It's been 18 months in the making, but former Melbourne chef Greg Malouf has unveiled his latest project, Cle Dubai, a glamorous 250-seater in Dubai's bustling financial district.
Since winding up his Melbourne restaurant MoMo and leaving Australia in 2012, Australia's unofficial godfather of modern Middle Eastern cuisine enjoyed a successful stint at the Michelin-starred Petersham Nurseries Cafe in England before being approached for the Dubai gig and relocating there in early 2013 to begin setting up the restaurant.
The restaurant launched in true UAE style with Paris Hilton and a Kardashian sister among the 1200 guests at the opening, an aspect of the local culture the notoriously modest chef says he's still getting used to.
With an international team including former MoMo chefs Troy Payne and Jessica Weeks alongside him in the kitchen, Malouf says Cle is Dubai's "first real taste of contemporary Middle Eastern cuisine". He predicts it will be a hit with the long-lunching expat banker crowd.
After such a long spell away from the pans, an invigorated Malouf is feeling upbeat about his latest challenge. "I've always wanted to cook in the Middle East, and here in Dubai you're right in the middle of it," he says. "Cooking here is both a thrill and a challenge but it's wonderful – I feel like I've really gone back to my heritage."
Cle Dubai, Al Fattan Currency House, Dubai International Financial Centre, Dubai, United Arab Emirates, cle-dubai.com.