(MENAFN Editorial) World number one Serena Williams, a star draw at this week's Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, and celebrity chef Silvena Rowe, a headline attraction at this weekend's inaugural Dubai Food Carnival “ the opening event of the 23-day Dubai Food Festival - joined forces yesterday for Dubai's first-ever 'Gastronomy Grand Slam' at Nomad restaurant in Jumeirah Creekside Hotel
Williams swapped the tennis court baseline for a frontline role at an al fresco BBQ as she linked up with Chef Rowe, the star of BBC cooking shows, Country Show Cook-Off and Saturday Kitchen, and Chef Eric Vasta, Executive Chef, Jumeirah Creekside Hotel, to whip up a 'grilled green Shawarma marinated baby chicken with crunchy mint and pomegranate salad' at the five-star property's signature restaurant. The trio came together to test their gourmet game as the Emirate prepares to host the first Dubai Food Festival, a citywide celebration of fine fare and fun that kicks off this upcoming Friday, 21 February with the opening event, the Dubai Food Carnival.
"That was a great way to help build up my appetite for another record-breaking year," joked Williams, who as the top seed, has a bye in the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships' first round and will open her bid for a maiden title against Ekaterina Makarova at Dubai Tennis Stadium today, Tuesday, 18 February. "I had a great season in 2013 and I want to build on it this year. It's my fourth time in Dubai and I feel like I have some unfinished business “ I had fun today but I'm looking forward to getting on the court."
While the BBQ grilling session did not prove as energy-sapping as any of Williams' 17 Grand Slam title wins, the American star “ who won a remarkable 11 events and recorded a career-best winning streak of 34 consecutive matches in 2013 - was impressed with the dedication and enthusiasm shown by her culinary companions.
"I've learnt that there are a lot of similarities between tennis and cooking in terms of organisation and preparation," added Williams. "In both our businesses, so much goes on behind the scenes to make sure we're at optimum level come show time. For me, it's endless hours of practice to hone my game for competitive matches; for Silvena and Eric, it's researching and selecting ingredients, trying different recipes, experimenting with flavours and techniques “ we can't afford to make mistakes when the heat is on.
Having played competitive tennis during her formative years in Bulgaria, Chef Rowe joined the Lawn Tennis Association when she moved to the UK in 1986 and even spent time in the umpire's chair at the All England Tennis Club whilst a member of the British Tennis & Umpire Association. After watching Williams win three of her five Wimbledon titles from a Centre Court seat when she was living in London, Chef Rowe is eager to see her 'ultimate idol' in action at Dubai Tennis Stadium this week
"I've always admired Serena because of the aggressive, powerful style of her tennis," said Chef Rowe. "Serena has won everything in the game and is simply phenomenal - she never gives up and is a remarkable woman. I have great respect for her physical and mental strength; she has the same kind of imposing presence on court that I have in my restaurants - she's my ultimate idol and I can't wait to see her on court in Dubai.
The Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships is owned and organised by Dubai Duty Free, and held under the patronage of HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai
Tickets for Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships are on sale from the Box Office at the Dubai Tennis Stadium, Garhoud, which is open from 9am to 9pm daily. Grandstand ticket prices range from AED75 for opening rounds to AED500 for finals, with season tickets also available. For further information about tickets, prices and the tournament, visit www.dubaidutyfreetennischampionships.com or phone the championship's call centre on 971 4 4172415
Open from 10am to 11pm on 21-22 February, the Dubai Food Carnival is part of the inaugural Dubai Food Festival, a citywide celebration taking place across the Emirate from 21 February to 15 March, 2014. Tickets to the Dubai Food Carnival are AED60 per person. Children under 12 enter free. For more information, visit www.dubaifoodcarnival.com
The Dubai Food Festival brings together some of Dubai's most popular and unique business and consumer food events including Gulfood, the world's biggest annual food and hospitality trade show, the inaugural edition of The Big Grill, a unique event dedicated to anything grilled, Taste of Peru, a four day celebration of Peruvian gastronomy, and Taste of Dubai, the Emirate's annual al fresco festival.
Spanning 23 days, at venues and events across the Emirate, the Dubai Food Festival will feature the cuisines of more than 200 nationalities in a wide range of food-related activities, tastings, offers and events that showcase Dubai's diverse culinary offering. On the calendar are appearances by Michelin starred chefs, bespoke epicurean promotions at dozens of participating restaurants and exclusive street food showcases. For more information on, and a full listing of Dubai Food Festival events, please visit www.dubaifoodfestival.com