AN ARTISANAL ENTREPRENEUR
His new restaurant venture in Dubai shows his unique perspective on
creating moments to enjoy the finer elements of good living.
“Firas Fawaz is somewhat of a U.F.O. (this reads: Unidentified Fooding Object)”. Elaborate!
I have always had a passion for food. I truly enjoy going to good places that serve great cuisine, which always starts with the best produce. Dining is not just about cuisine, though. It’s about the moments, creating memories and bringing people together. Fine-dining restaurants are not only about food, they are also about mood. It is a full-blown experience that brings together design, ambiance, care, service and everything beautiful. Indeed, I have an eye for beauty in all its’ various forms and expressions, with interests not solely in cuisine, but in jewelry, fashion and art, particularly photography, my lifetime companion. That is why I sometimes feel like a UFO : why categorize yourself solely as a restaurant owner, when there are also very interesting means of expressions, which can be involved in our F&B business as well. All these interests come together at The Artisan making it more than a restaurant : it’s a lifestyle destination.
Lebanon, Belgium, now UAE… where else have you been or aspire to go? How has travel added to your food and fashion sense?
I have lived in Africa, a different world all together, where you see things you wouldn’t see anywhere else, where you learn patience. Asia is where I would like to go next, for business as well as pleasure. I am curious to discover this part of the world. I got exposed to different cuisines and styles of cooking. Each city has its own flavour, allowing one to appreciate the architecture, the fashion and the food. Before traveling, I always make a wish-list of new places to discover and I make it a point to be loyal and return to my favorite spots.
From diamonds to fashion to Art photography and now gourmet, Can you tell us how you made these transitions… and what else is on your mind to add to your artistic portfolio?
Art has always been involved in all these stages of my life. There is beauty in everything you see and do. When I started developing The Artisan, I wanted to offer guests a unique experience, involving all
Can you describe what in your opinion encompasses a complete dining experience?
You should always start with food. And then atmosphere, which includes warmth of service. Then, you add the space itself, an inviting non-pretentious setting, a homogenous, smooth décor, that pleases the eye. It’s about harmony between the cuisine, who serves it
Would you describe yourself as a style/art mentor or guru?
I don’t have a guru in my life yet. I prefer to pick influences from different people and keep my mind open to all. In every field there is someone I look up to and appreciate. Annie Féolde, for one, because she built up what once was a small place into the Michelin star institution it has become today.
Describe your experience in developing the EP brand here in Dubai. You met the couple several times…
It was both an exciting and challenging experience as we are on a very competitive market. Creating a sustainable brand in Dubai required respecting the heritage of Enoteca Pinchiorri, while offering something new and adapted to the likings of the very demanding GCC clientele. Basically creating a home-grown concept, with an international history. Annie Féolde and Giorgio Pinchiorri were knowledgeable enough to avoid exact duplication of the Florentine concept. They were comprehensive, supportive, but at no point did they compromise on savoir-faire. We met repeatedly, in Dubai and in Florence, for over a year and half, so that we would pitch The Artisan to Dubai, in the most
So how is The Artisan by EP Dubai going to be different from the original one in Italy?
The Artisan is a brand created with the spirit and soul of Enoteca Pinchiorri, especially for Dubai, to start with. It is a refined casual version of the Italian mothership. We have toned-down the codes of Michelin-starred institution, staying faithful to produce appreciation, while getting rid of the stuffiness you sometimes find in gastronomical venues.
What is the signature dish at the Artisan by EP Dubai, the one dish that nobody should miss out on?
The Signora, as we like to call her with affection, loves all her dishes, very much like a mother loves all her children. At The Artisan, we deliberately chose to work on a balanced menu, with star dishes only. But, if I had to pick a personal favorite… Well, I would say, the Slow-Cooked Octopus… and the Agnolloti… and the Salt-crusted sea bass… I know I might be getting a bit carried away, but how can I choose one item on the menu, when I have been involved in its creation every step of the way.
What is the Artisan by EP classic dessert… you
Without any hesitation : The Real Tiramisu and Our Profiteroles… I do have a sweet tooth.
Firas – your personal view on ‘Art In Life’… any advice to our readers on why art is crucial to development personally and in society?
Art is an escape from reality and a means to feed your mind and imagination. Each form of art or artist defines the cultural environment in which they evolve. Art has both a personal and social outreach, it is subjective in taste yet objective
Dubai is a lot about ‘Eating Out’, ‘Fast Life’, hard-working professionals who mostly have breakfast on-the-go, take-away lunches… what would some of your healthy food tips be for them?
Balance is necessary in life and I believe food is part of that balance. I don’t deprive myself of anything, but try to moderate what I eat and team it up with regular exercise. Dieting and strong restrictions are just not for me.
Your favourite food as you grew up and can still go running back to eat the same food at the same place?
Definitely my mom’s cooking, without a doubt : Lebanese – Mediterranean cuisine.
If tomorrow were the last day on the planet – how would you love to spend the next 24 hours?
It’s a bit early for me to imagine that day at this stage in my life. But, if you insist, definitely in an amazing city with the people I love.
Finally, what is your vision, where do you see yourself 5 years down the road?
My vision is to expand the brand and go global, bringing the taste of The Artisan to other cities in the world and back to its roots, in Italy.