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Interview: Grant Marais on joining the Gates Hospitality team

Publique’s new head chef is focused on bringing people together through food

Growing up in Pretoria, South Africa, Grant Marais didn’t plan on becoming a chef, he just happened to be in the right place at the right time. In fact, the ‘accidental chef’ hails from a family of master bakers and has fond early memories of cooking with his father on Sunday mornings. Now at the helm of Publique in Dubai’s Madinat Jumeirah, Marais is keen to recreate this notion of connection through food. We catch up with him to find out how.

Connecting Travel: What attracted you to your new role at Publique?
Grant Marais: Following the success of my tenure at Adrift burger bar at Expo 2020, Gates Hospitality expressed their interest in having me consult for one of their brands. Having already formed strong professional relationships with the Gates team and seeing how successful our partnership could be, I jumped at the opportunity.

When we sat down to discuss the logistics, Gate’s explained their vision of Publique and the exciting plans they had for the future. It was immediately clear we were both aligned on the direction moving forward. Throughout our discussions, I was impressed with their transparency and never felt like there were any hidden agendas, which is important to me.

Gates has given me the freedom to implement my own ideas and work independently so long as I am ethical and uphold their policies and standards. 

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CT: How would you describe Dubai’s culinary destination?
GM: Dubai is a massive food hub – there is so much to take in. It’s super competitive. Food is trendy but only if it is Instagramable, and Dubai has made sure of that.

CT: What food trends would you like to grow here?
GM: I would like to see more sustainable seafood; hormone-free, organic meats; Keto options and plant-based food.

Publique interiorsPublique

CT: How do your dishes stand out from the rest in Dubai?
GM: I was initially attracted to the role at Publique as it allows me to offer a unique alpine dining experience that customers have not yet seen. Finding a clear point of difference to connect with customers has always been important to me.

I enjoy being versatile with all types of cuisines and I spend time doing research and studying various concepts to ensure we meet the expectations of our guests.

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CT: Finally, do you have any developments in the pipeline for Publique?
GM: We have just launched a new menu filled with vibrant flavours and exciting combinations, alongisde the classics our regular customers have come to love. I am a strong believer that food brings people together and I wanted to create a menu that emphasised this.  The new menu is part of many upcoming changes at Publique, which I am excited for! You’ll have to watch this space. 

For more information, visit www.publique.ae

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