Recipes for success: Chef Pierre Haddad  talks Saudi food scene, cooking for celebrities

Recipes for success: Chef Pierre Haddad  talks Saudi food scene, cooking for celebrities
Pierre Haddad (left) has cooked for the likes of Argentinian soccer superstar Lionel Messi and celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck (right). (Supplied)
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Updated 01 September 2023
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Recipes for success: Chef Pierre Haddad  talks Saudi food scene, cooking for celebrities

Recipes for success: Chef Pierre Haddad  talks Saudi food scene, cooking for celebrities
  • The executive chef of Via Mercato in Riyadh discusses the Saudi culinary scene and offers some cooking advice
  • Pierre Haddad has cooked for the likes of Argentinian soccer superstar Lionel Messi and celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck

DUBAI: Lebanese chef Pierre Haddad is the executive chef at Riyadh’s Via Mercato — a luxury gourmet food hall he joined in March.  

“There is a revolution in the food and beverage market in Saudi Arabia,” he tells Arab News. “I love being part of it. It is booming, and it will boom even more. I wish nothing but the best for this country. We are all here for a mission to always deliver the best of the best for this country.” 

Before joining Via Mercato, Haddad worked in Lebanon, the UAE and Egypt. Along the way, he has served some of the biggest names in sports, including Argentinian soccer superstar Lionel Messi.   

“He is a very humble legend,” Haddad said. “I served him, his mother, his kids and his wife. I was very happy in the moment. I created dishes on the spot for him because he is someone very special to me. It was an unforgettable experience, and I can always mention it to my kids in the future. I am very proud.” 

Perhaps a more daunting challenge was serving virtuoso chef Wolfgang Puck, although Haddad says that Puck “loved” his food.  

“It was an honor for me to get such good compliments from a big chef like him,” he recalls.  

Here, Haddad discusses the importance of respect, passion and knives. 

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

A: When you start as a chef, you are always passionate about it and you are always in a hurry to see results. But you must respect the recipe time, the ingredients and the procedure.  

What’s your top tip for amateur chefs? 

Well, I always advise them to love what they do. If they don’t have the passion for it, they will not succeed. They also need to have good quality knives. 

What one ingredient can instantly improve any dish? 

Salt. I don’t mean iodized salt; I mean real salt. It enhances all the flavors. But you need to be careful of the dosage to create the perfect experience.  

When you go out to eat, do you find yourself critiquing the food?  

Not the food, but I’m barely able to find a good server who can describe the food and be passionate about it. I get sad if the food comes and it’s delicious, but the server wasn’t able to explain it in the right way.   

What’s your favorite cuisine? 

I like all kinds of food, but I love Italian. It’s so close to my culture, especially the pizza. I like to taste each element of a pizza: the dough, the sauce and the toppings. If the chef can hit all three elements and create a unique taste, then you know that the rest of the menu will be great.  

What’s your go-to dish if you have to cook something quickly at home? 

I like cooking breakfast, especially eggs. I still wake up with the same passion and I like to be innovative and creative with the spices, condiments, and cheeses. It’s the start of the day, so when you do it right, your day will continue right.  

What behavior by customers most annoys you? 

When they try to change something in the dishes. I’d like for them to try and understand my philosophy when making the dishes for them and why I put each item in a dish. I want them to enjoy every single bite, not just eat.   

What’s your favorite dish to cook and why? 

I was always influenced by my mother. I spent a lot of time with her in the kitchen. I still remember the taste of her kibbeh nayeh. I can still remember the taste of it. It’s in my taste buds until now. It’s a mix of raw meat, bulgur and spices. My mom was the master of this dish. I was influenced by her to do it perfectly.   

As a head chef, what are you like? 

If you’re not a disciplinarian, then you’re not a chef. We’re like an army; you should always lead by example. Sometimes I shout, so everyone can wake up and focus a bit, but I’m not always shouting at people. We need to give some love to the family that we work with — you spend more time with them than your actual family. You need to treat them like family, but at the same time know the limits. They need to cooperate, respect the recipe, respect the food and respect the guests. 

Lebanese chef Pierre Haddad’s carabineros carpaccio




(Supplied)

Ingredients:

1 piece carabineros carpaccio

50 g carabineros smoked roast garlic sauce

10 ml basil oil

10 g yuzu caviar

5 g caviar oscietra

10 leaves micro greens

3 pieces craquant

Carabineros smoked roast garlic sauce:

100 g smoked roasted garlic

1 piece carabinero shrimp

10 ml basil oil

1 pinch salt maldon

1 pinch black pepper

60 g kewpie mayo

5 ml white balsamic

1 pinch piment d’espelette

Sauce instructions:

Cut 0.5 cm from the top of the garlic glove and wrap each one with aluminum foil and cook in the oven on 180*c for 20 minutes.

Remove, from oven take off the aluminum foil and squeeze the garlic so you have the pulp.

Blanch the carabineros in boiled water for 30 seconds, place in ice bath.

In a blender place all ingredients together and blend until you have a smooth blend.

Platting instructions:

Peel the carabinero shrimp, keep the tail hanged, with a knife open the back end to end very carefully.

Tenderize the shrimp very gently covering it with parchment paper.

Place the shrimp in the bowl.

Dots the carabinero sauce in an unsymmetrical way.

Place the caviar gently with caviar spoons

Add the yuzu caviar near the caviar oscitera.

Garnish it with craquant & sakura mix, and drizzle some basil oil.

Place the carabinero head on the side of the plate for garnishing.


Where We Are Going Today: Pierre Herme Paris

Where We Are Going Today: Pierre Herme Paris
Updated 22 February 2024
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Where We Are Going Today: Pierre Herme Paris

Where We Are Going Today: Pierre Herme Paris

Visitors to the Four Seasons Hotel in Riyadh can get a taste for luxury from more than just the decor and surroundings.

At Pierre Herme Paris they can sample pastries and sweets conceived by French pastry chef Herme, known as the “Picasso of pastry.”

Among the most popular desserts are French macarons, and vanille cakes infused with exotic vanilla cream from Tahiti, Mexico, and Madagascar.

Dacquoise biscuits are adorned with crunchy hazelnuts, hazelnut flakes, thin layers of milk chocolate, milk chocolate ganache, Chantilly cream, and several ice cream flavors, while the pink rose macarons from Isfahan, Iran are filled with rose petal cream and raspberries.

All the pastries are lovingly prepared in the hotel’s kitchens and showcased in museum- style class cabinets.

One of the things that  impressed me about Pierre Hermé Paris is that it is headed by the Executive Pastry Chef Steve Thiery from France, who joined the global pastry-making operations in 2019 after honing his talents for a decade and
a half in pastry kitchens from French Polynesia to France and Morocco.

 


‘Disgusted’ British fashion icon bins honor from late queen over UK’s Gaza stance

‘Disgusted’ British fashion icon bins honor from late queen over UK’s Gaza stance
Updated 22 February 2024
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‘Disgusted’ British fashion icon bins honor from late queen over UK’s Gaza stance

‘Disgusted’ British fashion icon bins honor from late queen over UK’s Gaza stance
  • Katharine Hamnett: ‘I’m disgusted to be British for our role in genocide in Gaza’
  • She released a video saying her CBE ‘belongs in the dustbin’ along with PM, opposition leader

LONDON: British fashion designer Katharine Hamnett has renounced an honor she received from the late Queen Elizabeth II to protest against the UK government’s stance on Gaza.

Hamnett, 76, famed for pioneering the slogan T-shirt, was made a commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire in 2011 in recognition of her influence on the fashion industry.

This week she released a short video clip showing her outside her front door, wearing a signature T-shirt with the words “Disgusted to be British” emblazoned on the front, throwing her CBE medal into a bin.

“I’m disgusted to be British for our role in genocide in Gaza,” she said. “This is my CBE. It belongs in the dustbin, with (UK Prime Minister Rishi) Sunak and (Labour leader Sir Keir) Starmer.”

Hamnett, who is noted for her political activism, released the clip ahead of a series of proposed motions in the House of Commons calling for a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.


Review: ‘Dune: Part Two’ solidifies Denis Villeneuve as a master storyteller

Review: ‘Dune: Part Two’ solidifies Denis Villeneuve as a master storyteller
Updated 22 February 2024
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Review: ‘Dune: Part Two’ solidifies Denis Villeneuve as a master storyteller

Review: ‘Dune: Part Two’ solidifies Denis Villeneuve as a master storyteller

DUBAI: French Canadian auteur Denis Villeneuve can rest easy as “Dune: Part Two” pulls off the most elusive of filmmaking wins: improving on the original movie with a sequel. A lot of it comes down to the fact that “Dune: Part One,” released in October 2021, utilized most of its 2 hours and 48 minutes of runtime to set up 2024’s sweeping spectacle of a conclusion to Frank Herbert’s first novel in the “Dune” series.

And what a spectacle it is. Not only is “Part Two” a sensorial treat in every possible way, but Villeneuve also injects the movie with an emotional verve and gravitas, as well as playfulness, that was drastically missing in the first, in comparison.

“Dune: Part Two” picks up on the heels of the first film, locating itself deep in the desert landscape of Arrakis (shot extensively in Abu Dhabi’s Empty Quarter), where young Paul Atreides (Timothee Chalamet) must earn the trust of the native Fremen tribes after his entire house was massacred by the Harkonens in a bloody coup.

While Fremen warrior Stilgar (Javier Bardem) is convinced Paul is the prophesized messiah come to save their world from the colonizing forces of Baron Harkonen (Stellan Skarsgard) and battle-hardened war-monger Rabban Harkonnen (Dave Bautista), other Arrakis natives view the young noble with suspicion.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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As the battles between the Harkonnens and the Fremen play out in gigantic and awesome displays of fire power, Paul grapples with the consequences of his rising power as Muad’Dib and his need for vengeance, goaded by the growing occult influence of his mother, Lady Jessica, a powerful member of the Bene Gesserit sisterhood.

There is also a budding romance between Paul and Chani (Zendaya), a Fremen fighter who is vocal about her distrust in prophecies, and wants her people to earn their freedom themselves, instead of relying on an outsider.

Zendaya as Fremen warrior Chani in ‘Dune: Part Two.’ (Supplied)

High on the list of Paul’s hit list is Emperor Shaddam IV (Christopher Walken) for a reason that is made clear pretty early in the film, while his daughter Princess Irulan (Florence Pugh) serves as the audience’s entry point into the geopolitical nuances of “Part Two,” as she narrates the film.

Props go entirely to Villeneuve and writer Jon Spaihts for homing in on Herbert’s distaste for the Chosen One trope and dismantling the hero’s journey to reveal the greys that lie beneath what may initially seem like a very black-and-white story. Villeneuve also pulls on the religious threads of the story, ever so carefully, and the results are as mystical as they are cerebral.

Rebecca Ferguson as Reverend Mother Jessica in ‘Dune: Part Two.’ (Supplied)

Meanwhile, cinematographer Greig Fraser is well on his way to collect his next Oscar with “Part Two” — the first instalment of the film won the Best Cinematography Academy Award in 2022 — as he levels up his craft in the sequel. Also, composer Hans Zimmer delivers a superior soundtrack that will stick with audiences long after they have left the theater.

As far as performances go, main players Chalamet and Zendaya turn in expected performances, but never really push the envelope. However, the supporting cast, including Fergusson, Bardem, Bautista and Josh Brolin, are superlative and seem to have remembered to have fun with their characters. Even newcomer Austin Butler as the psychopathic Feyd-Rautha Harkonnen is an absolute treat to behold.

Austin Butler plays Feyd-Rautha Harkonnen in ‘Dune: Part Two.’ (Supplied)

While “Part Two” brings about a satisfying end to the events of the first book, the movie heavily hints at a third outing, and it would be a welcome one.

So if you have recently found yourself losing faith in blockbuster movies, “Dune: Part Two” is here to turn you back into a believer.


Comedian Russell Peters to hit the stage in Riyadh

Comedian Russell Peters to hit the stage in Riyadh
Updated 22 February 2024
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Comedian Russell Peters to hit the stage in Riyadh

Comedian Russell Peters to hit the stage in Riyadh

RIYADH: Global comedy superstar Russell Peters will perform at Riyadh’s Princess Nourah Bint Abdul Rahman University on Feb. 24.

The show is being produced by Smile Entertainment and Live Nation Middle East.

“We’re really excited to host Russell back in Riyadh after a gap of over 10 years,” Peter Howarth-Lees, founder and CEO of Smile Entertainment, said.

Canadian comedian Peters will be joined on stage by US comedian Adam Hunter and DJ StartingFromScatch, who will kick off the show during Saudi Arabia’s Founding Day weekend.

Recently named one of the 50 best comics of all time by Rolling Stone magazine, Peters’ most notable tour to date was titled “The Deported World Tour.” It took place in over 40 cities over the course of 18 months and premiered as a stand-up special on Amazon Prime in 2020.

It is not Peters’ first time in the region — he performed in Abu Dhabi in 2023 and also performed in Saudi Arabia’s AlUla in February 2022, among other performances in the region.

Peters, who is of Anglo-Indian descent, was the first comedian to sell out Toronto’s Air Canada Center in 2007 and has also performed at New York’s Madison Square Garden, the Sydney Opera House and London’s O2 arena.

Peters hit the comedy scene when he was 19 and skyrocketed to global fame with CTV’s “Comedy Now,” a Canadian stand-up comedy show featuring on-stage comic routines by pro and amateur comedians.


Saudi artists create special commissions for Riyadh’s Diriyah Biennale

Saudi artists create special commissions for Riyadh’s Diriyah Biennale
'Saudi Futurism' by Ahmed Mater and Armin Linke. (Photo by Marco Cappellletti, Courtesy of the Diriyah Biennale)
Updated 22 February 2024
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Saudi artists create special commissions for Riyadh’s Diriyah Biennale

Saudi artists create special commissions for Riyadh’s Diriyah Biennale
  • The works explore themes of renewal, cultural heritage and conservation
  • The second edition of the Diriyah Contemporary Art Biennale runs from Feb. 20-May 24

RIYADH: The second Diriyah Contemporary Art Biennale, “After Rain,” features the work of 100 artists from more than 40 countries displayed in industrial warehouses in the JAX District of Riyadh. The theme of this year’s Biennale, curated by artistic director Ute Meta Bauer is all about renewal, rejuvenation and revitalization. Metaphorically, it can be applied to the rapid social and economic transformation the Kingdom is undergoing and the role art is playing in that change.

Among the dozens of artworks on show, some were newly produced by artists based in the Kingdom, including “Saudi Futurism,” an installation created by Ahmed Mater, one of the Kingdom’s most prominent artists, and Milan-born photographer and filmmaker Armin Linke. The two men travelled together across the country documenting historical, industrial and scientific sites, including the megaproject NEOM, a dairy farm, monumental buildings, the Shaheen supercomputer, Yamama Cement Factory and the colorful Diplomatic Club Heart Tent in Riyadh designed by Frei Otto. Visitors can peruse these images that merge Saudi Arabia’s past and select their own sequence of images to depict the rapid change the country is presently experiencing.

Jeddah-based Daniah Alsaleh’s “A Stone’s Palette” presents studies from her explorations of the archaeological sites of AlUla and Tayma, focusing particularly on carnelian stone beads produced in Tayma long ago, which, she explains, served as important social artifacts, used as both elements in rituals and as personal accessories.

Daniah Alsaleh. (Supplied)

“I learned they were sourced from the Indus Valley thousands of years ago,” Alsaleh tells Arab News. “They manufactured the beads in Tayma and then exported them to Mesopotamia. I went and got carnelian rock from India and created different pigments that I applied on these sketches, which are transfer photos of the excavation sites with my intervention using modern patterns and ornamentation.”

In his outdoor installation “The Whispers of Today Are Heard in the Garden of Tomorrow,” Al-Ahsa-based artist Mohammad Alfaraj has created sculptures from natural materials he found in the desert, including coiled palm leaves positioned on sticks placed in sand, which are complemented by photographs and painted murals on either wall of the wooden pavilion that encompasses his ‘garden.’

“Everything that is happening today has an echo in our future whether it is good or bad, especially the things that are not really prominent,” Alfaraj tells Arab News. “The installation consists of three parts: ‘Fossils of Time,’ made with photography and fabric — I really think that photographs, especially when they are printed, are fossils of a moment.”

Mohammed Alfaraj's 'The Whispers of Today Are Heard in the Garden of Tomorrow.' (Arab News/Rebecca Anne Proctor)

The second part is a mural called “Love is to Leave the Gates of Your Garden Ajar,” made from the charcoal of burnt palm trees. “What does it say when you use something that has been destroyed and you try and make something new from it?” he asks. “This is something that I want to emphasize: To build more than to destroy. This reflects a symbol of hope, even for the people of Palestine and for people living in any oppressed place. It is inspiring to see people use their resilience to build a new life.”

The third part consists of several new sculptures made from old palm leaves and covered in date syrup and gum Arabic topped with a protective resin that are stationed on metal plinths in the sand.

“I put them into these characters and try and let them have a continuation of their life,” Alfaraj explains. “They are monuments to a life that hasn’t been lived.”

The theme of memory is central to Saudi-based Yemeni artist Sara Abdu’s poignant biennale contribution “Now That I Have Lost You in My Dreams Where Do We Meet?”

Sara Abdu's 'Now That I Have Lost You in My Dreams Where Do We Meet' (Photo by Marco Cappellletti, Courtesy of the Diriyah Biennale Foundation)

“It is inspired by dreams I used to have,” Abdu tells Arab News. “When I think about those dreams, those intangible spaces, they offer us an opportunity to create new memories. The artwork negotiates our relationship with memory. It looks at time as this thing that determines the death of memories and all that is ephemeral.

“The materials are inspired by the Islamic funeral ritual of washing the deceased,” she continues. “I used two main ingredients: sidr powder and camphor crystals. For me, these two ingredients are the smell of death.”

The installation is constructed in a way, explains Abdu, that it looks like it is “trapping and immortalizing memories. Allowing us to exist with them in the same time and space.”

She continues: “The title of the work is very present in the space and revolves around the idea of repetition, leaving the viewer to ask how the answer to that question would leave us feeling in return.”