DUBAI: Saudi chef Turkan Sharawi is rapidly making a name for herself in the world of gastronomy. Her culinary journey began with a childhood passion for cooking, and has blossomed into a full-fledged odyssey. After completing her education, Sharawi set her sights on mastering cooking at Le Cordon Bleu in France, where she polished her skills and expanded her culinary insight.
On returning to Saudi Arabia, Sharawi began working as a private chef for high-profile clients. She quickly gained a reputation for inventive dishes and creative flair, and her popularity rocketed on social media.
In 2022, Sharawi joined the Fatafeat channel and quickly became a fan favorite. She presented “Chef on a Bike,” which followed Sharawi as she traveled on a motorcycle through the Kingdom and Dubai discovering new ingredients and creating unique recipes inspired by local flavors.
Beyond her exquisite dishes, it was her vibrant personality that stole the show.
With flavors that tell stories and presentation that is a visual feast, Sharawi has not only mastered the art of cooking but has also become a compelling culinary storyteller, leaving an indelible mark on the world’s palate.
Here, she discusses respect, sustainability and knife skills, and shares a recipe for a flourless chocolate chili cake.
Q: What’s your top tip for amateur chefs?
A: I’m always concerned about leftover food. I’d really like every cook to think about not wasting food; use everything possible. For example, a simple chocolate cake can be reused for topping and filling new dishes.
When you started out as a professional, what was the most common mistake you made?
I had to improve my knife skills. Mistakes when chopping are common and easy to make, but can be really dangerous.
When you go out to eat, what’s your favorite cuisine?
Each one has its own unique styles and flavors. For example, in French cuisine, I like the techniques. In Italian cuisine, I like the flavors. In Indian cuisine, I like the spices.
When you do go out to eat, do you find yourself critiquing the food?
I really try to understand the culture and critique the food based on its origin. The most common issue I find is the quality of ingredients.
What’s your go-to dish if you have to cook something quickly at home?
I grew up in a city overlooking the beautiful Red Sea in Saudi Arabia, so I love cooking fish when it’s fresh. So I’d say pan-seared sea bass fillet with butter and citrus aioli with green salad.
What request by customers most annoys you?
When I cook a dish just the way it should be and a customer wants to change an ingredient or the cooking style.
What’s your favorite dish to cook?
I like to cook steaks. It was the first dish I learned when I started out and I like how each cut has its own technique. I was so eager to learn all of them.
As a head chef, what are you like?
I try to stay calm and cool all the time. I like to make good connections with the staff. I like to hear their opinions and discuss ways to improve the dishes.
Chef Turkan’s flourless chocolate chili cake
190g unsalted butter
190g dark chocolate
1 tsp cayenne powder
75ml espresso cooled
135g caster sugar
Flaky sea salt
• Preheat your oven to 180°C (350°F). Grease an 8-inch round cake pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.
• In a heatproof bowl, combine the unsalted butter and dark chocolate. Set the bowl over a pot of simmering water. Make sure the bottom of the bowl doesn't touch the water. Stir the chocolate and butter until melted and smooth. Remove the bowl from the heat and let it cool slightly.
• Add the cayenne powder to the melted chocolate-butter mixture and stir well to incorporate the spice.
• In a separate bowl, whisk together the cooled espresso and a dash of vanilla extract. Add the espresso mixture to the chocolate mixture and mix until combined.
• In another bowl, beat the eggs and caster sugar together until light and fluffy.
• Gently fold the egg-sugar mixture into the chocolate mixture until everything is well combined.
• Pour the mixture into the prepared cake pan and smooth the top with a spatula.
• Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the edges are set but the center is still slightly gooey.
• Remove from the oven and cool in pan for about 10 minutes. Then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
• Once cool, sprinkle some flaky sea salt on top and dust with cocoa powder. Serve.