No stranger to Doha’s dining scene, Jean-Georges Vongerichten this week opens Curiosa at the Four Seasons Doha. I had the chance to meet the legendary chef and get a little sneak peek at his new restaurant.
Just weeks after opening the multi cuisine concept of Tin Building in New York, Curiosa is the acclaimed chef’s latest foray in Qatar. A laid back Latin cuisine concept, located in the space that used to house the hotel’s Italian restaurant, Curiosa opens just in time for FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022. The hacienda-style venue being helmed by Edgar Hurtado formerly of IKA and Toro Toro – a chef with his own fan base in Doha. He spent time with Jean-Georges in New York this year to fine tune the concept and the flavors.
Who is Jean-Georges?
But first, a quick primer on Jean-Georges, who, heads up, is possibly one of the most humble people I have met. He has had a hand in the creation and execution of more than 60 restaurants around the globe in New York, Miami, Las Vegas, London, Paris, Shanghai, Singapore and of course, Doha.
He’s best known to Doha diners for his two restaurants at the W Doha opened back in 2009 – these were a product if his partnership with the former Starwood hotel chain. He says his new venture at the Four Seasons Doha, came via his restaurants in the Qatari-owned Connaught Hotel in London.
“We have been at the Connaught in London for five years. The relationship was there and when the idea came up to bring it to Doha…I said Doha!? I know that place! It just came by accident,” Jean-Georges says.
As opposed to his from his two other Doha spots – which are South East Asian and European – Curiosa, with its outdoors to indoors theme is very much planted in the rolling pampas of South America as well as Spain.
According to Jean Georges, known for his fine dining and this new restaurant is not so much of a departure for him: “We have something similar to Curiosa in New York called ABC Cocina which is based on Latino and Spanish food,” he says.
He also has the Matador Room in Miami which serves his interpretation of Caribbean, Spanish, and Latin and South American cuisines.
“For me the South East Asian flavors and the South American flavors are very similar. If you look at the latitude of the globe they are very similar in terms of ingredients – lime, coconut etc. These are different cuisines but similar flavors,” the master chef explains.
The day we met, he and Chef Edgar were finalizing the “finer details” of the restaurant – crockery and flatware – as well as the menu. While this is still under wraps until it opens later in October, Chef Jean Georges aid expect light, bright and made for family style dining.
“Everything that is great about Latino food – ceviches, tacos – it’s light, its vibrant, it’s cool, it’s delicious it’s also good for sharing and the cleanness of the flavors,” he says.
Chef Edgar, who describes working with Jean Georges as “a dream come true” says while we can expect seafoods and grills from his menu, vegans will also be catered for.
With four separate dining rooms, including a private space, the centerpiece is the open kitchen with the flame grill.
The restaurant’s interiors and outdoor areas are modelled on a “hacienda” – kind of like a large estate. With a clubby yet cosy indoor bar and a huge outdoor bar area with newly landscaped gardens, no expense has been spared for this new spot.
Why South American and Latino Food?
It’s no stretch to say that South American food is very much having an extended moment in Doha. Curiosa joins no less than nine South American/Latino restaurants in the city – with a couple more on the way.
Chef Edgar, who has built his reputation in Doha thanks to his eye for detail and his flair with flavors, says the cuisine is a crowd pleaser.
“Really, it’s an explosion in the mouth – you get acidity, sweetness and crispness – it’s perfect,” he says.
When can we try it?
So enough of the sneak peek at his new restaurant at the Four Seasons Doha, when can we try it? Curiosa opens on 16 October. For more details go to: https://www.fourseasons.com/doha/dining/restaurants/curiosa-by-jean-georges/