JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia’s Abdulrahman Enani may have humble beginnings as a dishwasher but his work ethic and creativity have seen him work at top restaurants and privately for clients in the US, the UAE and the Kingdom.
Enani told Arab News during a recent interview: “It is important to be a humble student with discipline, dedication, and understand the why behind your culinary pursuits. These principles have become the bedrock of my success.”
He has a passion for pop-up dinners and his first in San Francisco was memorable because of the presence of the head chef of a Michelin-starred restaurant. “This event marked a significant milestone as I have crafted and executed a menu that impressed seasoned chefs, demonstrating my culinary prowess.”
Enani is the chef behind Jeddah’s renowned taco truck “Caliente,” which he said is “a testament to my adaptability and innovation. Born during the COVID-19 pandemic, the idea was inspired by the American comedy-drama movie ‘Chef.’”
The truck not only served as a source of income but also as a platform to educate the community about food, flavors and ingredients, setting it apart from other food trucks in the region.
“My specialization in Latin and Asian cuisines, influenced by my family and mentors, has shaped my cooking style,” he said.
The contrasts between the two cuisines inspires him: “I appreciate the finesse in Japanese cuisine and the authenticity in Latin cuisines, I believe that their juxtaposition creates a perfect balance in the world of food, offering a genuinely elegant dining experience.”
Enani was featured in the American reality TV cooking competition “Top Chef.” He has sharpened his culinary skills in South America and also taken cooking courses in California.
I’m truly enjoying the opportunity to explore and immerse myself in the fascinating world of Saudi cuisine.
Abdulrahman Enani, Saudi chef
Enani’s love for food is deeply rooted in his family, particularly his mother. “Her curiosity for ingredients, creativity, and the way she tastes food at all stages have significantly influenced my cooking style. Additionally, working with Michelin-starred chefs in San Francisco instilled in me the importance of taste, cleanliness, organization and forward-thinking.”
He believes that a well-trained cook can create magic for consumers: “Knowledge represents the database of information, flavors and techniques, while feelings encompass creativity, love and confidence. Balancing these elements allows a chef to create exceptional dishes that resonate with diners.”
Enani also draws inspiration from top chefs including Denmark’s Rene Redzepi, Roy Choi who is the creator of the Korean-Mexican taco truck Kogi, and the late Anthony Bourdain. These culinary legends have left a lasting impact on Enani’s journey.
His secret in the kitchen is simple: “Cooking with love and respect for ingredients.”
For example, he said that “seasonal radishes from a local farmer are served with flavored butter, showcasing the respect for the ingredients’ natural beauty.”
Enani is determined to pass on his knowledge and holds regular cooking classes and workshops. To promote sustainable cooking, he has worked with institutions including King Abdullah University for Science and Technology.
He also works for clients in Saudi Arabia, the UAE and the US: “As a private chef, you get the chance to make someone’s occasion even more memorable. Food plays a big role in private events and I loved contributing and sharing my passion and creativity, and of course most of all that smile I seek to see on people’s faces after they try my dishes.”
Enani is currently a consulting chef at Infuse Advisory, where a new culinary concept for Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Culture is being produced.
“I’m truly enjoying the opportunity to explore and immerse myself in the fascinating world of Saudi cuisine,” he added.
To young chefs, particularly those starting in entry-level positions, Enani has simple advice: “Always be humble, as learning is a lifelong journey in the culinary world.”