Recipes for success: Chef Alexandros Negkro Tsatsaronis offers advice and a tasty chocolate orange cake recipe 

Recipes for success: Chef Alexandros Negkro Tsatsaronis offers advice and a tasty chocolate orange cake recipe 
Chef Alexandros Negkro Tsatsaronis is the executive pastry chef at COVA and Sarabeth’s in the Bujairi Terrace in Riyadh. (Supplied)
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Updated 04 January 2024
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Recipes for success: Chef Alexandros Negkro Tsatsaronis offers advice and a tasty chocolate orange cake recipe 

Recipes for success: Chef Alexandros Negkro Tsatsaronis offers advice and a tasty chocolate orange cake recipe 

DUBAI: Chef Alexandros Negkro Tsatsaronis is the executive pastry chef at COVA and Sarabeth’s in the Bujairi Terrace in Riyadh. Tsatsaronis was born in 1994 in Athens, and has worked in his home country as well as Turkey, France, and the UK, with stints at Michelin-starred restaurants including COYA, Chez Bruno, Nobu Matsuhisa, and Macakizi. 

Here, the chef discusses the joy of cooking, his love for pasta and risotto, and his top tip for amateur chefs.   




Tsatsaronis was born in 1994 in Athens. (Supplied)

When you started out, what was the most common mistake you made? 

There were two: First, underestimating the experienced kitchen staff due to a sense of ego inflated by culinary school graduation. Second, mastering the delicate art of cooking fish and eggs demanded patience and experience. Learning to be humble and continuously improving was key. 

What’s your top tip for amateur chefs? 

Beyond having a great knife, meticulous preparation is the real secret. Clear thoughts, organization, and understanding the recipe thoroughly before you start are crucial. Precision matters — especially in pastry, where even a gram can make a significant difference. 




(Supplied)

What one ingredient can instantly improve any dish? 

Salt is the unsung hero. Whether in savory or pastry, it enhances flavors. In pastry, adding a pinch of salt to ingredients like chocolate and coffee intensifies their flavors, bringing hidden nuances to the forefront. 

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

Dining out professionally is a double-edged sword for chefs. While I appreciate the details others might overlook, it can be challenging to fully enjoy the experience when your professional instincts are on high alert. Constructive criticism is valuable, but it’s essential to strike a balance. 




Chocolate tart with caramlized hazelnuts. (Supplied)

What’s your favorite cuisine? 

Mediterranean cuisines, with their emphasis on seasonal ingredients, hold a special place for me. If it were my last meal, I’d choose a juicy steak with asparagus, baby potatoes, and béarnaise sauce. 

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

Pasta or risotto. It not only offers a speedy solution but also brings back childhood memories of family comfort food. 

What customer behavior most annoys you? 

It’s frustrating when guests request extensive changes to a dish. As chefs, we pour our hearts into creating something special, and such requests can feel like an intrusion into our creative process. 




Coconut chia pudding, nutty granola, candied ginger, roasted apple sherbet. (Supplied)

What’s your favorite dish to cook and why?  

For me, the joy lies in the creative process of cooking — whether experimenting with new ingredients or improvising with what's available, the act of crafting something appetizing and unique is what I cherish most. 

What’s the most difficult dish for you to get right? 

Baking good bread is an ongoing challenge. It demands a deep understanding of the dough and constant adjustments based on variables like climate and humidity. Even after 15 years, mastering the perfect loaf remains a formidable task. 

What are you like as a head chef? Are you a disciplinarian? Or more laid-back? 

I’d say I combine laid-back leadership with a disciplined edge. It's a blend that adapts to the demands of the kitchen environment. There’s definitely an old-school discipline that surfaces when situations demand it.   

Chef Alexandros’ chocolate orange cake  




Chocolate orange cake. (Supplied)

INGREDIENTS 

For the cake: 470g water; 125g cocoa powder; 780g sugar; 38g baking soda; 490g flour; 5g orange zest; 470g buttermilk; 245g eggs; 295g vegetable oil 

For the ganache: 465g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids); 465g heavy/double cream; 35g light brown sugar; 35g glucose syrup; 60g unsalted butter; 175g crème fraiche 

For the drip: 100g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids); 60g unsalted butter 

Also: 3tbsp of cocoa powder for dusting the cake tins 

INSTRUCTIONS: 

1. Preheat oven to 345°F/175°C. 

2. Place water and cocoa powder in a pan over medium heat and whisk until powder has completely dissolved and liquid is simmering. Cool for 10 mins. 

3. Add the sugar, baking soda, flour and orange zest to a large bowl. Whisk until evenly combined. 

4. Add the buttermilk, eggs and oil to a separate mixing bowl. Whisk to combine, then add into the bowl of dry ingredients. Whisk in the cocoa mixture. 

5. Grease the bottom and sides of three 7.5 × 23cm cake pans and place a circle of parchment paper on the bottom of each. Add a tablespoon of cocoa powder into each pan and shake to coat the edges. Tip out any excess. 

7. Pour the cake batter into the pans (900g of batter per pan). Bake for around 45 mins, or until a skewer comes out clean. Allow to cool for 5 mins, then carefully flip onto a wire rack. Cool for another 10 minutes, then wrap in clingfilm and place in fridge for at least 6 hours. 

9. For the ganache, put the chocolate in a bowl and place over a pan of gently simmering water. Stir until completely melted. 

10. Put the cream, brown sugar, glucose, and butter in a separate pan. Heat until steamy and the butter has melted. 

11. Once the cream is hot, add slowly to the chocolate, stirring constantly, until all the cream has been incorporated. Don’t panic if it looks grainy at this point. 

12. Add the crème fraîche, and hand-blend until smooth. 

13. Cover with clingfilm and put aside for 2-3 hours, stirring occasionally. 

14. Place your first chilled cake layer onto a cake board, on a rotating stand. Add a dollop of the ganache and use an offset spatula to smooth it out. Add the second cake layer and another even coating of the ganache. Add the third cake layer. 

15. Add another dollop of ganache and spread smoothly over the top of the cake and around the edges. Use a hair dryer if needed to smooth any ganache that may have set. 

16. Refrigerate for 20 minutes. Spread the remaining ganache over the cake, trying to keep the top as smooth as possible while leaving the outside relatively rough. Refrigerate for another 20 minutes. 

17. To make the drip, add the chocolate and butter to a small bowl and melt over a pan of gently simmering water. Once melted, cool to 90°F/32°C. 

18. Remove the cake from the fridge and pour the drip onto the middle of the cake. Working quickly, use an offset spatula to spread it to the edges until it drips down the side. 

19. Allow to cool to room temperature before serving. 


Simi, Haze Khadra share entrepreneurial insights at Harvard

Simi, Haze Khadra share entrepreneurial insights at Harvard
Updated 22 April 2024
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Simi, Haze Khadra share entrepreneurial insights at Harvard

Simi, Haze Khadra share entrepreneurial insights at Harvard

DUBAI: US Palestinian beauty moguls Simi and Haze Khadra took to the stage at the Arab Conference at Harvard in the US to share insights into their business, SimiHaze Beauty.

The twins — who are often spotted alongside the likes of Kylie and Kendall Jenner as well as Canadian musician The Weeknd — spoke at the conference that ran from April 19-21.

“Thank you for having us as speakers at Harvard’s ACH24, discussing our unwavering values in our lives and business which has not only brought us more purpose, but also more success. We also discuss the next frontier of the beauty business as founders (of) @simihazebeauty,” the pair shared on Instagram.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Simi & Haze (@simihaze)

The brand is set to be available in the GCC via French multinational retailer Sephora starting from May 2024, with the sisters scheduled to jet to Dubai for a launch event on May 2.

The twins launched their US-born cosmetics brand in 2021 with a range of stick-on makeup designs that can be placed on the face for a bold beauty look achievable within seconds. The sticker book features an array of edgy designs inspired by their favorite DJ looks from the past, such as chrome wings, neon negative space eyeliner and holographic cat-eyes.

SimiHaze Beauty has expanded to include a range of products, including lipsticks, bronzing powders, a lifting mascara and more.

The beauty entrepreneurs and DJs, who grew up between Riyadh, Dubai and London, are known for their contemporary beauty looks and are often spotted in public with futuristic makeup, something they have managed to encapsulate in their brand.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Simi & Haze (@simihaze)

Earlier this month, the sisters celebrated their birthday with a call for donations to Gaza.

“Thank you for all the sweet birthday messages. Feeling all the love and radiating it all back to you. All we want for our (birthday) is for you to help us build a NICU for the babies in Rafah,” the sisters posted.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Simi & Haze (@simihaze)

“Many premature babies in Gaza are in dire need of help as a result of the ongoing blockade by Israel. Newborns share incubators as supplies run low at the few swamped remaining hospitals that have not been attacked. @heal.palestine is actively working on building a new NICU in Rafah while supporting the only other existing NICU at the Emirati Hospital by providing medication and all the other supplies to help give premature babies the care they need,” the sisters posted on Instagram earlier this week, referring to US-based nonprofit organization Heal Palestine.

The pair have been vocal about the conflict in Gaza, posting frequently on their social media platforms as well as hosting video discussions on YouTube on various aspects of Israeli-Palestinian politics.


Artist Abdullah Al-Saadi represents the UAE at Venice Biennale

Artist Abdullah Al-Saadi represents the UAE at Venice Biennale
Updated 22 April 2024
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Artist Abdullah Al-Saadi represents the UAE at Venice Biennale

Artist Abdullah Al-Saadi represents the UAE at Venice Biennale

VENICE: Emirati conceptual artist Abdullah Al-Saadi is representing the UAE at the 60th Venice Biennale, curated this year by Adriano Pedrosa under the theme of “Foreigners Everywhere. Stranieri Ovunque.” The pavilion’s exhibition, which opened on April 20 and runs until Nov. 24, was curated by Tarek Abou El-Fetouh.

Al-Saadi has played a pivotal role in the development of the UAE’s evolving art scene — his multidisciplinary practice includes the mediums of painting, drawing, sculpture, performance and photography, as well as collecting and cataloguing found objects and the creation of new alphabets.

“Since I was a student, four decades ago, art has been an integral part of my daily life,” Al-Saadi said in a statement. “My art is the result of interactions with places, people, ideas, and aesthetics that I encounter every day where I live and in my journeys. I find myself driven to document these experiences visually or in written diaries and contemplations, seeking to transfigure the ordinary with the passage of time.”

“I am representing myself in Venice as an artist foremost and then as a local Emirati artist,” Al-Saadi told Arab News. “This pavilion will showcase my artistic journey over a long period of time since after university through eight works, two of which are new commissions,” he said of the ongoing show titled “Abdullah Al-Saadi: Sites of Memory, Sites of Amnesia.”

One of the artistic journeys he made that will serve as a new artwork took place amid the Arabian landscape.

“I spent seven days in the valley studying the tea, the coffee, and bread,” Al-Saadi explained to Arab News. “Then after one week I rode my bicycle, and I went to the mountains. During that time, I was reading a book on the Silk Road and trying to imagine how it was to travel on the Silk Road and I compared my way of traveling with how it was to travel on the Silk Road long ago.”

“Abdullah’s work is comprised of multiple aspects, from his diaries to sketches, to landscapes, scrolls and other objects that he creates,” Laila Binbrek, Director of the National Pavillion UAE, explained to Arab News. “They all stem from his diary — a diary he has been keeping for the last 40 years. Every day he writes in his diary.” 


Christie’s Art of the Islamic and Indian Worlds auction highlights rare finds in London

Christie’s Art of the Islamic and Indian Worlds auction highlights rare finds in London
Updated 22 April 2024
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Christie’s Art of the Islamic and Indian Worlds auction highlights rare finds in London

Christie’s Art of the Islamic and Indian Worlds auction highlights rare finds in London

LONDON: Christie’s Art of the Islamic and Indian Worlds spring sale will see 261 lots —including paintings, ceramics, metal work, works on paper, textiles, rugs and carpets — go under the hammer at a live auction at their London headquarters on April 25.

Arab News was given an exclusive viewing of some of the works prior to their public pre-sale showing from April 21-24.

Sara Plumbly, Christie’s Head of Department for Islamic and Indian Art, gave her expert insights into some selected pieces.

These included lot 45, an exquisite miniature octagonal Qur’an, dated AH 985/1577-8 AD, which was made in Madinah, the Qur’an has an estimate of $13,000-19,000.

“We very rarely see manuscripts that were copied in the holy cities. So this being copied in Madinah makes it very rare,” she explained.

“It has a Naskh script. This a very steady, cursive script which is relatively easy to read — unlike some of the others. For example, Nastaliq script, which is copied on the diagonal, is much trickier to read. For Qur’ans you would almost always see a Naskh script for ease of reading. Nastaliq is usually reserved for poetic manuscripts,” she said.

This miniature Qur’an would be small enough to carry with the owner on a daily basis, usually around the neck. Alternatively, they would be hung in their silver boxes on an ‘alam (standard or flag) and carried into battle.

Plumbly, who completed her master’s degree in Islamic Art and Archaeology at the University of Oxford, has lived and travelled extensively across the Middle East and North Africa, including extended periods in Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and Sudan.

Another stunning item in the sale is a Watercolor Album depicting a selection of known prestigious and rare Iznik ceramics from the Louis Huth collection. It comprises 44 single and double-page watercolor paintings of Iznik bowls, flasks, ewers and dishes.

Watercolor paintings of Iznik bowls, flasks, ewers and dishes will go under the hammer. (Supplied)

It was also fascinating to see a rare and complete illustrated manuscript copy of the Khamsa of Nizami by 12th century Persian poet Nizami Ganjavi, together with the Khamsa of Amir Khusraw Dihlavi, a 13th century Persian Sufi singer, musician, poet and scholar. The colors in the illuminations leap off the pages as though created yesterday.

Plumbly also pointed out the exceptional workmanship of an early 13th century Kashan pottery bowl, excavated in Iran’s Kashan in 1934.

A Khashan pottery bowl inscribed with three Persian quatrains, or poetic verses. (Supplied)

“This type of Kashan ceramics have a wonderful luster. It’s a very difficult technique to perfect. This bowl has a really beautiful dark gold color which is very well controlled. The condition is remarkable. It’s one of those ‘best of type’ objects,” Plumbly observed.


Sofia Boutella dazzles at London ‘Rebel Moon’ screening

Sofia Boutella dazzles at London ‘Rebel Moon’ screening
Updated 20 April 2024
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Sofia Boutella dazzles at London ‘Rebel Moon’ screening

Sofia Boutella dazzles at London ‘Rebel Moon’ screening

DUBAI: French-Algerian actress Sofia Boutella turned heads at the UK premiere of her film “Rebel Moon — Part 2: The Scargiver” in London this week.

Boutella wore a black suit from British fashion designer Stella McCartney with a cropped satin blazer and low-rise straight-leg trousers. She styled her short, dark hair in loose waves, complemented by dramatic cat-eye makeup.

In the sci-fi adventure — a sequel to last year’s “Rebel Moon — Part One: A Child of Fire” — which debuted on Netflix April 19, a peaceful colony on the edge of a galaxy finds itself threatened by the armies of a tyrannical ruling force.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Sofia Boutella (@sofisia7)

Kora, played by Boutella, has assembled a small band of warriors — outsiders, insurgents, peasants and orphans of war from different worlds who share a common need for redemption and revenge, and must band together to fight the Motherworld.

Snyder previously spoke about the two-part epic space opera at Netflix’s Tudum global fan event in Brazil, where he showcased a behind-the-scenes look into the making of the film, based on a concept he has been developing since college.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Sofia Boutella (@sofisia7)

“I’ve been working on this story for quite a while,” Snyder said on stage, according to Deadline. “It’s about a group of farmers on the edge of the galaxy that get visited by the armies of the Motherworld, who are the bad guys. The farmers have to decide to fight or submit.”

He continued: “I don’t want to give it all away, but if they had decided to fight, let’s say that was an option, they would have to travel around the galaxy to find warriors to fight with them. And so, it had us traveling quite a bit.”

Kora is not Algiers-born Boutella’s first role as a sword-wielding extraterrestrial. The actress, who at the age of 10 fled to Paris with her family during the Algerian civil war, is known for her breakout performance in the Oscar-nominated film, “Star Trek Beyond,” in which she portrayed the fierce alien warrior, Jaylah.


Rami Kadi unveils couture collection in Saudi Arabia’s AlUla

Rami Kadi unveils couture collection in Saudi Arabia’s AlUla
Updated 20 April 2024
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Rami Kadi unveils couture collection in Saudi Arabia’s AlUla

Rami Kadi unveils couture collection in Saudi Arabia’s AlUla

DUBAI: Lebanese designer Rami Kadi presented his latest haute couture collection on Friday in AlUla with star-studded guests. 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Rami Kadi (@ramikadi_pvt)

 

His summer/spring designs offered something for everyone. The dresses showcased a variety of necklines, ranging from halter gowns and plunging V-shaped dresses to off-the-shoulder styles, strapless designs and more. 

 

 

The dresses, crafted from fabrics such as tulle, chiffon and crepe, exuded voluminous, glitzy and metallic aesthetics. However, there were also satin options and simpler designs available.

 

 

The collection boasted a palette of pastel hues including pink, peach, blue, green, purple, and an array of other colors such as off-white, beige, silver and gold.

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Rami Kadi (@ramikadi_pvt)

 

The show was a collaboration between Kadi and AlUla moments. It was attended by Lebanese superstar Najwa Karam, Saudi actress Mila Al-Zahrani, Tunisian actress Dorra Zarouk, and Saudi influencers Nojoud Al-Rumaihi and Lama Alakeel.