Ajaz Sheikh, Managing Director, Zuma ME and Turkey divulges his secrets on guilty pleasures, the art of divine food and the one luxury he will never give up on.
How do you define luxury?
This might be cliché but the older I get, the more I value time as the ultimate luxury. With the new Zuma in Abu Dhabi and another new opening at the Hotel D-Maris in Turkey, I am working round the clock. Sometimes I just wish I had a few more hours in the day to relax and do nothing or spend a day with family, a few of whom are based in the UAE. I believe time is an essential element from a business perspective as well. We try and create something new for our customers every day. Creating something truly exceptional takes time, and we believe to thoroughly savour something exquisite takes time as well.
What is your guilty pleasure?
I must admit that I find it hard to avoid the desserts at Zuma, which are just incredible, but I only give in every now and then. There is a green tea and banana cake with toffee sauce that has been on the menu for years and then earlier this year we introduced a whole new selection. I challenge anyone not to find them irresistible.
What makes food luxurious?
Attention to detail. The freshest and most exquisite ingredients prepared by a skilled chef and presented beautifully convey a sense of luxury to me. It’s not just about truffles and caviar and other extremely rare or expensive ingredients, but about how a mind-blowing dish can be made out of the simple ingredients, when perfectly cooked together. I can have a simple seabass, but with one bite I distinctly taste four different flavours, I believe that is true art, and it is that which makes food luxurious. I will say that the surroundings that you consume the food to play a major part as well.
What is the most decadent dish you have ever eaten that’s not from your restaurants?
Without a doubt this would be the burrata with tomatoes and basil at La Petite Maison. A signature dish that I have seen in every La Petite Maison around the world, will blow anyone away. I would highly suggest it to everyone. Again, I just love the simplicity of the dish and the flavors.
Is there a luxury that you will not give up?
This is a hard question as living in Dubai, one gets spoilt and takes for granted the indispensable norms that would be the ultimate luxury in most countries. However, investing in fine watches is something I will probably never give up.