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A day in the life: 1Life Kitchen & Café head chef Kelvin Kelly

Creating dishes and memories at the Dubai Design District venue
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A day in the life, 1life, D3, Dubai Design District, Dubai cafe

A typical day for head chef Kelvin Kelly.

6am: My wife wakes me up with a cup of coffee, sometimes it’s my one-year-old daughter when she comes in waving like the queen shouting from the top of her voice, “da-da-da”. I chill in bed for a while drinking my coffee and talking with my daughter, trying to spend some quality time with her. While she's milling around the room I multi task and check on reports from the day before, including reports from our in-house bakery and overall production reports.

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6:30am: As a chef it’s good to practice what you preach, so I always start my day with a healthy, leafy, full of fruit and veg smoothie. I start getting ready for work: it’s important to try and have work/life balance, so before heading out, I spend some more time with my daughter and go on our father-daughter morning walk.

7:30am: I start heading to my second home - 1Life. Listening to a motivational audio book or podcast, while I’m driving; it helps set me up for the day. Once I’m at work, I start by doing staff rounds, checking in with them and just casual banter with all the staff. 1Life is a second family, the staff, owner and I are all very close. 

8:30am: I have my second cup of coffee. I start checking productions, quality checks on goods received for the day, and keep track of bakery production. Unlike many other cafes in Dubai that get their bakery items from a supplier, we have an around the clock bakery that produces the freshest baked goods, all which of course are enjoyed by our customers daily.

9:30am: It's time for my second breakfast – most days it’s some scrambled eggs on freshly made sourdough with tomato, fresh basil, and our homemade chili sauce. 

10am: No two days are the same but typically the owner/founder of 1Life, Necip, and I take a walk around d3 chatting about life, dreams and menu items. Our aim is that every dish on the menu has that “more-ish effect“ taking really good dishes to outstanding dishes. On these walks we have created some of our most loved and ordered dishes. The popular alfalfa romeo vegan sandwich was manifested during this brain storming time!

11:30am: I spend this hour tasting and making changes to our salad counter, we have quite a large salad counter that could rival any New York deli and it changes daily. We have 52 salads on rotation, which might be the largest salad selection in the UAE. We serve 10 each day, using the freshest produce which is locally sourced to ensure the freshest and tastiest salads.

12:30pm: This is when things start to get busy. As Dubai Design District is the hub of everything creative we always have a huge lunch rush during the week. I’m on the pass, expediting and calling orders, ensuring quality, making sure dishes are correct, following up, a little bit of shouting, a little bit of laughing and trying not to have a whole service unravel before my eyes.

2:30pm Major lunchtime rush is winding down and my brain is fried. This is the time I re-acclimate by chatting with more customers and sip on some more tea.

3pm: Lunch time. Necip and I would normally sit down for lunch together, usually joined by a customer or two. I would take this opportunity to try out some new dishes I have in my back pocket from the new vegan menu or breakfast menu or just grab a salad along with some grilled chicken, this helps me maintain my physique.

3:45pm: Admin. I start doing paperwork, like responding to emails, event enquiries, etc. This is the time most of my meetings are scheduled with suppliers or site visits.

5:45pm: I check on the kitchen, making sure production is ready for the next day, mis en place, check if ordering was correct and was sent out, and finally, staff briefing of the day and the next. Then, I have my second last cup of coffee before heading out and preparing to do it all over again the next day.

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