Last Bite: Le Cirque's Mauro Maccioni
What is the most exciting thing about your job?
I love the travel that comes with it. I was in Abu Dhabi yesterday visiting our other restaurant, Circo. And before that I was in New Delhi, Bangalore and Mumbai visiting our Le Cirque restaurants. We had a pop-up chef visiting and I was there for a week. A lot of it is work but I did manage to go and see the Taj Mahal.
After 40 years of running Le Cirque, which is considered a New York institution, what made you decide to open in Dubai?
Well, Le Cirque was started in New York by my father Sirio Maccioni almost four decades ago and Dubai is obviously a very exciting market, especially for luxury goods. We consider Le Cirque a luxury international brand. So when we had an opportunity with friends that we had in Dubai, and they asked us if we wanted to open an outpost, we kind of jumped at the offer.
How would you describe the food scene in Dubai?
I think it’s wonderful; there is a lot of product and options for people to choose from, so it’s more and more difficult to stay on the top. A lot of the food scene is still driven by social elements, the ‘seen and be seen’ kind of environment. But the food is still up there. Little by little there will be a move towards a bit more appreciation towards food and fine dining. Right now, it’s more about casual dining but I think it’s slowly moving towards gourmet.
Compared to New York, how different is it to run a restaurant in Dubai?
I find both cities very similar, people want what they want. In some markets I find that you can dictate to people what they should like. In Dubai, like New York, I think people are very straightforward and unfussy. If they want a hamburger, then they want a good hamburger.
How has business been in Dubai since you’ve opened?
Business has been quite competitive, everyday there’s a new and different concept — be it a celebrity chef or an innovative concept. The competition is healthy and it drives everyone to stay on par and push themselves. We are just getting started here at Le Cirque Dubai and we’re in the process of getting introduced to the market. We are quite excited for the fall and we are fine tuning the food here, which is quite phenomenal.
What made you join the restaurant business?
My first epiphany was when my father took me to eat at Paul Bocuse’s restaurant in Lyon, France. When I was there, eating the île flottante (the ‘floating island’ dessert) and the filet mignon, I was in awe of the food and that’s when I knew at the age of 10 that I wanted to follow my father’s footsteps and join the restaurant business.
How would you define good food?
My mother’s cooking.
Your last meal on earth?
A French pot-au-feu.