Recipes for success: Dubai-based Colombian chef Luisa Fernanda Caicedo takes a back-to-basics approach

Recipes for success: Dubai-based Colombian chef Luisa Fernanda Caicedo takes a back-to-basics approach
Caicedo offers some tips to those wanting to improve their cooking and provides a simple recipe for a tasty dish. (Supplied)
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Updated 28 November 2021

Recipes for success: Dubai-based Colombian chef Luisa Fernanda Caicedo takes a back-to-basics approach

Recipes for success: Dubai-based Colombian chef Luisa Fernanda Caicedo takes a back-to-basics approach
  • In the first of our new series where top chefs offer advice and a recipe, we talk to the executive chef of Dubai’s Mondoux restaurant

DUBAI: Colombian chef Luisa Fernanda Caicedo was on holiday in Nepal when the COVID-19 pandemic hit and travel restrictions were imposed. At first, she and her husband were told they would be able to return to New York (where Caicedo had spent more than a decade in the industry) within 15 days. Then they were told the same again. And again. Seven months later, they were still in the same Airbnb place, and Caicedo was pregnant. She wanted to give birth somewhere she felt more confident about the medical care available, but the doctors told her not to take a flight of more than eight hours. A short Google session later, she had settled on Dubai. After their daughter was born safely in November last year, Caicedo decided maybe it would be worth finding a job in the UAE. She is now the executive chef at Mondoux in Dubai Creek Harbour, which serves mainly European cuisine. “We want to showcase healthy food with good flavors,” she tells Arab News. “A back-to-basics approach.”

Here, Caicedo offers some tips to those wanting to improve their cooking and provides a simple recipe for a tasty dish. It’s one of her mother’s recipes, actually. “Even though I’ve tried to make it many times, hers always comes out better,” she says.




Luisa Fernanda Caicedo is a Colombian chef. (Supplied)

Q: When you started out as a professional, what was the most-common mistake you made when preparing/cooking a dish?

A: Thinking that I knew all the recipes by heart. I’d memorize them, but it takes years of practice; it’s like muscle-memory. I’d cook something and think “Why isn’t it coming out right?” Then I’d look at the recipe and see I’d forgotten an ingredient. I think young chefs are like that — they think they know everything.

Q: Is it seen as embarrassing for a professional to look at the recipe?

A: Well, when you’re the new kid and you see all these guys just measuring things without checking, I guess it is. But then you realize they’ve been doing it for years. And eventually I got there.

Q: What’s your top tip for amateur chefs?

A: Follow your heart. Or your gut. Keep it simple. Taste everything while you’re cooking.

Q: What one ingredient can instantly improve any dish?

A: I would say herbs. My favorites are thyme and rosemary. They give anything — vegetables, meat, rice — a little extra flavor. But it’s like perfume; you don’t want to use too much.




Sobrebarriga is often cooked on Sundays. (Supplied)

Q: When you go out to eat, do you find yourself critiquing the food? What’s the most-common issue that you have in other restaurants?

A: Actually, my husband’s the one who likes to give feedback other restaurant’s food. I try to separate my work from going out. If I’m in that professional (mode) I really don’t enjoy it. Of course, if I don’t like it, I’ll say something. But I try to separate it. Also, I don’t go to Italian restaurants, because I find the pasta can be too expensive and I can do it better at home.

Q: When you do go out, what’s your favorite cuisine?

A: I love Korean food. I love all South Asian food, but especially Korean. A nice barbeque, some kimchi… Either that or a nice steak.

Q: What’s your go-to dish if you have to put something together in, say, 20 minutes?

A: I’d usually go for something that I miss from home. Maybe rice, beans and a piece of meat. Or just a simple salad and grilled chicken. Nothing complicated.

Q: What request or behavior by customers most annoys you?

A: I understand that people might not like their meat raw, but when you get a beautiful — and expensive — rib-eye steak, say, and you order it well done? That annoys me. Or when they want to completely change a dish. Like, “I’ll have the burger, but instead of this and this can I have that and that?” I’ll do it. But I’m like, “You could have just gone to a (fast-food chain).”

Q: What’s your favorite dish to cook?

A: Well, I like to cook things that aren’t accessible (locally) and, like I said, that remind me of home. So I try to replicate my mom’s recipes. There’s a dish in Colombia called sobrebarriga. You’d often cook it on Sundays when the whole family is hanging out. It takes forever to cook. It’s a flank steak, usually. You have to cook it very slow — or you do a quick grill on it — otherwise it’ll be tough and chewy. So it’ll take, say, four hours in the oven with a lot of seasoning, onion, tomato, garlic, coriander. It’s just a little piece of home. A piece of mom.

Q: Are you quite tyrannical in the kitchen? Do you shout much? Or are you quite chilled-out?

A: I like to treat people the way I like to be treated. Personally, I don’t respond well to someone shouting at me. I’ll shut down. So I’m more about asking questions and trying to help people get better. If I see someone make a mistake, I’ll correct it. If they make the same mistake, I’ll ask them why; maybe I wasn’t clear enough the first time. Of course, if you keep making the mistake, I’ll get upset. I’ll curse a little bit. But I don’t yell, I use my ‘spa voice’ — like, the loud whisper you’d use in the spa or in the doctor’s waiting room when you’re trying not to disturb people.

Chef Luisa’s arroz con pollo (Chicken rice)




Caicedo shared with Arab News her chicken rice recipe. (Shutterstock)

INGREDIENTS (serves 4):

For the chicken and stock

2 whole chicken breasts, bone-in and skin removed; 1 scallion; ½ white onion; 2 garlic cloves; 1 sprig of rosemary; 1 sprig of thyme; ½ tbsp Sazón Goya with saffron (substitute with turmeric if not available); Salt and pepper to taste

For the rice

2 tbsp olive oil; ¼ cup finely diced onions; 1 garlic clove, minced; ¼ cup red bell pepper and ¼ cup green bell pepper, diced into small cubes; 1 cup long-grain white rice; 2 ½ cups chicken stock (prepared when cooking chicken breasts); ½ tbsp Sazón Goya with saffron (azafran); ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro; ½ cup peas; ½ cup diced carrots; ½ cup diced green beans

INSTRUCTIONS:

1. Place chicken breast, 5 cups of water and remaining stock ingredients in medium pot. Bring to boil, cover and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook for 20-25 mins. Turn heat off and let chicken rest in covered pot for c.15 mins. Once cooled, cut into small cubes and set aside. Strain stock. Measure 2 ½ cups and set aside.

2. In medium pot, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onions, peppers and garlic. Cook for 4- 5 mins until onions are translucent.

3. Add rice and Sazón Goya (or turmeric). Stir for c.3 minutes, until rice is well coated. Add chicken stock and bring to a boil. Taste broth and adjust seasoning as needed. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for c.15 minutes. Add peas, carrots and green beans and cook for an additional 7 mins. Add shredded chicken and cilantro. Mix well, cover and cook for another 5 mins. Then serve and enjoy!


Nora Attal stars in summer campaign for Weekend Max Mara

Nora Attal stars in summer campaign for Weekend Max Mara
The 21-year-old stars in the Weekend Max Mara Spring 2022 campaign. Instagram
Updated 23 January 2022

Nora Attal stars in summer campaign for Weekend Max Mara

Nora Attal stars in summer campaign for Weekend Max Mara

DUBAI: British-Moroccan model Nora Attal is starring in a new campaign for Weekend Max Mara, the sister brand of Max Mara’s mainline collections.

Lensed by Eddie Wrey, Attal features in a video and campaign images set along a rocky stretch of coast in Capo Malfatano, Italy.

The 21-year-old catwalk star features in the stunning video advertorial wearing key pieces from the label’s Spring 2022 collection.

She can be seen wearing a beige knit sweater with yarn tassels worn with matching cream-colored trousers paired with loafers and the brand’s Pasticcino bag.

In the 15-second-long clip, Attal can also be seen wearing a belted trench coat, a flowy shirt dress cinched at the waist with a belt and a matching pinstriped trousers and jacket combination.

According to the brand, the Spring 2022 advertising campaign “portrays the protagonist in the summer wardrobe you have always wished for.”

The collection boasts a wide range of summer-ready styles from reinvented classics and summer-ready essentials to cashmere sweaters emblazoned with butterflies and cotton trousers. Tweed miniskirts, leather pouches and linen blouses are among the other items that jostle for attention in the label’s new collection.

The model has been keeping quite busy. She recently appeared in the holiday campaign for German label Boss, alongside Australian actor Chris Hemsworth.

Attal has forged a position as one of the most in-demand models in the world at the moment — Models.com currently ranks her as one of the top 50 models worldwide.

Based in London and singed to Viva Model Management, Attal has walked for renowned fashion houses such as Prada, Fendi, Dior, Chanel and Versace, to name a few, in addition to appearing in the pages of publications such as Vogue magazine.

Born to Moroccan parents in the UK, the model was first discovered by Jonathan Anderson, founder of the J.W. Anderson label, and shot a campaign for the British fashion house in 2014, before making her runway debut three years later.

Attal is among the growing list of Arab models breaking ground in the industry, including Italian-Moroccan Malika El-Maslouhi, part-Palestinian sisters Gigi and Bella Hadid, Moroccan-Egyptian Imaan Hammam and French-Algerian Loli Bahia, to name a few.

 


Meet the Saudi architect designing the metaverse

Digital artist and architect Sattom Alasad expresses and explores her Saudi heritage through her work. (AN Photo)
Digital artist and architect Sattom Alasad expresses and explores her Saudi heritage through her work. (AN Photo)
Updated 22 January 2022

Meet the Saudi architect designing the metaverse

Digital artist and architect Sattom Alasad expresses and explores her Saudi heritage through her work. (AN Photo)
  • Sattom Alasad wanted to use online spaces dominating people's lives to provide a tranquil, otherworldly escape
  • These digital spaces are also a way for Alasad to express and explore her Saudi heritage

LOS ANGELES: Saudi architect Sattom Alasad has expanded from designing physical buildings to virtual ones.

Collectively known as a metaverse, digital spaces like Alasad’s allow users online to immersively interact with the environment and each other, and the technology world is looking at them as the next big thing.

“A lot of big companies are investing millions of dollars to own digital land so it’s only natural that the digital real estate is also going to go up in value and is going to be in demand,” digital artist and architect Alasad said. “So as an architect, I am trying to actively participate in developing and designing that digital world for us.”

Metaverse development has been pushed forward due in part to the increased number of people working and interacting remotely during the pandemic.

Alasad wanted to use the online spaces dominating people's lives to provide a tranquil, otherworldly escape.

“A lot of what was going on in the world around us was weighing down on us, so I wanted to take that as an opportunity to start developing my dream world,” she told Arab News.

“I’m currently working on translating my designs to be sold as NFTs where the owner can choose to host the spaces in the metaverse or the digital world where they can be experienced fully and immersively through virtual reality.” 

These digital spaces are also a way for Alasad to express and explore her Saudi heritage, incorporating familiar design elements from her home.

Of all her projects, the one closest to her heart was a collaboration with the charitable collective of MENA region creators, Ya Habibi Market.

“Creating and sharing art is an incredible way to meet and connect with other creatives who live in LA whether they’re from Saudi or other parts of the Arab world.

“So in some ways I found it I would say more empowering to try to connect and understand my culture while being away from it.”


US social media star Brittany Xavier shows off Arab accessories label 

US social media star Brittany Xavier shows off Arab accessories label 
Updated 22 January 2022

US social media star Brittany Xavier shows off Arab accessories label 

US social media star Brittany Xavier shows off Arab accessories label 

DUBAI: US YouTuber Brittany Xavier has been spotted wearing a pair of sunglasses from Lebanese influencer Karen Wazen’s eponymous accessories line By Karen Wazen.

The social media star, who has over 1.7 million Instagram followers and more than 4.6 million TikTok supporters, opted for the Ellis shades, a pair of rectangular-frame sunglasses in black. 

The 34-year-old blogger, famous for her fashion, beauty and digital marketing-related blogs, wore a full leather suit, which she paired with a hot purple bag by Spanish luxury fashion house Loewe, as she strolled down the streets of Los Angeles.  

On her YouTube channel, which has around 443,000 subscribers, the full-time content creator documents her life with her husband, Anthony Xavier, and her two daughters, Jadyn and Poppy Xavier. 

She started her career in 2013. “I started my blog as a hobby in hopes of turning this into my full-time career,” she said in one of her YouTube videos. 

The mother recently welcomed her second child, Poppy, whom she gave birth to 14 years after her first girl. 

Meanwhile, Dubai-based entrepreneur and influencer Wazen launched her debut collection of eyewear in December 2018. The first line came in acetate and stainless steel and in an array of colors, from neon to tortoiseshell.

Less than a year after the official launch of her brand, her designs were picked up by major e-tailer Farfetch, which became the first online platform to offer her eyewear collection.

Now with a large collection of stylish shades, the label has gained the nod of approval from international celebrities including British-Albanian singer Dua Lipa, reality television star Kourtney Kardashian, French model Cindy Bruna, and American singer Becky G, along with a number of regional influencers and trendsetters such as Lebanese blogger Nathalie Fanj, Lebanese-Canadian actress Cynthia Samuel, and Iraqi influencer Deema Al-Asadi.

Among her loyal customers is US music sensation Demi Lovato, who championed the designer’s pieces multiple times. 

The two-time Grammy nominee owns Wazen’s Glamorous shades, a pair of cat-eye-shaped sunglasses in green lenses and a clear frame, and a pair of Kennys, which are rectangular-shaped with brown lenses and a transparent frame.


‘I’d Do Anything for Love’ singer Meat Loaf dead at 74

‘I’d Do Anything for Love’ singer Meat Loaf dead at 74
Updated 21 January 2022

‘I’d Do Anything for Love’ singer Meat Loaf dead at 74

‘I’d Do Anything for Love’ singer Meat Loaf dead at 74
  • The beefy Texas-born singer distinguished himself in the late 1970s with his soaring vocal range and lavish stage productions
  • After a career rut, Meat Loaf enjoyed a revival with his biggest success in 1993: the single "I'd Do Anything for Love (But I Won't Do That)"

WASHINGTON: US singer Meat Loaf, famous for his “Bat Out of Hell” rock anthem, has died aged 74, after a career in which he sold more than 100 million albums and appeared in scores of movies.
“Our hearts are broken to announce that the incomparable Meat Loaf passed away tonight with his wife Deborah by his side,” read a statement on his Facebook page early on Friday.
“Daughters Pearl and Amanda and close friends have been with him throughout the last 24 hours.” No cause of death was given.
The beefy Texas-born singer distinguished himself in the late 1970s with his soaring vocal range and lavish stage productions.
His 1977 “Bat out of Hell” album, which reportedly sold some 43 million copies, is one of the highest-selling ever.
After a career rut, Meat Loaf enjoyed a revival with his biggest success in 1993: the single “I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That)” topped the charts in 28 countries and won him a Grammy Award.
“We know how much he meant to so many of you and we truly appreciate all of the love and support as we move through this time of grief in losing such an inspiring artist and beautiful man,” it said.
“From his heart to your souls... don’t ever stop rocking!“
Tributes poured in, including from former US president Donald Trump, and stars such as Cher, who tweeting she was “Very Sorry For His Family, Friends, & Fans.”
“R.I.P Meatloaf. Love and prayers to all his family and close friends,” tweeted singer Boy George.
Adam Lambert, the lead singer for Queen since 2011, described Meat Loaf as “a gentle hearted powerhouse rockstar forever and ever.”
“You were so kind. Your music will always be iconic,” Lambert said on Twitter.
Born Marvin Lee Aday on September 27, 1947, Meat Loaf’s early years in Texas were rough.
“I’ve forgiven my father for trying to kill me with a butcher’s knife,” he once told The Telegraph.
But the bullying at school over his weight — the nickname Meat Loaf came early — was followed by the devastating loss of his mother to cancer while he was still a teenager.
Not long after, he was on his way to New York, looking for ways to channel the angst and histrionics into performance.
There, he teamed up with musician and playwright Jim Steinman, who provided the wild, theatrical backing music to accompany Meat Loaf’s bellowing voice.
Meat Loaf’s other hit singles include “Paradise by the Dashboard Light” (1977) and “I’m Gonna Love Her for Both of Us” (1981).
Meat Loaf had started off seeking acting work — winning parts in “Hair” and the original cast of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” and its film adaptation.
Throughout his career, he also had several small parts in TV shows and films, including “Wayne’s World” (1992).
His role in the 1999 cult classic “Fight Club” highlighted his acting prowess in one of the decade’s most critically acclaimed films.
In 2016, he released a new album — his first since 2011 — and returned to a busy schedule after a two-year gap in touring, a string of health scares and speculation he would retire.
The singer had collapsed onstage at least three times since 2003, including once in Canada in 2016 after suffering from dehydration while singing “I’d Do Anything For Love.”
He was one of the few major US musicians outside of the country genre to support the Republican Party actively.
In the lead-up to the 2012 election that Barack Obama ended up winning, Meat Loaf campaigned for his challenger Mitt Romney.
Meat Loaf also became friends with Donald Trump after appearing on the latter’s reality television show “The Celebrity Apprentice.”
Trump described the singer as “smart, talented, open, and warm” in a statement Friday.


Syrian arts, culture festival opens in London

Syrian arts, culture festival opens in London
Updated 21 January 2022

Syrian arts, culture festival opens in London

Syrian arts, culture festival opens in London

DUBAI: The Syrian Arts and Culture Festival, a new multidisciplinary event showcasing the country’s creative talents, has opened in London.

The inaugural event, running until Feb. 4, brings together established and emerging artists, filmmakers, performers, and musicians to offer audiences alternative narratives and perspectives on Syria, its people, and its culture.

The SACF is a project by Zamakan, a non-profit platform that aims to create opportunities for artists, cultural workers, and creatives from West Asia and North Africa, and Marsm, a London-based events company.

Upcoming events feature a performance by Syrian musician Ibrahim Keivo. (Syrian Arts and Culture Festival)

SACF is a transliteration of the Arabic word saqf, meaning roof or ceiling, a word which is also used to represent the limit of something. According to the website, the festival, “aspires to be a creative platform where limits can be pushed and boundaries are broken.”

For the opening night, the festival presented two solo performances by the acclaimed Syrian classical guitarist Ayman Jarjour and and Palestinian ney (a type of flute) virtuoso Faris Ishaq.

Upcoming events feature screenings of Syrian filmmaker Omar Amiralay’s movies, a traditional food workshop, and a performance by Syrian musician Ibrahim Keivo.