Mexican head chef at Dubai’s Rumba Cuban eatery shares his recipes for success

Mexican head chef at Dubai’s Rumba Cuban eatery shares his recipes for success
Rene Manzanilla is head chef at Dubai’s Rumba Cuban Bar & Kitchen. (Supplied)
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Updated 18 June 2022

Mexican head chef at Dubai’s Rumba Cuban eatery shares his recipes for success

Mexican head chef at Dubai’s Rumba Cuban eatery shares his recipes for success
  • The Mexican head chef at Dubai’s Rumba Cuban Bar & Kitchen offers some advice and a delicious recipe

DUBAI: As Rene Manzanilla tells it, cooking has been a lifelong passion. The story of his initial inspiration is a conventional one: A love inspired by his mother and grandmother. The story of his ‘Eureka’ moment — the one that shifted him away from becoming a lawyer like so many of his family before him — is slightly more unusual.

“I went to a careers fair in my town in Mexico and I saw a guy doing fruit carving. One of my big passions when I was a kid was origami, so when I saw this guy I thought, ‘I want to do that.’ So I got all the information, then went back and told my mom, ‘I want to be a chef,’” he explains. “So far, I still haven’t learned how to carve fruit, but… I’m here.”

“Here” is head chef at Dubai’s Rumba Cuban Bar & Kitchen, which serves Latin American cuisine influenced by Mexican, Cuban and Peruvian fare.




Rumba Cuban Bar & Kitchen, Ropa Vieja. (Supplied)

“The thing I love most about the job is the chemistry you can build in a kitchen,” he says. “Obviously, I love to cook, but I love being around everyone. Over the years, I’ve come to understand that, as a head chef, the only thing the people working with you need from you is leadership. I like to be cooking with them. If you lead by example, they’ll respond well. The environment of a kitchen is always hot, it’s always noisy. I want them to understand that we’re all in it together.”

Here, Manzanilla gives some tips for amateur chefs, spills the beans on annoying customers, and offers a simple, delicious recipe for guacamole.

Q: What’s the best advice you can give to amateur cooks?

A: In the kitchen, we call it ‘mise en place.’ It’s all about the process — the visualization of everything you’re going to be doing; getting everything in place before you start to cook. You can’t just head to the kitchen and grab stuff from the chiller. You need to organize yourself. The mindset is the most important thing for a chef.




Rumba Cuban Bar & Kitchen, Langosta a la Criolla. (Supplied)

What single ingredient can improve any dish?

I really love lemon zest. Or lime zest — I’m from Mexico, so we have a lot of lime around. It improves the aroma, it improves the flavor and it improves the visuals. It gives freshness and crispness. Even on sweets — in a caramel, or a toffee sauce. You add a little bit of lime juice and it balances the sweetness.

When you go out to eat. What’s your favorite cuisine?

Something I really appreciate — in any cuisine — is the dessert menu. I used to be a pastry chef and that really taught me discipline in the kitchen. With pastry, you can’t play with the timing; you’ve got to be really organized. Each dessert is like a main course; you have five elements: The crispiness, the cake side, the sauce, the garnish and the decoration. I’m a big dessert lover.




Rumba Cuban Bar & Kitchen serves Latin American cuisine influenced by Mexican, Cuban and Peruvian fare. (Supplied)

What customer behavior most frustrates you?

When they try to tell you that a dish isn’t how it’s ‘supposed to be’ because it’s not the way their mom or their grandmother did it. It’s a recipe I’ve crafted with my team, and we love it, so now we want you to try it and love it. If it doesn’t meet your expectations because you have a different version in mind, I’ll understand, but I can’t make it the same as you have it in your mind.

I guess people don’t really get that you’ve spent years building these dishes.

Exactly. They’ll ask you to remove one ingredient, because they don’t like it. But by removing one ingredient, the entire recipe can be lost.

What’s your favorite dish to cook?

Pozole. It’s a corn soup. It’s super-basic — you can make it with any meat really. You make a stock with some roasted garlic, bay leaves, pepper, salt. When the meat is tender you add the half-cooked corn. You’ll have a couple of sauces on the side and a lot of garnishes: Onion, garlic, lettuce, cheese. You put all that out on the table and people will add them in. It’s a big, beautiful, messy dish. It’s very traditional — a delicious, colorful dish to be shared at family gatherings. I would make it for my mom on her birthday.




Chef Rene’s classic guacamole. (Supplied)

Chef Rene’s classic guacamole

Ingredients: 250g avocado; 50g chopped tomato; 30g chopped onion; 10g chopped coriander; 2 limes; 10ml olive oil

Instructions: Peel the avocado, then mash it with a fork to the desired consistency. Put it in a bowl and mix in all the other ingredients, folding them in to integrate the sauce’s emulsion. Season with salt and black pepper to taste.


Dubai exhibition highlights Palestinian artist Rana Samara’s latest work

Dubai exhibition highlights Palestinian artist Rana Samara’s latest work
Updated 40 sec ago

Dubai exhibition highlights Palestinian artist Rana Samara’s latest work

Dubai exhibition highlights Palestinian artist Rana Samara’s latest work
  • Rana Samara’s ‘Inner Sanctuary’ runs until August 28 at Dubai’s Zawyeh Gallery

‘Untitled 2’

Jerusalem-born artist Rana Samara’s latest show “portrays an inner sanctuary visually and sentimentally,” critic and journalist Rana Anani writes in the exhibition brochure. Not all the images are comforting though. This painting of a hospital bed, Anani points out, “bears an unsettling feeling.” “The scattered red tubes on the surface of the colorful floors reflect commotion as if there was an emergency scene,” she writes.

‘Untitled 44’

“Samara uses colors, motifs, and shapes to convey her sentiments showing her content, calmness, anxiety, or frustration,” Anani explains. It’s surprising just how much emotion Samara packs into these empty rooms. This bedroom, with peacock features in the background, for example, “gives a feeling of lightness, weightlessness, and a connection with the skies.”

‘Untitled 43’

This is one of the rare occasions that Samara’s work includes a human figure — this contemplative woman. Her usual omission of humans, Anani suggests, “could be a way to capture moments that people leave behind” or “an attempt at emancipation from the restraints imposed by their presence and an opportunity to reveal concealed feelings, whether joyful or gloomy.”  


Thalothya: The art community that sparked a Madinah revolution

Thalothya: The art community that sparked a Madinah revolution
Updated 10 August 2022

Thalothya: The art community that sparked a Madinah revolution

Thalothya: The art community that sparked a Madinah revolution
  • Artist Meshal Al-Hujaili launched a community project of talks called Thalothya to support artists by educating them on other parts of their careers
  • Al-Hujaili began his journey in the art world at a young age by drawing graffiti before taking another direction

RIYADH: The artist’s main focus is on the aesthetic aspect of life, leaving material concerns behind, leaving many artists struggling to understand the economic world, sparking confusion over pricing their paintings and profiting from their talents.

This was one of the reasons that artist Meshal Al-Hujaili was inspired to launch a community project of talks called “Thalothya” to support artists by educating them on more parts of their careers.

Thalothya emerged as an artistic community concerned with spreading artistic culture, enhancing the creative side of the artists, and exchanging experiences.

Their goal is to create a healthy artistic environment in which practitioners find support and expertise to develop their art. The sessions are held once a month in Madinah.

The group also organizes monthly dialogue sessions, regular presentations on the artists’ latest works, online interviews with an eclectic range of influential artists, and discussions on the journey that each artist took and its impact on their craft.

“Thalothya started in an informal way between me and my artist friends, and I decided to set up a meeting to discuss art. Then I was surprised that the topic started to spread among artists and that a large number wanted to attend courses. The news spread in the city. We started with 15 people, and the last session was attended by 60 artists,” Al-Hujaili told Arab News.

Al-Hujaili said that because of the crowds of people who wanted to attend the event, the sessions were moved from a cafe to art galleries in Madinah, where there are halls to accommodate 200 people in the session.

“Many people want to join the discussion circles, which is why I refuse the requests of many cafes and places that want to host us because I know that the place will not accommodate us,” said Al-Hujaili, adding: “Thalothya created an artistic revolution in Madinah.”

He said: “The topics we raise are not purely artistic, so we talk about the legal aspect of art, and 90 percent of artists do not know how to legally preserve their works or price their works. We help them to dialogue and talk in a safe space and host different topics each time. 

“For example, we once discussed the subject of ‘art block’ during our research, and we found a definition that is completely different from what we thought, and we present a new aspect that focuses on the topic of marketing and the problems that the artist goes through, why an artist appears and becomes famous suddenly, and then he is isolated and disappears.”

Al-Hujaili’s paintings are distinguished by geometric formations. He began his journey in the art world at a young age by drawing graffiti before taking another direction.

“I started my graffiti from primary to secondary school, and I drew graffiti, then art took a new curve. For six years, I only drew straight lines and worked on drawing geometric shapes, and the result was special, as I was unique in my art, in which I put my fingerprint. I was requested to paint a mural at the Arab Open University in Madinah,” he said.

The dialogues were not limited to male artists, with women making up a large share of the discussion.

Basma Al-Bloshi, a portrait artist, said: “What distinguishes Thalothya is that it cares about the artist’s aspects, both psychologically and practically, and we discuss the things that develop the artist.”

She continued: “The idea of Thalothya is to educate the artist about other aspects of art. One of our goals is to spread Thakothya throughout the Kingdom.”


Beluga whale lost in French river euthanized during rescue

Beluga whale lost in French river euthanized during rescue
Updated 10 August 2022

Beluga whale lost in French river euthanized during rescue

Beluga whale lost in French river euthanized during rescue
  • A team of 80 people tried to save the animal’s life by transporting the cetaceous into a refrigerated truck to the port in Ouistreham, in Normandy region.

PARIS: A beluga whale that became a French celebrity after a wrong turn took it up the Seine River had to be euthanized Wednesday after experiencing health complications during an urgent rescue operation, authorities said.
The sparkling white marine mammal appeared deep inside France last week, having accidentally veered off the normal ocean migration route that takes belugas to and from Arctic waters.
Fearing the malnourished creature would not survive in the Seine much longer, a wildlife conservation group and veterinarians planned to move the lost whale to a saltwater port in Normandy, from where they hoped to return it to the open sea.
A team of 80 people assembled to try to save the animal’s life, and it was successfully moved Tuesday night from a river lock in Saint-Pierre-la-Garenne, west of Paris, into a refrigerated truck for the 60-kilometer (99-mile) journey to the port in Ouistreham.
But during the drive, the 4-meter-long (13-foot-long) whale started to breath with difficulty, according to Florence Ollivet Courtois, a French veterinarian who worked on the rescue operation.
“During the journey, the veterinarians confirmed a worsening of its state, notably in its respiratory activities, and at the same time noticed the animal was in pain, not breathing enough,” Courtois said.
“The suffering was obvious for the animal, so it was important to release its tension, and so we had to proceed to euthanize it,” she added.
Environmentalists had acknowledged the plan to move the beluga risked fatally stressing the mammal. But marine conservation group Sea Shepherd said that it couldn’t have survived much longer in the Seine’s fresh water.
The group and veterinarians noted the whale had responded to a cocktail of antibiotics and vitamins over the last few days, making them hopeful it would recover once it was back in a saltwater environment.
A necropsy is planned on the whale, which weighed about about 800 kilograms (1,764 pounds).
Rescuers had hoped to spare the whale the fate of an orca that strayed into the Seine and died in May. In 2006, a bottlenose whale — nicknamed “Willy” — swam up the Thames River as far as London and died during a its attempted rescue.
Another complicating factor during the beluga’s rescue attempt was the extreme heat gripping France. Authorities tried to keep it cool and wet with soaked towels and moved it at nightfall when temperatures are at their lowest.
The sad end to a saga that gripped France in recent days came after experts determined the whale “was too weakened to be put back into water,” Guillaume Lericolais, the sub-prefect of France’s Calvados region, said.
Rescuers tried to feed the whale fish without success since Friday. Sea Shepherd France said veterinary exams after the beluga’s removal from the river showed it has no digestive activity.


Palestinian-American comedian Mo Amer releases trailer for Netflix’s ‘Mo’ 

Palestinian-American comedian Mo Amer releases trailer for Netflix’s ‘Mo’ 
Updated 10 August 2022

Palestinian-American comedian Mo Amer releases trailer for Netflix’s ‘Mo’ 

Palestinian-American comedian Mo Amer releases trailer for Netflix’s ‘Mo’ 

DUBAI: Palestinian-American comedian Mo Amer released on Tuesday the trailer to his upcoming Netflix show “Mo.” 

The eight-episode series, which will be released on Aug. 24, centers on a Palestinian immigrant family living in Houston, Texas. It follows Mo Najjar, played by Amer, who straddles the line between two cultures, three languages and a pending asylum request, all while hustling to support his family, which includes his mother, sister and older brother. 

Jordanian-Kuwaiti-Palestinian actress Farah Bsieso stars as Mo’s mother Yusra Najjar, while Egyptian-American actor Omar Elba portrays Sameer Najjar, Mo’s older brother, who has social anxiety. 

Rapper Tobe Nwigwe plays Nick, Mo’s oldest, most loyal friend and Mexican-American actress Teresa Ruiz stars as Mo’s girlfriend Maria. 

Amer also serves as executive producer in the series, along with his “Ramy” co-star and friend Egyptian-American Golden Globe-winner Ramy Youssef, who also appears in the show. 

In December, Amer told Arab News that he is at a point in his career where he is able to share his stories with a wider audience than ever before through an artistic medium that allows viewers to experience both his perspective and that of the Palestinian people in an intimate way.

“That’s why I think the art of stand-up is so liberating. It’s never been about the money,” he said. “Making money is great, and I want to make what I can, but it’s about telling great stories. I’m less concerned about money, and more concerned about punching above my weight. Creating a masterpiece is a worthy trek. That’s how I feel. That’s where I’m at right now with my stand-up, and my TV show.”

Amer began his career in comedy in his early teens and soon discovered that no one was telling stories about his experience or that of Arabs in general.

“I first got on stage at 14 years old, and I started touring when I was 17. Immediately, I started noticing that there was this huge gap,” he said. “There was no real representation at all on any of those stages of Arabs or Muslims. I said to myself, ‘OK, why don’t I introduce it?’”

With “Mo,” “Mo Amer: Mohammed in Texas,” “Mo Amer: The Vagabond” and “Ramy,” the comedian has and still is sharing the stories of both his family and his people. 


Qatar to transform into outdoor art museum ahead of FIFA World Cup 2022

Qatar to transform into outdoor art museum ahead of FIFA World Cup 2022
Richard Serra's 'East-West, West-East.' (Supplied)
Updated 10 August 2022

Qatar to transform into outdoor art museum ahead of FIFA World Cup 2022

Qatar to transform into outdoor art museum ahead of FIFA World Cup 2022

DUBAI: Ahead of the fast-approaching FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, Qatar Museums has announced an expansive public art program that will be rolled out not just in the capital city of Doha but throughout the country. The nation’s public spaces — parks, shopping zones, rail stations, hotel plazas, cultural institutions, Hamad International Airport and the eight World Cup 2022 stadiums — will be transformed into a “vast outdoor art museum,” with 40 new pieces being added to the already existing 70 pieces across the country.

Sheikha Al-Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, chairperson of Qatar Museums, said in a statement, “The addition of 40 new, major works of public art this fall is a significant milestone for Qatar’s public art program. Public art is one of our most prominent demonstrations of cultural exchange, where we present works from artists of all nationalities and backgrounds. From the arrivals at the best airport in the world — Hamad International Airport — to every neighborhood in our nation, public art is there to make your experience unique."

 

 

Comprised of more than 100 artworks, the public art extravaganza will feature 40 new and commissioned pieces. New works from international heavyweights will include artists Olafur Eliasson, Jeff Koons, Yayoi Kusama, KAWS, Rashid Johnson, Ernesto Neto, Lawrence Weiner, Faye Toogood, Katharina Fritsch, and others.

Qatari and MENA region artists whose work will be presented in the public art program include Adel Abidin, Ahmed Al-Bahrani, Shouq Al-Mana, Shua’a Al-Muftah, Salman Al-Malek, Monira Al-Qadiri, Simone Fattal and Faraj Daham.

 

 

According to a press release shared by Qatar Museums, the country was among the first in the region to establish a public art program, which currently includes works from Richard Serra, Tom Claaseen, Bruce Nauman, Louise Bourgeois, Urs Fischer, Subodh Gupta, Dia Al-Azzawi and others.

“Qatar Museums’ public art program, more than anything else, serves as a reminder that art is all around us, not confined to museums and galleries, and can be enjoyed and celebrated whether you are going to work, or school, or the desert or the beach,” said Abdulrahman Ahmed Al-Ishaq, Qatar Museums’ Director of Public Art, in a statement.

The FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 kicks off on Nov. 21.