The culinary veteran talks about returning to Hilton Dubai Jumeirah after launching Bice there 22 years ago
Born in Sicily, into a family where food is both business and pleasure, Andrea Mugavero’s passion for cooking started at a very early age. He would help in the kitchen and learn how to bake all kinds of treats. Mugavero went on to became head chef at the famous La Saliere Restaurant in Monte Carlo at a young age, which took his culinary expertise to the next level.
After Monte Carlo, he spent the next few years in Rome, working alongside renowned chefs, mastering new techniques and managing the family restaurant business, before joining the five-star Cogeta Palace Hotel – one of the top hotels in Parma, Italy – as head chef. It was here that he was headhunted by Bice Group to become their executive chef, overseeing a number of their international branches, including those in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Spain and Turkey.
Now, 22 years after launching Bice at Hilton Dubai Jumeirah, he has returned to the hotel to launch and run Vero restaurant.
Vero seafood platter
Connecting Travel: What professional achievements are you most proud of?
Andrea Mugavero: Winning The Best Chef in Dubai is one achievement I’m very proud of, together with opening Vero at Hilton Dubai Jumeirah this year and being involved in all stages of this restaurant establishment – from the planning and name choosing to the menu creation, staff training and marketing, and now welcoming guests. It’s been an incredible year working with some incredible people.
CT: You have worked in cities across the globe. What attracted you to Dubai?
AM: The year 2000, when I moved to Dubai, was right time for me to pursue new goals and take on new challenges. I am lucky to have had the opportunity to see it growing and evolving over the last 20 years or so. Countless culinary opportunities have made Dubai my home.
What attracted me to rejoin Hilton for the Vero project was the opportunity to create something special from scratch in a great location, with a great brand
CT: How does Dubai’s F&B compare to other markets?
AM: Dubai is very open to new innovations and very quick to make things happen, which is where it leads in comparison to the other markets.
Consistency in quality and standards of service in restaurants is where I still believe improvement can be done
CT: What culinary trends would you like to see grow?
AM: Covid-19 changed how we think about food and turned attention to where our food comes from – sourcing local fresh ingredients came to the top of my list. We should all follow the trend for homemade and fresh produce, and I’d like to see more growth in restaurant-branded meal kits to go, plant-based meals and low waste food.
CT: What makes your dishes stand out?
AM: It’s the colour of the sauces and vegetables and how fresh our seafood is. It’s how you feel after the dishes at Vero; they’re not heavy pasta dishes that you would expect from an Italian restaurant, they’re perfectly balanced dishes.
CT: Are there any flavours, ingredients or techniques from this region that have inspired you to create new dishes?
AM: Over the years, I got acquainted more with the beauty of the herbs of this region and I love to use them in my recipes from time to time. Being from Sicily, the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, the flavours from this region have much in common with Italian cuisine. Sicilian food also has Greek, Spanish, French and Arab influences. This is why I feel an immense pull towards this region’s food and techniques when I am in my kitchen at Vero.
For more information, visit www.hilton.com/en/hotels/dxbjbhi-hilton-dubai-jumeirah/dining/vero