Love a restaurant so much that you’d be willing to rave about it on-camera?


An idea-weed has been sprouting about in my unkempt brain for a while now. Remember the last time I pulled out a weed for all to see? This is how that looked:


2 weeks later, the lone weed became a jungle. I started working on what is now Frying Pan Adventures, Dubai’s first food tourism company. Only time will tell whether this was a bright idea or not, but I will tell you that I get a lot of strange and questioning stares from management consultants and bankers who can’t fathom why I’d drop a lucrative salary to become a tour guide.

Close to 18 months now, having toured about 600 foodies, dragging my incredible sister and partner-in-crime @faridaA into the food pit, and without either of us taking a penny of a salary out of the start-up company, I don’t have the answer either.

What I do have is the constant, nagging drip of a restless feeling. What next? What now? God may have considering putting in ONE peaceful self-contented bone in my body, but then He promptly yanked it out at the last minute, leaving me with a lifetime of insomniac nights where I twist and turn over with that uneasy feeling. It’s a self-inflicted form of Chinese water-torture, over and over again: I need to be doing more. Drip. What more can I be doing? Drip. More and more and more. DRIP!

So here’s the next idea to add to the existing food tours (which I would still continue doing of course). The idea might involve anyone from the UAE food community that wants to jump into the food pit with me, just like this:

  • Everyone has at least one specific food at one specific restaurant that they are die-hard fans of. I don’t mean that you just like the dish, or that you’d merely recommend it to someone else. I mean that you’re willing to FIGHT for the dish. You and the dish are inseparable – and no place but that restaurant can make it just right. It tugs on your tummy strings like no other dish at no other restaurant can in the entire UAE. Say the shawarma at Al Mallah, or the butter chicken at Sind Punjab, or the Sukka at Canara, or the meatballs at Bentoya. You’ve eaten your chosen dish not once, not twice, but a hill-high number of times. And if you could scramble up to the top of that hill of edible experiences and do a Sound-of-Music like routine about why the world must, THEY MUST, try this dish or else their lives would never really come alive with the sound of foodgasmic ecstasy, hell you would.
  • I ask YOU for what that dish is (using a form or an email address or whatever – let’s leave the boring logistics out of this brainwave for now). It’s got to be one at a place I’ve never tried, under 50 AED per head, and at a place that’s not obvious to the general UAE populace. This means that Ravi’s or Bu’Qtair – no matter how life-changing – stays at the foot of the foodgasmic hill.
  • We (the humble me and I) select a dish a week for a weekly YouTube mini-episode where You, the Grand Slam Master of Eating The Sound-of-Foodgasm Dish will join me on web-air. You would reveal the dish to the universe and why it’s so awesome, how to order it (with any special requests that you throw in), how to find the restaurant, all that insider intel that someone would need to get the perfect order of this perfect dish. Together, we would do amazing things like spread foodie love and support hidden gems and create world peace and other such very, very amazing things.
  • Every week, we would showcase one dish at one hidden restaurant, anywhere in the UAE. I get asked for food recommendations all the time in Emirates other than Dubai, and honestly I haven’t a clue. So if you can call me to Umm Al Quwain for something crazy good, I’m game.
  • Why would You and I do it? For the love of good food. For the love of random connections over good food. For the love of weeping happy sentimental tears over random connections over good food. For the love of shutting up that restless elf inside my head and trying to get some sleep dammit.
  • We will try to raise sponsorship eventually so we can support the cost of the production and editing. Till then, I’ll just have to burn a deeper hole in my threadbare pocket.

I’m still not sure about this, it’s just a half-baked idea. So here’s the big question:

Go, or No Go?

Author: InaFryingPan

With a family legacy of ingenious cooks, a nutritionist and chef-extraordinaire mother, and a father who introduced me to steak and caviar when I could barely reach the table, I had no choice but to acquire a keen awareness of food during my childhood years in Dubai. But it was only after I found myself on a college campus in Philadelphia – far away from home, too cheap as a student to spend on anything other than pizza, and with dorm rooms that had little rat-holes of kitchens if they even had them at all – when I developed a heightened appreciation of food. An appreciation of food that I once ate every night at the dinner table in Dubai, but that was now an entire ocean away. I lusted for the culinary treasures that lay outside the stale walls of my college dining hall, hijacked friends’ kitchens to try my hand at something, anything , remotely edible, and greedily raided different websites in search of highly-rated restaurants. With my move to New York to work for a consulting firm that secretly harbored self-professed foodies, my appreciation transformed into a passion, an addicition. I felt like everyone around me in New York was talking about food: where to get the best cupcakes, pizza slices, banh mi, kati rolls, pho, fried chicken, and every other food item out there that is just a plain old dish in some part of the world, but that’s become hyped to unforeseen proportions in New York. What fuelled my addiction over time was travel to different cities, both for work and play, which gave me unfettered access to the culinary havens of not only New York, but also of DC, Virginia, Chicago, Houston, Vegas, Austin, Seattle and even a little city called Bentonville (Arkansas!). After 9 years away from home, I’ve finally taken the leap to come back to Dubai – with not just an awareness, but genuine appreciation and passionate addiction for what I’d taken for granted as a child. Mom, I’m back to reclaim my seat at your dinner table, and to rediscover this city with its ever-expanding menu of international flavors.

13 thoughts on “Love a restaurant so much that you’d be willing to rave about it on-camera?

  1. Reem Baggash says:

    I say go for it its a new angle and being in Dubai and loving so many different foods at different restaurants i SAY GOOO it will be amazing #reeminthekitchen

    1. Arva says:

      Thanks for the vote Reem, super nice of you to leave such a positive comment!

    1. Arva says:

      Thanks Minna, really value your thoughts!

    1. Arva says:

      Merci beaucoup Mita, your feedback means a lot!

  2. Carmen says:

    Love it. I bet you’ll have tons of Food Deputies before too long!


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