This chef spills the beans on the growing street food concept

We’re all ready for some serious eats to come to the capital with the return of Abu Dhabi Food Festival. To whet your appetites, staff writer Camille Hogg talks to guest chef Miguel Vieira, taking part at Street Fest, to find out what he will be dishing up

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There’s no doubt that we love our food in Abu Dhabi – and with Abu Dhabi Food Festival set to return from 7th to 23rd December with a whole host of foodie events in tow, there’s never been a better reason to ditch the diet.

One of the events worth saving space for in your belly is Street Fest. Running over three weekends in Abu Dhabi and Al Ain, this family event will bring together food, music and art for a weekend of entertainment.

Cooking up a storm at Street Fest for the first time will be Michelin-starred chef Miguel Vieira, who will be visiting from his native Portugal to give us a taste of what the country has to offer.

We’re huge fans of food here, from gourmet experiences to food trucks. As a classically trained chef, how do you see dining evolving as a result of street food and how has it made food more accessible?

My feeling is that people nowadays tend to look out for fuss-free experiences. And street food gives you exactly that: easy and tasty food at more accessible prices and where you don’t need to worry with bookings, dress code or if you are holding a knife and fork in the correct way. It’s all about food, flavours and having a good time.

You’ll be giving live demonstrations at Street Fest. How has your own style changed as a result of participating in events like this?

To be very honest with you, this will the first time I will participate in a street food festival. I don’t think my own style will change, I mean, all the basics and preps will be done in the same way we do in my kitchens. What will probably change a bit is the presentation of the dishes, not because we are in the “street” but mainly because we will cater for many people.

How are you planning to serve up some flavour at Street Fest and show off cooking at its best?

I think we will go with our own traditional Portuguese flavours. I don’t know anyone who does not like them. At least they never let me down!

Family and community are a huge part of food culture. How has that changed with the popularity of street food?

The emergence of street food has truly put family at the heart of the culinary experience, because you can bring all your family, kids included, and not have to worry about dress code or etiquette. It’s all about the food and having a good time together.

Why is it important to cultivate and support a local food culture in the UAE alongside an upmarket gourmet one?

Gourmet food attracts a different and more sophisticated clientele, usually people who are used to travelling and going to upmarket restaurants. But local food shows our traditions and origins that can’t or shouldn’t be forgotten. We should be proud of who we are and where we came from.

Street Fest will take place in Al Ain at Al Ain Zoo on 8th and 9th December and in Abu Dhabi at Lake Park, Corniche from 14th to 16th and 21st to 23rd December. Tickets start from AED 30. For more information, visit: abudhabifoodfest.ae

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Street Fest: the highlights

Choose from over 40 local and international food trucks with everything from pizza, shawarmas and brisket burgers to Japanese and Nepalese fusion cuisine.

With live music on the bill across each weekend, visitors can enjoy great tunes from former Kool & the Gang lead singer JT Taylor, as well as Emirati singer Hamdan Al Abri, RnB artist Hamza Hawsawi and local group The Recipe.

Local graffiti artists including Mad Ink, SlowMoe and Melancholyarmy will be on hand to show off their skills and offer art workshops for children – and don’t miss the breakdancing class.

For foodies, blind tasting competitions and a barbecue workshop await to perfect
your technique.

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