On my last trip to Dubai, I attended The World Expo in Dubai 2020. After a year’s delay due to the COVID pandemic, The World Expo in Dubai opened in October 2021. One of the experiences that the expo showcases was a world of food where taste has no borders, how everything from climate change to technology will change the way we source and prepare cooked food. The Rising Flavors Food Hall during the expo 2020 was created to show the guests to experience the region’s culinary talent. Brix Desserts was in the food hall. Pastry Chef Carmen Rueda with her extensive culinary expertise is the culinary mastermind of the concept. Located in the Jumeirah fish harbor, this ten-person dessert bar had to adapt its way from serving ten guests to serving thousands. Brix offers desserts that are not quite traditional for a huge range of cosmopolitan visitors that are open to new ideas. The menu is composed of her signature creations. Her decadent desserts made with quality ingredients elevate her sweet dishes to the next level. Brix has been a total success in Dubai opening different outlets throughout the city.
Rueda was born in 1983 in a small town near Salamanca, Spain. At the age of 18, she decided to study culinary arts at the Higher School of Hospitality and Tourism in Madrid, and later did a stage with Oriol Balaguer in Barcelona, becoming his workshop manager in Madrid. Other figures which stand out in her long career are Olivier Bajard, Heston Blumenthal, Mateu Casañas during his stay at elBulli, and Jannice Wong. The chef, who participated in two Spanish qualifiers for the World Chocolate Masters (2014 and 2017), has been working at Brix since 2021.
How does your upbringing relate to your career now?
I have loved cooking since I was a child and liked to work with chocolate. I have always liked to see the shapes you could get with this incredible product. I’m the only one who decided to be a pastry chef in my family since I have always really loved baking and cooking. We grew up in a small village and we always had the best produce to choose from. I was very restless growing up, always on the move like an earthquake! I was always very active and very friendly. Growing up I loved spending time in the mountains, playing with my friends, and listening to music. I play the piano and flute, and was always interested in the arts. It wasn’t a conscious way of being, it was just how I grew up.
Describe your experience as a two time competitor of the World chocolate masters Spain?
Its complicated to describe. The first time I did it, I thought it would be easier or simpler. I wasn’t very aware of what I was doing, I didn’t know the magnitude of such a competition where you have to do everything perfectly for nine hours. You have the judges’ eyes on you, the stress level is very high. The preparation and organization has to be perfect. The second time I was more aware of where I was going and the magnitude of the task, so each time was different. The first time was magical because I really didn’t know the amount of precession that I needed, there were less tasks during the competition so everything had to be perfect.
“Our restaurant is located in a traditional Emirati neighborhood. We serve everyone, we have almost 50% who are Emirati and those 50% are open to try new things, they let me express myself the way I want”
How did Covid influence your professional life?
When COVID hit, I had just landed in Dubai. I had a job lined up in a hotel so I had to leave because there was no more work and I left to open the Nobu hotels in Warsaw. I wanted to stay but we had to close the hotels due to sanitary measures, and the hotel chain took me to Riad in Saudi Arabia for five months. It was good, during that time I started to chat with my current employer to come to Dubai and open the dessert restaurant.
Why the name Brix and why did you choose the location of the restaurant.
The name is basically the unit used in pastry for counting the level of sugar in a dessert or ingredients. The location is very important because we are located in the fishing harbor, it is a quaint place which is like Dubai 50 years ago. It’s in front of the ocean, fishermen come and go, not a tourist place at all.
“I don’t like to use a lot of sugar or cream. I want my pastry to have an interesting flavor and texture”
Emirati people are very particular in their traditions. How do you cater to this?
Our restaurant is located in a traditional Emirati neighborhood. We serve everyone, we have almost 50% who are Emirati and those 50% are open to trying new things, they let me express myself the way I want.
Brix’s journey as a dessert restaurant starts with two menus, each consisting of five different desserts and each with a cocktail tasting. We have a production kitchen where we make all the different desserts for all our locations. I like to work with the best product and the best techniques, I don’t like to use a lot of sugar or cream. I want my pastry to have an interesting flavor and texture.
What were your major challenges when you moved to Dubai?
I have 14 people working under me. I don’t hire women or men, I hire chefs. I hire people who want to learn, who are open to change, and willing to work. We want our clients to experience and explain that our desserts are not what you can eat all the time. I have to explain to people that a dessert restaurant is not only sugar or cream. We want them to eat desserts and change their view about heavy desserts. There are plated desserts, shop window cakes, sweets to go, and more It’s not only based on one kind of pastry. I use my knowledge to create a sweet journey for everyone.
“I hire people who want to learn, who are open to change, and willing to work”
Are you happy with your job?
Very happy! I finally found a place where I can express myself through my creations. When I create a pastry, the first thing that comes to my mind is emotion. That is what I want my customers to experience and that is how I come up with my creations. Because I like to emphasize the flavors of what I am eating, I don’t like to disturb the flavor The dish’s flavor has to taste like the main ingredient of the dish.
As a European pastry chef how different is the work or how do you compare the pastry scene in Dubai to the rest of the places you have worked?
I’ve had good chefs and bad chefs in every place I have worked. In Dubai, you will find people that want to work, there are a lot of opportunities here and you can find people that want to learn and work. There are all kinds of options, better, bigger chefs. Every city has had a culinary revolution, and Dubai is going through a culinary revolution now.
“I don’t like to bother the flavor, the flavor has to taste like the main ingredient of the dish”