Start-up of the Week: Saudi chef’s fusion cuisine aims to satisfy all cultures

The main encouragement to start his business came from his family, friends and followers on social media. (Supplied)
Updated 19 September 2018
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Start-up of the Week: Saudi chef’s fusion cuisine aims to satisfy all cultures

RIYADH: Mansour Ismail, owner and head chef at Chef Culture, said what makes his establishment unique is that people feel as if they are eating at home.
Chef Culture, in the north of the eastern province of Alkhobar, specializes in traditional Gulf and international fusion cuisine. It was launched on May 25 and provides catering and takeaway services.
“I started my restaurant because I believe I have a unique touch which is going to spread across the world,” Mansour told Arab News.
The main encouragement to start his business came from his family, friends and followers on social media, he added. Chef Culture’s signature dish is tandoori lamb, a reflection of the fusion of Gulf and Indian cuisine. “What makes this dish unique is the balance between the two cultures in terms of spices and flavor. This has always been the best-selling dish on our menu,” said Mansour.
Another example of mixed flavors is the Japanese dish shrimp tempura, which is made with Halabi pistachio. Mansour added that a popular order with their catering services has always been the cherry kebab, in which Gulf and Armenian flavors are blended together. What gives this dish its distinctive flavor is that its cherry sauce is made from fresh produce.
“Our main concentration in Chef Culture is in mixing different influences of food from around the world,” said Mansour. He added that all the dishes were created from scratch and took him through trial phases of tasting the food before he was satisfied with the end result of his creations.
The goal at Chef Culture is to showcase Gulf cuisine with an inter-national twist by providing a blend of flavors and a taste that suits the palates of different cultures.
Mansour’s message to aspiring chefs is that the food industry is growing at a rapid pace and that there are big opportunities for talented people to thrive in the culinary world.
He started cooking 12 years ago as an amateur, then decided to develop his hobby by attending cooking courses in India. The chef also attended local and international live cooking shows. This gave Mansour the idea to mix Gulf cuisine with others from around the world, particularly from India, to create his fusion food menu.


Chef couple wins many hearts by giving international dishes a Saudi twist

Budoor Al-Solami, left, and Waleed Moathen have recreated many dishes and desserts such as muffins with dates and tahini. (Photos/Supplied)
Updated 17 November 2018
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Chef couple wins many hearts by giving international dishes a Saudi twist

  • The chef duo started their YouTube channel ‘Saa’widha’ just five months ago

JEDDAH: Budoor Al-Solami, 26, and Waleed Moathen, 28, started their YouTube channel “Saa’widha” (to turn it Saudi) under the cooking channel Atyab Tabkha just five months ago.
Atyab Tabkha is sponsored by digital media company Diwanee. All the chef couple’s episodes have been made at Atyab Tabkha’s studio in Dubai.
The couple takes any international dish and give it a Saudi spin. Their creativity and ideas are fun and broad. The couple have recreated many dishes and desserts such as muffins with dates and tahini.
“Usually, it is the international kitchen that receives all the fame and spotlight, and rarely does the Arab or Saudi kitchen have a media presence,” Al-Solami told Arab News. “Which is why we decided to invent something new, merging international kitchens in a Saudi way. Especially because the Saudi kitchen is characterized by its various flavors and high taste,” she added.
To recreate these international dishes with Saudi flavors, the couple use Saudi spices and agricultural products “produced by our country such as dates, local meat and the unique Taif flowers,” said Moathen.
Al-Solami works at a five-star hotel and Moathen is an executive chef at a restaurant. Leading such busy lives, the couple still manage to find a balance between their jobs and their channel.
“The nature of our job requires us to work for long hours, sometimes 12 hours in a day. For this reason we decided, with the agreement of the company, that we film our episodes during our vacation days.”
The channel came to fruition when Diwanee was looking for Saudi chefs.
“They contacted me. They wanted to create a regular cooking show just like any other cooking show, then Waleed and I thought of how we can change the idea of traditional cooking and shows, and we wanted to put the Saudi kitchen in our show. This is how ‘Saa’widha’ was created,” according to Al-Solami.
“And this was how we came up with many ideas such as the Saudi sushi, and Waleed came up with vegan ice cream with Saudi ingredients such as almond coffee. We even made focaccia bread and muffins with a Saudi twist,” she explained.

Working is fun
Working together is fun and full of surprises, said Moathen. “When we cook, we really enjoy it and we share new ideas with each other.”
“Saa’widha,” of course, is displayed in Arabic, but the couple are planning to add subtitles in different languages in their next season. “Especially because we have friends of different nationalities,” explained Moathen.
Their show was warmly received by the Saudi audience, and the two are showered with positive comments under each episode.

 

 “I am very happy to see the interaction of people in the comments, and their kind words and positive support,” said Al-Solami
“I am overjoyed and this encourages me to continue what I love and what the viewers love,” said Moathen.
Al-Solami and Moathen studied tourism and hospitality respectively and wish to open a restaurant chain and culinary school.

Decoder

Almond Coffee

A hot Hejazi beverage traditionally made with milk, ground almonds, rice flour, sugar and cinnamon, and is popular during winter season.