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Jamaican chef cops industry award in Dubai

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DUBAI- With a thriving luxury hospitality industry, the highly competitive restaurant scene in Dubai is both an attraction and a challenge to the toptiered chefs operating in the region. On Tuesday, industry leaders gathered to recognize their top-performing peers for the ProChef Awards 2014. The awardees originate from all over the world and among them was Jamaican head chef, Lij Heron.

The Jamaican received the award for “Best Meat Chef,” a coveted moniker among steakhouse chefs in the region. He is currently a finalist in another award, the BBC GoodFood Middle East Award in the categories of “Chef of the Year” and “Best Steakhouse” for Lexington Grill.

Born and bred in Kingston, Chef Lij is the Chef de Cuisine of the fancy fine-dining New York styled steakhouse, Lexington Grill at the first Waldorf Astoria, Ras Al Khaimah. The restaurant boasts the first in-house dry ageing facility, which takes premium grade Angus and Wagyu beef to even higher planes in flavour and texture.

Lexington Grill has earned the regard of royalty, executives and visiting statesmen, boasting what has often been reviewed as the best steak in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). In addition to the Lexington Grill, his responsibilities include the legendary Peacock Alley and the Camelia Lounge. He was the opening chef for these outlets at the Waldorf Astoria, Ras Al Khaimah, which opened its door just over a year ago.

He previously headed the flagship fine-dining restaurant, Al Muntaha on the 27th floor in Dubai’s most iconic Five-Star Deluxe hotel, Burj Al Arab and the award-winning Rib Room at Jumeriah Emirates Towers.

Chef Lij earned his two-year culinary arts degree at the Culinary Institute of America, New York, over 12 years ago after starting his career at the Hilton Kingston. After completing culinary school, he worked briefly as a butcher in a seafood restaurant in Sarasota, Florida. Since then has risen through the ranks and headed 5-star hotel kitchens for several years.

His culinary training background is extensive, covering a range of cuisines. His practice includes Middle Eastern, America, Asian and Caribbean experience in Fine Dining, Luxury 5 Star, 5 Diamond, Hotel and Stand Alone operations. He is an expert in Kitchen Management, Staff Development, Training and Menu Concept Development. Chef Lij is highly competent and skilled in Contemporary European, American, Steakhouse, Seafood, Mediterranean and Caribbean menu concepts.

Chef Lij is a proud graduate of Excelsior Primary School and the Wolmer’s Trust High School for Boys. He is the co-author of the award-winning food blog, www.chefandsteward.com, named “Best Overseas Jamaican Blog” in the Jamaica Blog Awards 2012.

To vote for Chef Lij for the BBC GoodFood Awards, visit http://www.bbcgoodfoodme.com/awards/2014

Nala James
+971 56 350 3650

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