How the local culinary scene is moving to the next level with guest Chefs and experiential dining
Within the wide desert landscapes of the first UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Nabataean city of Hegra in AlUla, there is a range of new restaurants with renowned chefs that are breaking barriers and redefining the dining experience.
World famous at its base in Marbella, Mamzel has introduced its first pop-up in the Hidden Canyons of AlUla. With it comes along its trademark entertainment and international cuisine, with a restaurant aiming to seat 80 to 100, and will be open from 9 pm to 12 am on weekdays and will be open for an extra hour on weekends.
Exciting entertainment with live performances of both classical and contemporary music, including a vast dinner menu featuring all the seafood favorites such as sea bass curry, king prawns and scallops, lamb shoulder, and Black Angus barbecued steak with chimichurri sauce and farofa.
The Head Chef of Mamzel restaurant, Alberto Martinez Muñoz says, “ venue is an exquisite fusion of modernity, sophistication, and exoticism. It is really special to find Mamzel in such a fantastic location – so much more than I could ever have imagined.”
“AlUla has wowed us in every way, we are very lucky to have Mamzel Marbella’s first international pop-up at the home of Saudi Arabia’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site. There’s a very good variety of venues here in AlUla, something for every palate and mood. We are looking forward to welcoming everyone here to Mamzel for their own unique experience.”
After opening with immense success in 2018, the Awna Restaurant and Tea Lounge will return to the UNESCO Heritage Site of Hegra on January 23. It will offer fine dining delights within its tasting menus, and a large variety of internationally acclaimed Chefs from London and European restaurants, which together bring more than 50 years of Michelin-star experience to the table.
The executive chef of Awna, Chef Anthony Jehanno received his first Michelin star in 2017, and he will be working alongside celebrated guest Chefs to create a memorable experience over the next few months, while also drawing inspiration from the region’s heritage in his ingredients used such as dates, wheat, citrus fruit, AlUla honey and more to create a range of dishes that are unique and have provenance and style.
The Chefs that will be working alongside Jehanno as guests have an incredible wealth of experience in some of the most famous kitchens in the world. They include executive pastry Chef David Girard, Oxeye founder Sven Hansen Britt, Kae Shibata, pastry sous Chef at the Ritz in London, Carter’s of Moseley Chef Brad Carter, and celebrated Icelandic Chef Aggi Sverrisson.
Tristram Hillier, Co-Founder and CEO of the Mistral Hospitality Group, the international luxury hospitality business behind the Awna concept, said, “At Awna, we are bringing diners on a journey of discovery into local flavors, immersing them in the history of the Incense Road and the culture of previous civilizations, including the well-documented the ancient Nabataean love of banqueting.”
Executive Chef at Awna, Chef Anthony Jehanno says, “AlUla is famous for a wide variety of products due to the abundance of the Oases that provide respite from the desert. At Awna, we are committed to working with the best from the local supply chain but also respecting the heritage ingredients as a core part of our concept for Awna. We delight in working with ingredients that recent archeological explorations have shown existed as the basis for banquets for 3000 years.”
The Heart of Oasis Restaurant is another unique dining experience available. The restaurant, located among the 2 million date palms that form the green vein running through the ancient cities, will be available from January 30. With its new interpretation of the ‘farm to fork’ concept, The Heart of Oasis celebrates the slow food movement by promoting local food and traditional cooking through a menu that includes a delicious selection of meat-based dishes and more.
Saudi Chefs that are breaking barriers, will lead a team of emerging culinary talents to combine the fruits of the AlUla Oasis and freshly farmed local produce with technical advancements, produced at the internationally acclaimed Ferrandi Paris School of Culinary arts. Diners will be immersed in a culinary experience steeped in 7,000 years of human history and local agriculture.
A new local restaurant on the scene, Tawlet Fayza will open permanently in AlUla in February 2023, offering a unique culinary experience. Located in the oasis, the restaurant offers farm-to-table organic food inspired by the founder’s grandmother who is originally from the area, with an evolving menu and one communal table, which is definitely ideal for meeting new friends.
AlUla has more on the menu with a Fresh Food Market running from January 27 to March 25. Free and open to all, the market will feature outdoor stalls offering locally sourced farm-fresh produce. From pomegranates, oranges, and other fresh, seasonal fruit to local vegetables including eggplant, onions, peppers, lettuce, and more.
There will be stalls showcasing local cuisine and recipes, which will give visitors a taste of home-cooked Saudi favorites, including tasty Jarish, fresh Majrafah bread, crispy samosas, and salad, while local artisans demonstrate their handicraft talents through pottery, baskets, beadwork, soaps, jams and more.
This Fresh Food Market is a continuation of activities hosted earlier this season, including the AlUla Citrus Festival and Flavours of AlUla, a fun and colorful celebration of food, art, and local produce.
Phillip Jones, Chief Destination Management and Marketing Officer at the Royal Commission for AlUla (RCU) discussed, “AlUla is an untapped pantry of produce and with all the naturally grown ingredients in the oasis, we are excited to bring some truly groundbreaking activations and fun experiential culinary events for all to appreciate the tastes of AlUla and its surrounds.”
“With our carefully curated schedule including celebrity Chefs, pop-up restaurants, and a focus on local produce in this wonderful and spectacular setting, AlUla is offering a new and unique destination for dining and visitors who travel on their stomachs.”