Having launched in 2018, Carine is one of the most sought-after restaurants, known for its relaxed approach to fine-dining.

Nestled amid the plush green environment of Emirates Golf Club, Carine, was the brainchild of Chef Izu who said that the two major loves in his life are his wife and bread, and carine comes together to celebrate the two seamlessly.

The restaurant is filled with all of Carine’s personal favourites from freshly baked breads inspired by the bakery she used to work in in Northern France, to her own homemade plum and apple jam, to Mediterranean specialities and of course, delicious desserts such as a passionfruit cheesecake. Overall, diners can savour French-inspired Mediterranean Cuisine by unwinding for hours.

So, to delve into the journey, Emirates Man spoke to Chef Izu about how it all began.

Talk us through your background.

Honestly, I chose to study home-economics at school as I noticed it was a class full of women which caught my eye. I remember my mother being so proud of everything I made. While that may have been what led me there when I started my passion in cooking and since then my love for it has grown. After my studies, I worked at a few London hotels and joined the Michelin-starred The Square in Mayfair, London. I then travelled to France and spent six years learning everything that French cuisine could teach me. I was lucky enough to work at a number of restaurants including two-Michelin starred La Bastide Saint Antoine and the world-renowned, three Michelin starred Auberge de L’Ill. After a short stint in Spain and I went back to London, then I moved to Dubai to launch La Petit Maison, La Serre, Gaia and of course, Carine. Since a young age, I have always wanted to be creative with food, and I am so lucky to love what I do, I never take that for granted. In my early career, I spent a lot of time in France and absorbed everything I could know about the culture and cuisine. It is where I met my wife, and it gave me a wider spectrum of knowledge and understanding. From there, I travelled to Spain, and offered my services at the Mugaritz, one of the world’s best restaurants located in San Sebastián. By working for free, I earned more than I ever expected and learned more than I could have imagined. I believe that in life, we do have to invest our time, effort and dedication to ourselves and our passions.


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You’re often regarded as Dubai’s first homegrown celebrity chef – tell us more.

Thank you, it always humbles me to hear the word celebrity. For me, cooking is a way of expressing my happiness and sharing it with others. It is a philosophy, a principle, the way we see life and how we eat. I believe those who underestimate their food, underestimate the essence of life. Having the freedom to create is really important to me, it allows me to keep expanding and growing without the fear of stagnation. We must keep moving forward, standing still kills creativity. I also love seeing how food can bring people together, through mutual respect and enjoyment. Having respect for your ingredients and the people you work with enables you to understand how to bring out the best elements of both.

Talk us through the process of creating Carine’s menu.

Carine is named after my wife, I wanted to develop something that represented a part of me, for the person that has been by my side throughout my life and career. Carine is elegant, yet adventurous and edgy, and these elements make up my journey with her. The French culture woven throughout the restaurant stems from her and everything I learned in France, from where we met and what we have built together. A good home provides the foundations from which we can go and create. Carine provides that for me, and the restaurant reflects the warm, welcoming feeling that Carine brings to our home. A feeling that soothes the soul, calms the mind, and allows you to unwind. Carine’s favourite dishes are woven throughout the menu. Her memories of working in a bakery in northern France are translated into the freshly baked breads and boulangerie, served alongside her incredible homemade plum and apple jams.

You’re always innovating with new dishes. Talk us through the creative process.

Our dishes are a constant flow of evolution and information. When developing new dishes and creating menus, we always start with the inspiration – we ask ourselves who is this dish for, why are we creating it, and how and when will it be enjoyed. My culinary team and I work very closely on new ideas, blending different flavours and ingredients, and sourcing the best produce, to test and try until we find the sweet spot. In this industry, you have to keep learning – absorb information, trends, experimentation, explore everything, and challenge the “normal”. I am so inspired by the ever-changing seasonality of food and how even the same ingredients change in taste throughout the year and around the world. This allows me to adapt new learnings and techniques into our menus and aim to offer something new to our guests.


What advice do you have for aspiring chefs who wish to make their mark?

When starting out, I encourage young chefs not to look at prestige, position, or money. When you are at the beginning of your career, your job is to extract as much information as possible. Ask questions, investigate, learn everything, take everything in, and experience it all. Looking with the eye of discovery leads you to the knowledge that helps you evolve. Don’t focus on the recipes, focus on the ingredients. Study them, speak to them, understand them. Research everything you use. Explore techniques and flavours. Asking lots of questions gives us lots of answers. Having the freedom to create is important, it allows us to keep expanding and growing without the fear of stagnation. We must keep moving forwards, standing still kills creativity. To do something that you haven’t done before, and make something that people appreciate, you have to shake things up. Do something that puts you in a different realm and breathe in the craziness of life. Our experiences shape us and make us who we are, teach us our values, and allow us to share these with the next generation. Passing on our passions and our knowledge for a beautiful future.

How has the UAE played a key role in your career?

Dubai has a way of accelerating our creativity, its ever-evolving nature gives us the ability to expand our skills and learn about different cultures, tastes, flavours, and people. To me, Dubai is not a transient place, it is somewhere that we can call home, rather than just pass through. It is a destination that allows us to grow. When we invest in ourselves, in our passions and projects, we plant the seeds of development. Seeds that can grow into cities, where we can spread our roots. It is so inspiring to live in a place where we can achieve our goals.

What have been the key milestones during your journey?

I believe milestones are often found in the small moments. I find the most pride and pleasure when I am consistent and striving towards my goals every day. When we work with passion, we can enjoy the art of dedication and practice. By focusing on improving every single day, we can see how much there is to achieve and really embrace the process.

You’re always innovating with new concepts in the F&B industry, what drives you to keep going?

We can’t pour from an empty cup! It is so important to make time for yourself, hit the reset button every day and clear your mind. I make sure I cycle every morning, my time on the bike is my meditation and it sets me up for the day. Success is a road that is always under construction, every single day, so it’s our job to bring a hard hat and keep building. Everything we associate ourselves with in life is an extension and reflection of our ambitions. When we work with passion, we can see how much there is to achieve, and our success will become our evidence.

What are your plans for expansion (Carine and other restaurants)?

We have some really exciting plans for the rest of the year and next year and I feel so grateful to be able to open our concepts internationally, across Europe, The Middle East, and the US. Whilst expansion is a key focus, it is also vital to maintain our values and quality, cooking is about creating harmony on a plate and enhancing each ingredient. It takes a lot of care to ensure excellence and consistency in every country. As far as goals go – I just want to keep growing while maintaining our values and quality, continue challenging myself, and make people happy with beautiful experiences. It’s what I love and will always love doing.

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Images: Supplied & Feature Image: Instagram @chefizu