Michelin-starred chef to open Libyan outlet

Vineet Bhatia to teach Libyan's "how to cook", not "how to suck eggs"
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Vineet Bhatia will open an outlet in Libya in May.
Vineet Bhatia will open an outlet in Libya in May.

The first Indian chef to receive a Michelin-star, Vineet Bhatia, is set to open a restaurant in Libyan capital Tripoli.

Due to open in May, the outlet will join Bhatia’s growing number of restaurants across the Arab world, with his name currently attached to outlets in Dubai, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.

"It will be stand-alone unit outside the city centre,” said Bhatia. “The menu will be quite laid back and relaxed as it will be a large restaurant, with more of a Mediterranean feel."

Recognised as one of Britain’s most talented Indian chefs, Bhatia was presented with his first Michelin star in 2001, and has seen his empire expand across Europe and the Middle East ever since.

Bhatia said that despite its controversial modern past, Libya was now a good place in which to do business, adding that one of the motives for going to Libya was to teach Libyan’s how to cook.

“When Libya opens up it will boom,” he commented. “There are a lot of people who are looking at Libya for business opportunities.

“I probably am the first [celebrity] chef to go there and at the moment there is only one five-star hotel, which is not really five-star when compared to Europe or Dubai.”

The outlet will not be at the five-star property however, stated Bhatia, who confirmed the outlet would be a stand-alone development.

“Some of the best products I’ve seen in my life are actually in Libya,” he asserted. “The fish, the lamb, you name it; the organic food is fresh and grown locally in abundance, but the Libyan’s don’t know how to cook.

“I’m not going to teach Libyans how to suck eggs, but I’ll teach them the way I cook my food and hopefully they will like it,” he added.

Despite the lack of any formal culinary training school or gastronomic scene, Bhatia said the country’s government was supporting his move into the North African country, with the owner of the restaurant the son of Colonel Gaddafi chief of staff.

“We can get in and get out safely without getting hassled,” noted Bhatia. “It’s a beautiful city and a beautiful country, the ruins are absolutely stunning and totally untouched, and the people are very warm and friendly.”

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