Balancing Act

Chef Troy Payne of Sanderson's Café in Abu Dhabi uses made-from-scratch, natural and locally sourced ingredients in his wholesome dishes
Chef Troy Payne
ITP Images
Chef Troy Payne
November 10, 2019

Most foodies will probably recall Troy Payne’s name – the Australian chef has built a strong reputation in Dubai at cafés such as Tom & Serg and The Sum Of Us. Now he’s part of the team behind Abu Dhabi’s latest hotspot – Sanderson’s Café at The Walk at Al Seef Resort & Spa by Andalus, where he’s whipping up nutritious, sustainable and balanced food that not only tastes superb but looks gorgeous, too.

Highlights on his menu include ‘toasts’ (think charcoal buns topped with lobster, pea and poached eggs); bowls (housing everything from chia puddings to poke combinations); a selection of wraps; plates that are more hefty, brimming with the likes of homemade beetroot tagliatelle and cheeky treats. The latter are all made with natural sugars – try the Pavlova packed with passionfruit, mango and macerated berries – it will make you fall in love with this somewhat overdone dessert all over again.

Besides Troy’s honest approach to his cooking, what resonates with me is that he focuses on sourcing ingredients from local suppliers, wherever possible. “As cooks in this country we need to be more supportive of local farmers” he says. He’s interested in representing food from the region in an innovative way. “Food is my life. I’m fascinated by it and I look into everything about each ingredient from my surroundings – it’s all about finding things that are meant to be in each dish.”

Whether it’s a detox drink, rainbow lattes (I recommend ordering the matcha date option), nut butters or milks – everything is homemade at Sanderson’s. Nothing goes to waste either – for example, the beetroot purée that is leftover from making beetroot juice is then dehydrated and used to create new dishes, too. Troy is not about promoting overly healthy food but he is “trying to stick to his guns”.