From Michelin-starred names and famous chefs to experienced cooks and local restaurateurs, Expo 2020 Dubai is a culinary hub like no other. In this series, we present the chefs invited to be part of the World’s Fair and get an overview of the menu they have put together for the most discerning diners.
LIVE BLOG: Expo 2020 Dubai updates and live coverage
Tucked away in the Portuguese pavilion and directly overlooking the main stage is Al Lusitano, a 126-seat restaurant presented at Expo 2020 Dubai by Chef Chakall.
Al Lusitano offers a set menu for lunch and dinner at â¬ 40 ($ 46).
The team also steals its own products, including bread, coffee and spices; and will host olive oil tastings from different regions of Portugal once a week. âIt’s a small country, but the weather is very different from south to north,â says Chakall.
A hallmark of the globetrotting chef – who can speak seven languages, including Arabic – is his replacement of the white hat with brightly colored turbans (a tribute to the time he spent crossing Africa).
The chef has concocted a simple but authentic menu, well presented but not too fancy. âMy goal is to bring to Expo 2020 Dubai a true experience of the food served in Portugal. And I expect people coming from Portugal to say they get a taste of home, âhe said. The National.
Al Lusitano will serve dishes such as cod dumplings, piri piri chicken, mashed chickpeas, roast lamb, beef and tempura (“tempura, which comes from the word tempora, originated in Portugal , not from Japan “, says Chakall), as well as pasteis de nata (pastries with egg cream), leite de creme (a kind of creme brulee with sweet rice), chestnut pudding and dona amelia (a pudding from the islands of the Azores, composed of spices such as nutmeg and cinnamon).
âFlavor is the end of the game. I grew up on real food and I love to eat – and serve – real food; he has more heart. I always eat at home what I prepare in my restaurants and concentrate on cooking with products, âexplains Chakall.
The fifth of six siblings, Chakall was born in Argentina, but is a Portuguese citizen by choice. His parents are of Galician, Swiss-German, Basque-French, Italian and native origin from northern Argentina; three of his four grandparents worked in the food business, and Chakall says he grew up working in his mother’s restaurant.
âI grew up in a restaurant, which is the best education you can have. We served 400 meals in a factory, and only 100 on weekends, so for me now, cooking for 10 or 20 people isn’t scary at all.
A degree and a career in journalism couldn’t delay what âwas in me,â the chief says. “I was fighting the feeling, I didn’t want to be a chef, but fate was stronger than me.”
Chakall runs the Cozinha Divina restaurant company in Portugal, as well as several restaurant concepts, such as El Bulo Social Club, Refeitorio Senhor Abel, L’Origine, Areal Beach Bar and Luz by Chakall in Lisbon, and the Chakburger franchise.
He is also the executive chef of three restaurants at The Prime Energize Monte Gordo in Portugal, Super Bock in China and Roca Sundy in Sao Tome and Principe, and is the author of several cookbooks, including Portugal revisited, and appeared in television shows such as Chakall & Pulga.
The chef describes his cooking style as simple, unpretentious and stress free. âI always cook in contrast,â he says, âbecause when I eat a dish, I’m happier when it surprises my palate. Of all the restaurants I have eaten at in Dubai so far, a simple leek soup at Mythos in JLT stands out for its difference in its smoky flavor. I will remember it all my life. “
Update: October 4, 2021 9:52 a.m.