2007, Jamie assumed the role of Head Chef at Alma De Cuba, an independent restaurant in Liverpool. He took on the challenge of re-building this dwindling business and secured the Liverpool Best Restaurant Award consecutively for the three years he was there.

The recognition Jamie attracted from successfully transforming Alma De Cuba caught the attention of Jamie Oliver. Working alongside Oliver and Jamie’s mentor Genarro Contaldo, he helped develop the menu for their Dubai restaurant, where he was later employed as Head Chef.

Bringing his wealth of experience, talent and drive to the Gaucho team in 2012, Jamie has worked to create and define Gaucho Dubai’s A la Carte and Business menu which won best Business lunch at the 2014 TimeOut Dubai awards.

Jamie has represented Gaucho at several external events including Taste of Dubai, where he was invited to conduct public masterclasses and exhibitions. Jamie has also appeared on Dubai One’s TV show Studio One preparing Gaucho signature dishes.

In house, Jamie oversees all of the training and development of Gaucho’s kitchen teams worldwide as, well as dealing with supply chain & chain demands, health & safety guidelines and full menu development.

Jamie sat down with our Dr. Nasrine Abushakra to dish on all that he loves about Dubai and the culinary arts.

Jamie Roberton
Jamie Roberton, Executive Chef at Guacho in Dubai.

Tell me about your personal experience of being an Executive Chef here in the Middle East and the United Arab Emirates.

Very enjoyable, it opens your eye to a whole new way of working, with most of the products being imported it takes a lot of careful planning and foresight. Staff recruitment is also a big challenge, the right people often come to you on paper and you have to make decisions without actually physically meeting the candidates.

Why did you decide to work here in the Middle East?
A new challenge, I had many offers on the table at the time both in UK and abroad, but the project at Jamie’s excited me, the first restaurant outside of the UK under the Jamie’s Italian brand name. I saw it was the chance to really gain some international experience.

For those not familiar with Gaucho what region is your culinary style modeled after?
It’s moulded around the Argentine culture of the asado, which is a big family style barbeque, we want people to feel like they are part of our family. Carefully sourced Black Aberdeen beef is the focal point of our offering along with other traditional argentine and Latin fair.

What has been your impression of the local food scene over the years here in the Middle East?
The culinary scene in Dubai has changed massively since I have been in the region, it’s grown so much and the quality has increased to a really high level, I really believe its becoming a culinary destination.

When you manage to find a little time to step away from Gaucho what are some of your favorite spots to dine or socialize?
To be honest I don’t have any favorites, with what’s on offer in Dubai I always like to try something new and different.

What is your favorite restaurant, besides the one you work?
I would Say Alma De Cuba in Liverpool, I actually worked there for some time but the restaurant itself is beautiful, utterly unique in every way being a 300 year old converted church. It will always have a special place with me.

If you had not pursued a Chef career or the life of a rogue restaurateur, what do you think you would have been?
Before I got the calling to the kitchen, I studied sports sciences for two years with a view to becoming a physiotherapist, had I not had a change of heart this is definitely the road I would have travelled.

What three ingredients you MUST have in your kitchen?
Good quality olive oil, chili and a good quality stock, probably chicken stock as it has the most applications.

Are you launching any new projects in the near future that you’d like to share with Haute Living readers?
This year I will be opening two new restaurants. We will bring Gaucho to Birmingham in the UK and bring our sister Concept CAU which is a very family friendly casual dining concept to Dubai at the end of the year.