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Interview: Clap DXB chef Renald Epie on standing out in Dubai

As the brand expands overseas, Epie is helping to put Clap on the culinary map in Dubai

Clap DXB head chef Renald Epie wanted to be a chef for as long as he can remember. The son of a chef, he entered his father’s kitchen at the age of six and was in awe of the simultaneous chaos and coordination. Inspired by the passion that surrounded him, he followed his dreams and, after a 10-year stint working with Alain Ducasse, plus roles in several Dubai hotels, he ended up running the kitchen in one of Dubai’s trendiest restaurants in Dubai’s monied finance district, DIFC. 

With well-established neighbours including branches of Zuma and LPM, the team at Clap has to work hard to stand out, but it must be doing something right as impressive expansions plans and exciting projects are already on the horizon.

Connecting Travel: What attracted you to your role at Clap?
Renald Epie: I joined Clap a year ago in search of consistency and the chance to build a team that would put our name on the map as the place to be in DIFC. Before that, I came to Dubai in 2013 to work at Al Mahara restaurant in Burj al Arab. I then became the executive chef and moved to its sister property, Jumeirah Al Naseem, then on to Atlantis, The Palm and from there to The Fairmont Dubai. 

CT: How does Clap stand out from such a high concentration of competitors?
RE: At Clap, our menu concept is Japanese, which continues to grow in popularity in this region. Our competitors are multiplying, and our aim is to build our own identity and understand what we do differently. 

We are constantly working on improving our menus – our business lunch, dinner and ‘Red Sun’ after-work, happy hour menus

Clap restaurant interiorClap restaurant

CT: What’s next for the Clap brand?
RE: We have recently reopened Clap Beirut after closing for three years. It opened successfully as a pop-up last year, and since its official reopening this year has been very popular. We have Clap KSA in the pipeline for Q4 2022 and some very exciting projects coming next year in Europe and Dubai.

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CT: How does Dubai’s culinary scene compare to other popular destinations?
RE: Being in a desert region makes it difficult to have a full range of local products, therefore we import, which can make our prices higher compared to other markets such as European countries, but our hospitality is very strong. 

Wagyu beef tartareWagyu beef tartare 

CT: What are the current food trends in Dubai?
RE: There’s a huge appetite for vegetarian dishes. The demand has been increasing year by year and will definitely continue to do so.

We have expanded our a la carte menu to include more than 30 vegetarian dishes to give customers what they want

CT: Has being in the Middle East influenced your dishes?
RE:We try to incorporate ingredients from the region, and some dishes are inspired by our geographic location such as hummus, edamame beans or date ice-cream.

Oven roasted tamara king crabOven roasted tamara king crab

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CT: What professional achievements are you most proud of ?
RE: My time at Alain Ducasse’s Le Louis XV in Monte Carlo was a one-of-a-kind experience that gave me the tools to get where I am today. Working in a three Michelin-starred restaurant teaches you discipline and how to achieve perfection, from the amazing vegetables to the fresh fish caught just an hour ago, to the cooking techniques – it’s a Beethoven symphony for the belly every day.

For more information, visit www.claprestaurant.com 

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