In the kitchen with Tom at Pots, Pans & Boards at The Beach

Dear Diary,

I confess. I have a soft spot for chefs. The more stars, the better. So what better way to spend the morning than in the kitchen with a Michelin-starred chef?

Mum got to meet Tom Aikens on his last Dubai visit. How jealous was I? But last week, I was one of a few lucky bloggers who was invited to spend an hour with him – up close and personal – at his Dubai outpost, Pots, Pans &  Boards. #starstruck

This is the stuff foodies dream of. (The ones who like to cook, anyway…) One full hour chatting away with a Michelin-starred chef whilst blanching tomatoes, making meatballs, chiffonading basil and whipping up a chocolate fondant. Swoon. He may look bored, but he’s excited to see us, I promise.

Tom Aikens in his kitchen at Pots Pans and Boards The Beach Dubai

Tom’s totally down-to-earth. A bit shy at the outset (perhaps because his otherwise testosterone-filled kitchen was now full of women), but he regaled us with stories about his one and only visit to India during the 2005 floods in Mumbai, the time his daughter called his cooking disgusting, and what he thinks of food bloggers who spend too long taking photos so their food goes cold (I have no idea what he’s talking about). All in between demonstrating his expert knife skills and meatball-mixing abilities.

On this day, we were his students. Here’s Tom explaining how to blanch tomatoes which we will then proceed to chop with near Michelin-star accuracy. I was too camera-happy and starstruck that I wasn’t quite paying attention and it seems I cut my tomatoes incorrectly. But it was so worth it for the special attention I got from Tom later.

Tom Aikens blanching tomatoes at Pots Pans and Boards The Beach Dubai

Tom then talked us through what he’s mixing into his special lamb meatballs – brioche breadcrumbs, ras el hanout, chili, salt, plus a few other special ingredients. He mixes the mince and we roll the balls, which will go into the tomato sauce we’re so diligently helping to prepare.

Tom Aikens mixing meatballs at Pots Pans and Boards The Beach Dubai

The next demonstration of the day is how to chiffonade basil. Tom says not to roll the basil to avoid bruising it. He slices the ribbons so finely and effortlessly (he’s a Michelin-starred chef after all). We, on the other hand, need a bit more practice.

Tom Aikens chopping basil at Pots Pans and Boards The Beach Dubai

The final lesson is how to make a chocolate fondant cake. This well-known cake is deceptively simple. We melt the Valrhona chocolate and butter in a bain marie, whisk together the eggs and sugar, add the flour and cocoa, then whisk in the melted chocolate and butter mixture. Tom bakes it for us and voila! Melty-centred chocolate goodness.

Melting chocolate at Pots Pans and Boards The Beach Dubai

Here’s my chocolate fondant cake before baking. Tom, I’m ready to be hired!

Chocolate fondant before baking at Pots Pans and Boards The Beach Dubai

But I guess we’re not ready to be full-fledged chefs yet because here’s Tom and Ibby putting the finishing touches on our food.

Tom Aikens and Ibby at Pots Pans and Boards The Beach Dubai

And here’s the result. Ah, these meatballs! Not only are they extra delicious because they were mixed by Tom and enhanced with my own hand dirt, but they are sitting on the creamiest polenta I’ve ever eaten, cooked in a Thermomix (whatever that is). Don’t think it was intentional (but maybe it was ’cause he’s a Michelin-starred chef after all!) but I love the splatter effect in the bowl and the heavy sprinkling of parmesan. Look Mum, we helped make that!

Meatballs and polenta at Pots Pans and Boards The Beach Dubai

My chocolate fondant cake doesn’t look too shabby either. Ok, so the labels burned off in the oven so this may not actually be my cake, but it looks good anyway. How proud are we?!

Chocolate fondant after baking at Pots Pans and Boards The Beach Dubai

After the afters.

Chocolate fondants at Pots Pans and Boards The Beach Dubai

Verdict: Would the food have tasted so good without our expert blanching, mixing, chiffonading? Most certainly so! (And probably better!) Time to have a full feast at Pots, Pans and Boards.
Note to self: Don’t be that foodie that takes 45 min to take their photos and lets the food go cold. Chef does not approve.

Pots, Pans & Boards
The Beach
Opposite JBR The Walk
Tel: 04 456 1959

Chow for now!

xx foodie

Pots, Pans & Boards Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato