DUBAI: Ali Fouad, the award-winning head chef of the favored Al Nafoorah Lebanese restaurant in Dubai’s Jumeirah Al Qasr, began serving to out within the meals trade on the age of 9 in his father’s bakery within the western Beqaa mountains. It was his father who impressed him to pursue a profession as a chef and Fouad has steadily labored his approach up the trade, spending 5 years as a chef in Lebanon earlier than transferring to Dubai to affix Al Nafoorah in 2006. Sixteen years in the identical job is uncommon within the UAE, however Fouad explains: “This model is one thing I imagine in. The identify is in my blood. He’s a buddy and household to me. Ten years in the past, I felt that in the future I might be capable to run this restaurant. On the time, I used to be second in command. And my dream got here true.”
Right here, Fouad provides some recommendation to novice cooks and a scrumptious soup recipe impressed by his grandmother’s cooking.
Q: What’s your greatest recommendation for novice cooks?
A: Three phrases. Prepare dinner with love. Doing this can make everybody joyful, whatever the kitchen.
Is there a single ingredient that may enhance any dish?
There are such a lot of wonderful elements, but when I had to decide on one, then for me it is olive oil. You need to use it for a lot of issues. It is wholesome and works with many dishes. It is a main ingredient for me.
How are you a chef? Are you strict?
I am very relaxed, however no one’s excellent, proper? I believe I am very supportive and my staff likes working with me — plenty of them are very loyal and have been with me since 2010 — so with them, not with new folks, I is perhaps somewhat strict as a result of they I do know precisely what I would like, so I do not prefer it after I make errors. However on the whole, as an example 80 p.c of the time I am not strict. However 20 p.c… (laughs).
What buyer habits or request frustrates you essentially the most?
Oh…. You’re feeling ache day by day. If not day by day, then each two days (laughs). I would not say it is irritating, essentially, however I’d get a visitor—not Lebanese, however different nationalities—who says, “That is not how we eat it.” OK I am a Lebanese prepare dinner, I used to be raised on this meals. I do know each element. I’d add a easy ingredient to raise the dish, however I by no means change the standard style. In fact, I am not going to inform this to the visitor, however typically it makes me indignant. However you’ll be able to by no means make everybody joyful.
What’s your go-to if you’re in a rush?
Lebanese like uncooked meat. You know the way you get tartar in Italian kitchens? We now have kibbeh. It is crushed wheat with floor beef and Lebanese spices—you add some herbs; basil and mint. It solely takes 5 minutes or so. Or I might make these very conventional dishes that my spouse likes – mujaddara and loubia. Mujaddara is a combination of lentils and rice and olive oil – you eat it with coleslaw. And loubia is inexperienced beans with tomato sauce, garlic, onion and olive oil. Each are very fast to make.
And what’s your favourite dish to prepare dinner?
It is one thing that jogs my memory of my grandmother. It is very conventional, and after I visited my grandmother, she at all times cooked for me. Every time I prepare dinner it, I at all times keep in mind her. I used to be so in love together with her. We name him Addas bel Hamed. It is type of a soup and never a soup on the identical time. We particularly eat it in winter in Lebanon. It’s lentils with rice or potatoes and selek (mug). My grandmother was a fantastic prepare dinner, imagine me. A terrific prepare dinner. He had a salad that I’ve now placed on the menu, I name it the Chef Ali Teta Salad. “Teta” means grandmother.
If you began your profession, what was the commonest mistake?
They’re sufficient. (Laughs.) Each from time to time, you will neglect to examine that the recipe is being adopted correctly. It’s so essential to style the dishes. You additionally have to hold checking the standard of the elements. It is rather essential to have top quality elements for Lebanese meals. So you need to keep in contact with the suppliers, on a regular basis.
What’s your favourite delicacies if you exit to eat?
Apart from Lebanese? I really like Asian meals, particularly Thai meals. I like Mexican meals. And Italian. In fact, after I need a burger and a shake, then it is American, however principally I’m going for Asian and Italian, if I am not consuming Lebanese.
And if you exit to eat, are you able to chill out and luxuriate in it, or do you end up criticizing the meals?
Once I exit, I’m going out to get pleasure from her as a visitor. I really like going to locations the place I am anticipated to really feel like I could possibly be in Italy – if it is Italian delicacies or in Asia – if it is Asian, the identical approach I attempt to make my visitors really feel like they’re . re in Lebanon. I am not good at giving feedback or suggestions. Even when I do not prefer it, I will nonetheless say thanks and respect that they did their greatest.
Addas Bel Hamed Soup from Chef Ali
200 g brown lentils
150 g pink onion
200 ml olive oil
750 ml of water
500 g contemporary potatoes
100 g of salt
30 g cumin powder
20 g black pepper
500 g smog leaves (aka selek)
20 g of garlic
30 g contemporary coriander
10 g mint leaves
1. Warmth the oil in a pot over excessive warmth. When the oil is sizzling, add the onions and stir till they brown and caramelize
2. Wash and cube the potatoes, add them to the pot with lentils and stir
3. Add the garlic, coriander and mint
4. Add salt, cumin and black pepper
5. Add water and boil for about 10 minutes
6. Add the smog leaves, cut back warmth to medium and prepare dinner till tender
7. Add a squeeze of lemon simply earlier than serving
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