Outlet 360: Mix by Alain Ducasse
Front of house
What is Mix by Alain Ducasse? It’s casual light bites after work at the bar area. It’s fine dining inside a golden Faberge egg. It’s drinks on the terrace overlooking the Arabian Gulf. It’s an intimate dinner with views of the Palm and the shores of Dubai.
To put it simply, Mix is a mixture of everything. The largest of Ducasse’s restaurants worldwide, it’s the jewel in the crown of the luxurious Emerald Palace Kempinski Dubai hotel.
The futuristic interior was designed by Manuel Clavel of Clavel Architecture and Interior Design, with each of the three distinct sections having its own look and feel. From the large bar and lounge area, to more intimate setting of Mix+ upstairs, and the private dining room and chef’s table located in the egg, Mix dares to be different.
Restaurant manager Ernesto Labrada has over a decade of experience in the trade, starting as a chef back in Cuba before transitioning to the front-of-house. It’s his responsibility to ensure that guests take full advantage of the Mix experience, and he says that the concept's offering should indeed please everyone.
“We are very confident in our quality in terms of the service. Definitely confident in the quality of the cuisine — chef Alain Ducasse is a legend, his name is well known internationally. Our team is looking to keep the quality and this is what will mark Mix as a destination, as well as providing friendly service that’s fun, interactive, and enjoyable in all areas.”
Labrada explains that it’s a much more “informal service than the Michelin star background that the chef provides in other parts of the world”, with a heavy focus on sharing bites on a menu that features elements from many different cuisines as well as some French classics you would expect from Ducasse.
Labrada tells us that Ducasse’s team in Paris has been very involved with the direction of the restaurant, saying “they have a close communication with our culinary team and front of house team in terms of wine selection, in terms of menu updates, seasonal menus, and providing a good quality of products”.
With the potential to seat up to 400 guests, Mix has big shoes to fill, but the team hope that the Ducasse name and stunning surroundings will make it a destination worth visiting.
Back of house
The man with the heavy task of implementing Alain Ducasse’s trademark skills on the Mix menu every day is Hugues Gerard. Still young at only 30-years old, Gerard does however have eight years of working directly under Ducasse in Monaco, Paris, and London, before coming to Mix as head chef.
Along with the expectation of the Ducasse name, Gerard’s job at Mix involves a broad range of cuisines rather than just one.
“Like the name it’s a mix of food,” he explains. “Alain Ducasse has 30 restaurants around the world in seven different countries and we use each country. We have Asian food, French food, Italian food… Mr Ducasse started in Monaco, and I also started in Monaco, and it’s the earth of his cuisine.”
Gerard also emphasises that Mix is not a fine dining concept, saying that “in Dubai the people don’t like fine dining restaurants so we don’t want to do something like that. The place is huge so we wanted something casual, cool, with a good ambiance. Somewhere where the guests can do whatever they want to do.”
And that emphasis on the guests’ choice is an important part of Mix, with Gerard saying Mix is “a gastronomic restaurant, bistro restaurant, brasserie restaurant” all rolled into one, and if a guest wants something, they can do it.
Produce-wise, Gerard says the team at Mix tries to make it as seasonal as possible, despite Dubai’s year-long sunshine, saying that in winter they “work with almost all winter produce”. Fortunately Gerard has no issues bringing in the items he needs. “You can find anything in Dubai, Dubai is in the middle of the world. If you need something from Australia, from China, from everywhere, you can find it.”
Although Gerard prefers to stay away from the word tapas, the “little bites” including octopus are easy to share and customers who come in for a drink at the bar are taking up the option of having a few.
With the private chef’s table on the top floor also in operation, it means there’s a wide variety of different concepts within the restaurant, whether light bites or essentially fine dining, and Gerard says it’s “nice” for the chefs on his team to be able to vary their day between the different parts of Mix – going from helping with the main menu to crafting a special one for diners upstairs.
In total, Gerard is in charge of a team of 25 including six pastry chefs and he says they have gelled quickly. “I am very lucky with this. With openings it’s difficult to have a good team from the beginning but I’ve got a very good team with a very good spirit. They are happy to work with Alain Ducasse because to them he is the best chef in the world and they love this.”
In the kitchen they use Electrolux appliances and a Molteni stove. The open kitchen is viewable from the main area of the restaurant and is extremely spacious. “The kitchen is huge,” confirms Gerard, “we have a lot of space to work. That is very important and very good for us because we are 19 in the kitchen and we are not on top of each other.”