UAE: Afternoon tea has long been a ceremonious experience, bringing us together over a charming, artistic setting
“Cookery is naturally the most ancient of the arts, as of all arts it is the most important,” once said George Ellwanger, an American horticulture scientist. Whilst he may have been speaking about the real act of cooking, one can’t argue that plating the meal, snack or beverage is an art itself; especially in 2022, when we eat with our eyes (read: Instagram) foremost.
No wonder, the humble act of consuming tea has also gone all artistic, with more colours, unique ideas, chic three-tier stands, and more. We stop to savour a cuppa, absorb in the artistic vibes and of course grab a bite too.
The creative inspirations
Chef Julien Jacob, executive pastry chef, Jumeirah Al Naseem, shared his story behind the Turtle Tea served at the Al Mandhar Lounge, an experience in partnership with artist Idriss B. “When I started working with Jumeirah Al Naseem, I was told about the Turtle Rehabilitation program and was inspired by the efforts of the team. I think that inspiration surrounds us and where there is a theme or trend, there is a multitude of ideas that can stem from it. I was later asked to lead on the new afternoon tea concept, A La Mode, which was the perfect opportunity to incorporate my love for baking as well as bring awareness to the program. With that in mind, I wanted to take the concept further and contacted Idriss B to collaborate on the project. As someone, who is passionate about the environment himself, he worked alongside us to bring to life our vision incorporating his stunning and handmade sculptures.”
Both design and colour play equal parts, it’s important to serve up a visually pleasing display.
Chef Julien Jacob, executive pastry chef, Jumeirah Al Naseem
Interestingly, pieces from the artist’s art collection are on display in the hotel lobby. “Inspiration can be found anywhere, and sometimes, it finds those who seek it. For the Le Gouter Afternoon Tea, I needed something that would complement the elegant coffee lounge’s design and aesthetics and found myself inspired by women’s jewellery. The concept is an ode to the outlet name, bijou (‘jewel’ in French), and the insatiable love women have for jewellery, design, and details,” said chef Romain Castet, Sofitel Dubai, The Obelisk. Working with his team, he created a jewellery box inspired afternoon tea concept forBijou Patisserie, in which a jewellery box reveals a variety of savoury and sweet French delicacies; igniting the sense of awe that women feel when at home in the afternoon, marvelling at their jewellery and tucking the delicate pieces safely into boxes.
Colours play a huge role to add to the appeal and shape the first impression when it comes to high-tea.
Chef Romain Castet, Sofitel Dubai, The Obelisk
It all starts with the three-tier stand
“A great afternoon tea should be a visual and taste celebration. It should be beautifully presented so that the eyes are satisfied before the taste buds,” said Bruno Guillox, general manager, Voco Bonnington, Dubai. Voco’s afternoon tea includes a generous display of sandwiches, canapes, cakes, sweets, scones, tea, and coffee at The Authors' Lounge. At the Al Mandhar Lounge, the bites are presented atop the sculpture by the designer, “We present the bites as elegant ‘flying bites’, using silver as a hue to match the brand’s colour palette to further represent and embody the elegance of the experience,” added Julien, who serves a well-crafted afternoon tea paired with the limited-edition Pistachio latte or a pot of fine loose-leaf tea, freshly brewed hot and iced gourmet coffee.
The three-tier stand has an important visual impact as we taste with our eyes first.
Bruno Guillox, general manager, Voco Bonnington, Dubai
A play of colours
“Colours play an important role when it comes to displaying; bright colours are always attractive and give you a fresh feeling,” said Mohamed Mora, director, food and beverage, Raffles Dubai. He added how many elements are involved in creating an afternoon tea like food presentation, quality of food and beverage, etc. but what makes a difference is an experience which you will get while enjoying your afternoon tea. Agreed chef Romain Castet, Sofitel Dubai, The Obelisk, who played with pastel shades of light pink and light blue, with interiors of white lining to exude a very delicate, feminine, and subtle luxurious effect, “So as to compliment the colourful and fragile French pastries rather than overpower them.”