As Enigma at Palazzo Versace Dubai takes the city's culinary scene by storm, FOUR speaks to Patrick Robineau, Hotel Manager and visionary at the luxury hotel...
Since Enigma opened its doors on January 10, the restaurant has so far succedeed in its pledge to deliver one of the most exclusive dining experiences in the whole of the Middle East. Bringing some of the world’s best chefs to entertain just a few discerning diners on an unexpected multi-sensory journey, where each chef will tell their own unique culinary story.
Where were you born and where did you grow up?
I am from Paris and grew up within the hospitality industry as my god mother use to run successful and famous restaurant/nightclubs in Paris. My mother is Spanish and immigrated to France at the age of 18, she has always been the best cook ever for me and my dear father who has sadly recently past away was French from the Loire Valee famous for its wines.
How did you get into your line of work?
Thanks to my god mother I was exposed to the industry from a very young age and would be dining at some of the best restaurants. They would often take me on their travels to Monaco, Italy of Aix Les Bains and we would always stay or eat in the best places. I was privileged by those opportunities as my parents did not have the means to live such lifestyle. From a very young age I was having some great experiences and this influenced greatly my decision to be an hotelier as I saw my god mother as a role model. Gastronomy, innovation, music and art became a real passion.
Tell us a bit about the design and concept of the new ENIGMA dining experience within the Versace Palazzo Dubai?
The interiors of Enigma have been designed by house of Versace to become a white canvas for gastronomy experiences. Enigma breaks the conventional barriers of a restaurant as we know it. The Concept will always evolve with its time and features chefs with unique talents. But the experience goes beyond gastronomy. At Enigma, we don’t talk about menus but experiences. Diners come to the restaurant to be entertained and we do just that…
This is a completely new concept for the Dubai dining scene, what makes it so unique in your opinion?
Enigma is the world’s first restaurant to change 4 times a year its entire concept, tableware and atmosphere featuring Michelin star chefs amongst the 50 best in the world. The concept disrupts convention, it is a trend that start out small but can wind up transforming the way we live and I believe that Enigma will inspire not only restaurants but also other businesses to re-think : Function VS Evolving lifestyle.
Do you think there has been a shift in the way fine dining is being presented?
Absolutely. The formal has become informal and with an eye towards the "atmosphere", this is particularly relevant with the Dubai food scene. The experience must include some awe-inspiring elements of surprise. Fine dining has evolved into a more experiential state where comfort is essential while enjoying great food. The Michelin guide is now listing some the great restaurants that would have never been considered a few years back simply because they did not have a table cloth. Casualness in the service has also become accepted provided that it remains efficient and tactful.
Where did the inspiration come from for the ENIGMA project?
We wanted to create a timeless concept that evolves with trends. The current environment in which we live in is fast pace and evolves rapidly. What’s in today may not be entirely appropriate or suitable in the next 6 months so as a business how do we evolve? Companies including restaurants need to pay attention to the changing ways consumers act and think, because if we don't adapt, we'll be left behind. The concept allows us to be always fresh and new in the market.
What do you hope guests will expect when they walk into the new restaurant, and the hotel in general?
Palazzo Versace Dubai is truly symbolic of the Versace lifestyle with elegant design and a range of well-crafted Italian furnishings. Our service is intuitive and genuine. Palazzo Versace Dubai is to become our guest’s inevitable desire. We want them to leave the hotel and our restaurant with unforgettable memories through what they have experienced and lived.
What do you think will leave the biggest impression on guests who visit ENIGMA?
The effect of surprises with every interaction. They are to expect the unexpected and of course memorable gastronomy. Each Chef we select will bring to Dubai something new that has never been seen or experienced before in the region.
What are you most looking forward to with the launch of the new dining space at The Palazzo Versace Dubai?
I look forward to seeing smiles and positive comments. I am also very excited by the current team onboard and I look forward to seeing them develop and gain knowledge thru the exposure they will have in working with the world’s best chefs.
Do you have any hints at who will be featuring in the exclusive chef series at ENIGMA, after Chef Dacosta?
At this stage it would need to remain an...enigma!