Rainer Becker is waving his arms about while kneeling on the floor of Zuma Dubai, one of the international outposts of his successful Japanese restaurant. The German chef is demonstrating what it’s like for a chef to cook at a robata grill.
“In Japan, chefs kneel in front of this little grill and they have all the produce in front of them,” he says excitedly. “Guests sit and point at the food and it is cooked and served. You see the energy and talk to the chefs. Amazing! I fell in love with the concept when I first saw it.”
Has he tried a stint behind the robata?
“Ha! I tried it once and lasted 15 minutes – it was agony. So I found a guy in London called Tony to make me a customised huge robata. The first night we opened Roka in Charlotte Street [in London] The first night at Roka it exploded! The whole thing went up in the air half a metre. Nobody was hurt. The granite around the grill cracked, but we kept the crack – ha!”