Put grilled Wagyu and marinated black cod on most menus and you’d have a job keeping us away from the restaurant. However, these are just a few culinary delights currently on display during Abu Dhabi Culinary’s first Food Forward series, which runs through July 10.
Food Forward seeks to illuminate the diverse gastronomic landscape of the emirate through an exciting range of collaborations between renowned local and international chefs and popular dining establishments.
This week, Singapore-born chef Reif Othman, affiliated with the United Arab Emirates, joins forces with Emirati chef Faisal Alharmoodi and takes over Tori No Su, Conrad Abu Dhabi Etihad Towers: an award-winning place on the Corniche for days of vibrant flavor .
Othman, renowned for his unconventional approach to Far Eastern cuisine, draws inspiration from both Japan and his country of origin, while fusing French and Italian culinary techniques. His pedigree is enhanced by the local chef and the brains behind the bakery Letsbrioche Alharmoodi, who is ready to breed the exclusive menu.
Plates including Wagyu Tataki with Truffle Ponzu, Seared Scottish Salmon, Braised Onion and Lemon Ponzu, plus a sumptuous Baked Baby Chicken with Spicy Teriyaki are just a few of the highlights. our desires.
We caught up with Chef Alharmoodi to find out more.
What can you tell us about the cover of Tori No Su? What will you do to surprise people?
Being part of a collaboration is such an exciting opportunity and I feel particularly honored to be able to work with Reif on the sensational Tori No Su. We will prepare dishes that are exclusive to Abu Dhabi, such as the succulent chicken Katsu sando served on a delicious Letsbrioche bread.
What do you think you will take away from the experience?
The basis of our collaboration is based on the friendship and respect that we have for each other as professionals. Joining forces with someone of Reif’s caliber is a huge accomplishment for an Emirati chef like me – I can’t wait to get started and show the capital our delicious selections.
What is your take on the Abu Dhabi culinary scene as a whole and how can initiatives like Abu Dhabi Culinary’s Food Forward help you?
I am extremely impressed with the efforts of Abu Dhabi Culinary and the Abu Dhabi Department of Culture and Tourism (DCT Abu Dhabi) to elevate the eclectic culinary scene through unique initiatives such as Food Forward. Activations like this act as a catalyst for the expansion of the gastronomic landscape across the emirate and are an important springboard for the development of local talent to show off their skills.
As an Emirati, do you think your traditional cuisine is well represented in the UAE? What is your favorite local dish and why and where is the best place to find it?
Absolutely, Abu Dhabi is becoming a hub for Emirati chefs to display the richness of cuisine, providing a platform to develop culinary expertise and techniques with initiatives such as Food Forward. If I had to pick my favorite food and the best place to find it it would be Mezlai Lamb Machbous, Emirates Palace – this is a must see when visiting the emirate – the flavors are sensational and the texture of the lamb is always so succulent.
What made you want to be a chef and how did you find the process of creating Letsbrioche?
The cuisine is deeply rooted in my family heritage and traditional recipes are passed down from generation to generation. My love for food grew while watching my mom, and after she got sick, I took charge of her role and started developing my cooking skills by preparing her recipes for the whole family. After obtaining my engineering degree, I studied at SCAFA, School of Culinary and Finishing Arts Dubai to pursue my true passion. During Letsbrioche’s first year, it was a challenge as I had never run a business before. I overcame many challenges, but quickly learned the value of social media and the influence it can have on audiences. In particular, it helped me grow my business until it is successful today.
What do you like most about being a chef?
I like to make the guests happy. Being a chef allows my personality to shine through my cooking style, it allows me to display my creativity through unique tastes and flavors and my passion for the profession continues to grow.
Do you think we need to put more emphasis on local restaurants rather than international franchises? What would you do to change this?
Focusing on local talent and restaurants is important for developing the food scene. I believe that promoting Emirati cuisine as well as influences from other regions will allow the UAE’s culinary traditions and heritage to continue for years to come.
Who in the world of cooking do you admire? Where did you learn to cook?
I have always admired my mother and her ability to cook – she taught me my trade and I wouldn’t be where I am today if I hadn’t looked at her in the kitchen as a child. Besides my mother, Gordon Ramsay is someone I have always admired professionally and I think his passion really shines through his food.
What is your ultimate career ambition?
Looking to the future, I plan to open a new restaurant towards the end of this year. By combining my experience with my abilities, I have no doubts that it will be a success – I can’t wait for the public to taste my distinctive creations and flavors, it will be a real taste of the United Arab Emirates for all to enjoy!
It’s time to impress someone with a meal: what’s the dish you cook for them that never fails?
Without a doubt, Letsbrioche bread. It’s a staple on the menu and a staple when visiting the restaurant.