• A Dubai chef has been ushered into an elite forum of experts who use beef on their menus. Oasis Living caught up with him to get to the meat of the matter

    Love beef? Well then it could be time to join the club. Specifcally, the Chefs' Irish Beef Club, an exclusive international forum which brings together some of Europe’s leading chefs who use Irish beef in their menus.

    Just recently, the forum inducted Executive Chef Christopher Graham of Dubai’s very own Atmosphere Restaurant at the Burj Khalifa into this prestigious clan at a VIP dinner organised by Bord Bia – the Irish Food Board.

    Chef Graham has over ffteen years of top level international culinary experience with multiple Michelin-starred chefs and has worked in some of the top hotels and restaurants around the world.

    His current domain Atmostphere, the world’s tallest restaurant, not only boasts an exquisite dining menu, but also an intimate private dining experience and magnifcent lounge with breathtaking views.

    “The growth of the Chefs’ Irish Beef Club in the Middle East has given us the opportunity to promote prime Irish beef to some of the most exclusive restaurants and chefs in Dubai,” explained Michael Hussey, Bord Bia's Middle East Regional Market Director.

    “The quality of Irish beef is world renowned; we have seen an increasing demand from executive chefs who want to serve only the highest quality beef in their establishments.”

    Eager to speak to the man of the hour, Oasis Living grabbed a few minutes from Chef Graham’s hectic schedule to answer some foodie questions…

    What does it mean to you to be included in the Chefs' Irish Beef Club?

    I feel privileged to have been invited by Bord Bia to join this group of world-class chefs, alongside the likes of Ashley Palmer-Watts of the Fat Duck in my home country of England, and the distinguished Paul Bocuse. I’m proud to use Irish beef and look forward to being an ambassador for it as a top-quality premium ingredient.

    What is special about Irish beef, as say compared to US or other countries?

    The story of Irish beef is unique – the cattle are raised on small family farms, kept out to pasture in the fresh air of Ireland for over 300 days of the year. They eat a grass-fed natural diet. The herds are raised without the use of growth hormones and the meat is fully traceable from farm to fork. With Irish beef, it’s amazing that I can trace each cut back to the farm it was produced on. I can fnd out who the individual farmer is who raised that animal. The production of Irish beef is uncomplicated, natural and taken from centuries of Irish farming tradition and the luscious green environment is a real point of difference and gives us such quality beef.

    What are your favourite ways to cook beef?

    The menu here at Atmosphere is completely seasonal and I love preparing the dry aged Irish beef tenderloin, cooked on a low heat in the oven and then pan-seared in lots of butter, garlic and rosemary. This is served with an onion puree, leek ash, potato with veal jus, braised savoy cabbage with diced beef tongue, red onion marmalade, oxtail and watercress and a Barolo drizzle. Rich, heart-warming and prepared with the utmost care.

    Why should people come to Atmosphere and try the Irish beef?

    If the description above hasn’t already tempted you, then let me explain that dryaged Irish grass-fed beef has a distinctively deeper level of flavour when compared with grain-fed beef. The process of dry-aging the beef, removes some of the moisture from the meat which allows for a more concentrated rich flavour and more tender meat. The unique and sumptuous flavour of Irish food is certainly a distinction on the menu here at Atmosphere and it’s a goal of mine to tell the story to our customers with a desire for the best produce, that they simply can’t get better than this.

    Why choose Irish beef?

    I really prefer the produce from Ireland because the producers work much closer with the animals and there’s genuine care put into each stage. I have a range of Irish product on the menu from John Stone Dry-Aged Beef to Kelly’s Oysters – hand-turned several times a day for up to fve years to produce the best oysters I’ve ever tasted. It’s that level of dedication and service from the producers that makes us even more proud to serve it to our diners to enjoy.

    RECIPE

    Has all this put you in the mood for beef? Why not try this flavour-packed recipe from Bord Bia…

    INGREDIENTS:

    • 1 kg well-trimmed shoulder/chuck beef or shoulder of lamb, cubed
    • 1 tbspn ground ginger
    • 1 tspn ground black pepper
    • 1 tspn ground cinnamon
    • 1 tbspn turmeric
    • 1½ tbspn paprika
    • ½ tspn chilli powder
    • 1-2 tbspn olive oil
    • 2 large onions, diced
    • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
    • 100g dried apricots, chopped
    • 50g sultanas or raisins
    • 250ml tomato juice
    • 125ml beef or lamb stock
    • 1 tbspn honey
    • Juice of half a lemon
    • Salt to taste

    Topping: (optional)
    Mix together:

    • 1-2 tbspn fresh coriander, chopped
    • Grated rind of 1 lemon
    • 50g almonds, chopped
    • Salt and black pepper

    METHOD:

    1. Set oven Gas Mark 4, 180ºC (350ºF).
    2. Place the meat in a large bowl.
    3. Mix the spices together and coat the meat with the spices.
    4. Heat half the oil in a large pan and brown the onions well and place in a flameproof casserole, then brown the meat in the remaining hot oil (do this in batches to get the meat a good colour).
    5. Transfer to the casserole with the onions.
    6. Add all remaining ingredients. Stir well, bring to the boil.
    7. Place in the oven for approx. 1½ hours or until the meat is very tender