World number one Serena Williams, a star draw at this week’s Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, and celebrity chef Silvena Rowe, a headline attraction at this weekend’s inaugural Dubai Food Carnival – the opening event of the 23-day Dubai Food Festival – joined forces yesterday for Dubai’s first-ever ‘Gastronomy Grand Slam’ at Nomad restaurant in Jumeirah Creekside Hotel.

Williams swapped the tennis court baseline for a frontline role at an al fresco BBQ as she linked up with Chef Rowe, the star of BBC cooking shows, Country Show Cook-Off and Saturday Kitchen, and Chef Eric Vasta, Executive Chef, Jumeirah Creekside Hotel, to whip up a ‘grilled green Shawarma marinated baby chicken with crunchy mint and pomegranate salad’ at the five-star property’s signature restaurant. The trio came together to test their gourmet game as the Emirate prepares to host the first Dubai Food Festival, a citywide celebration of fine fare and fun that kicks off this upcoming Friday, 21 February with the opening event, the Dubai Food Carnival.

While the BBQ grilling session did not prove as energy-sapping as any of Williams’ 17 Grand Slam title wins, the American star – who won a remarkable 11 events and recorded a career-best winning streak of 34 consecutive matches in 2013 – was impressed with the dedication and enthusiasm shown by her culinary companions.

“I’ve learnt that there are a lot of similarities between tennis and cooking in terms of organisation and preparation,” added Williams. “In both our businesses, so much goes on behind the scenes to make sure we’re at optimum level come show time. For me, it’s endless hours of practice to hone my game for competitive matches; for Silvena and Eric, it’s researching and selecting ingredients, trying different recipes, experimenting with flavours and techniques – we can’t afford to make mistakes when the heat is on.”

“I’ve always admired Serena because of the aggressive, powerful style of her tennis,” said Chef Rowe. “Serena has won everything in the game and is simply phenomenal – she never gives up and is a remarkable woman. I have great respect for her physical and mental strength; she has the same kind of imposing presence on court that I have in my restaurants – she’s my ultimate idol and I can’t wait to see her on court in Dubai.”

Celebrity Chef Silvena Rowe and Tennis Star Serena Williams

Celebrity Chef Silvena Rowe and Tennis Star Serena Williams

The Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships is owned and organised by Dubai Duty Free, and held under the patronage of HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

Tickets for Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships are on sale from the Box Office at the Dubai Tennis Stadium, Garhoud, which is open from 9am to 9pm daily. Grandstand ticket prices range from AED75 for opening rounds to AED500 for finals, with season tickets also available.