RIYADH: Saudi chef Hatoon Al-Toukhi is being touted as one of the best authentic Italian food chefs on social media.
“It all started when I got laid off from my job because of the pandemic. Then I decided to go to the world of social media to show people how I cook Italian food, and they admired the originality of the dishes,” Al-Toukhi told Arab News.
She also showcases her Italian cooking techniques live at a number of cooking shows.
Married into an Italian family, Al-Toukhi picked up cooking techniques from her mother-in-law, learning secret tips and tricks to make the perfect Italian dishes.
It is extremely difficult to win the approval of Italians when it comes to recreating their cuisine, Al-Toukhi said, but the talented chef has received the ringing endorsement of her in-laws, and praise from other people for her cooking skills.
“My mother-in-law is Italian and they are very picky about their food and very strict and traditional. So I learned how to make the food from her, and this is how I fell in love with the cuisine, and she approves (of) it,” she said.
Al-Toukhi now conducts Italian cooking workshops, teaching students how to make authentic Italian sauces, pastas, and other traditional dishes.
With in-depth knowledge of Italian food, Al-Toukhi is also an Italian food critic and pasta taster. “Companies send me pasta before distributing to the suppliers so I can taste them and give my approval. I also grade the pastas according to the standards.”
The Saudi chef also has a small home-based business, selling her famous tiramisu, and fresh pasta packs of lasagne, ravioli, linguini, and fusilli among others.
Al-Toukhi revealed that one of the challenges she faces from the Saudi community is that her authentic Italian food is different from that served at restaurants in the Kingdom, as often they alter recipes to cater to the locals’ taste palate. “My food creates a shock for people who are used to Saudi food, but then I tell them that this is how it is originally made. Actually, this is what’s stopping me from having my own restaurant, the acceptance of the pure taste, and the availability of cooking materials.”
Currently, Al-Toukhi is developing a lifestyle radio program that combines cooking and lifestyle topics.
“I was hosting as a guest on one radio show and they liked the energy that I gave. Then the channel contacted me and told me that they wanted to give me my own radio show. I’m excited because it will not only be about cooking, but we will also talk about many social topics,” she said.
As a family, Al-Toukhi has her own traditions with her kids, Dana and Yousef, who are ten and four years old respectively, where they all enjoy a fun day of family cooking.
“When we do fresh pasta at home, everyone has to join in, including my husband, and we play with it. My son plays with it like it’s Play-Doh, and sometimes we invite my mother-in-law so it becomes like a nice family event,” she said.