Cuisine, The Beginning of a new Era
Meet Kuwait's Top Chefs | Restauranteers | Entrepreneurs,looking for social change through importing Multi-Cultural Food based from their abroad experiences, all the way to their hometown, Kuwait.
Al-Bader decided to transfer to Suffolk University, Boston where he majored in Finance and minored in Marketing. To fulfill his passion for cooking, Al Bader, now a certified chef, attended the renowned Cordon Bleu for a 6 week intense training course.
Article Interview: Trained chef and Epicure co-founder Ahmed Al Bader speaks to Louise Oakley about the gaps in Kuwait’s dining scene and how he plans to plug them with fresh produce and restaurant theatre.
“The younger generation looks for entertainment, which must be
fresh and lively. Interesting demonstrations, performers, technology and most importantly, music, are all key in providing the overall experience and showmanship,” says Al Bader.
“Our objective is to strive to offer exceptional cuisine in a
memorable atmosphere, while delivering exquisite dining value and creating a sensation of tastes and textures that are amalgamated with the modern day.”
Finished Highschool in London. Studied Film & Photography in University of Miami. Developed passion for cooking by reading cookbooks and watching BBC food. Faisal was interested in British chefs like, Gordon Ramsay, Heston Blumenthal, Ina Garten (American). He then, started experimenting and recreating dishes.
- Al Makan – The Cube (Art Gallery joined with the restaurant)
“What obstacles are there in Kuwait that you face as a filmmaker?
If you compare Kuwait with other countries from the Gulf such as Dubai and Qatar, you will see that the people support financially, in Kuwait they are afraid to take the financial risk and push you a head when they don’t know what the return is. Also, in Kuwait, they look at art as something unnecessary, something with no return. That’s where we struggle to be more productive.
There are a lot of struggling artists here where they don’t have a place to meet with each other and collaborate. That’s why everyone wants to go abroad and give there; there is just a small place for them to be productive in Kuwait. ” – Faisal Al Nashmi
- “What projects have you worked on?
The first project and biggest I ever did was Hearts of Palm, I did it as a final project for university. When I came back to Kuwait I started with my own projects which is combining the art of film and food together; filming the food getting made but without really telling people exactly what to do, its like a story of showing them how to do it. They can recreate the dish with just watching the video without reading anything. I did around three videos and I am currently working on one.”
Experiment: Modern Popular Kuwaiti Dishes
Chef Feras Al Zaid
“What experience most defined your decision and desire to get into the food industry?
I was a political science major, but felt a bit lost in a field that wasn’t satisfying me, creatively. I was already researching ingredients and cooking as a hobby, so when I decided to drop out of university and follow my passion for food, I was challenged and motivated. I made the Dean’s List in Culinary School, and was offered an international apprenticeship in Turkey. That experience gave me a sense of purpose. When I returned, I wanted to surround myself with people that believed in a true community-based culinary movement, bringing people together through food, and helping to progress our culinary scene forward.”
- Community Table: (The Community Table is a culinary platform that celebrates food and culture.)
Ex-investment banker turned chef and gardener, Maryam Al Nusif, pursued her life-long dream of becoming a chef right after hand- ing in her MBA thesis at Imperial College London. She studied at the Cordon Bleu and practiced in different London kitchens including Ottolenghi, The Providores, Nobu, and Cocomaya.
“I love to introduce people to new flavor pallets and to broaden their knowledge and appreciation for international cuisine. I am always grateful for the trust they place in me and try something they never tried before – and then to like it!” – Maryam
This restaurant is a great place for locals to experience some of the first Theatre-style dining in Kuwait.
– Cooking for the Ambassador of Japan
Organic/Healthy foods made by locals, joined by Western style live music & Artwork
- The Secret Garden
The Secret Garden simply put is an urban community garden. Mimi got permission from the municipality to occupy part of a public garden in Salmiya and setup planting stations so that people and children could come and grow their own vegetables, herbs and fruits. Majority of the garden was built using recycled material and they even have their own compost pit which they’ve started filling up in hopes of it being ready for next year.
The Secret Garden Project: It was Destroyed by the Public Authority for Agriculture Affairs & Fish Resources (PAAFR)
“PAAFR reasoning behind the destruction was that the garden was dirty. Even though the Secret Garden wasn’t being used because it was the summer and there are municipality workers that are meant to clean the garden (the Secret Garden community clean the garden themselves during the cooler months), PAAFR decided it would be better to destroy the garden then try and reason with the community. The result? A catastrophic mess leaving the garden in shambles and disarray. They even had the garbage bins Secret Garden had placed removed and now the garden doesn’t even have trash bins for people to put their trash in. PAAFR also destroyed all the planting stations and just left them lying in the park with nails dangerously sticking out.” – Mark Makhoul (248am)
Refai, 34, is a trained pizzaiolo from Naples. “I went to Italy for the first time in 2000. There I was told if you want the best pizza, you should go to Naples. This was the first spark of my idea to bring the experience of Neapolitan pizza to Kuwait,” he said. After mulling about it, in 2004 he built an oven in his house to work on his skills. But it didn’t work out as expected, so in 2007, Refai headed back to Naples to learn pizza-making. He also worked in a restaurant there.
In 2008, he returned to Naples again and participated in a pizza festival. The same year, Refai ordered an original wood-fired oven from a fourth-generation artisan. The oven can cook in five seconds and reaches a temperature of 500 C. In 2011, he opened Solo Pizza Napulitana. “I deliberately chose to open shop here. This is a hidden place. The interior design is influenced by pizzerias in Naples, with our own touch. Our focus was on comfort,” Refai said.
“Solo Pizza Napulitana brings in fresh mozzarella cheese weekly by air. Organic San Marzano tomatoes are also imported. “I’m always trying new stuff. We are constantly experimenting, but we keep it simple – no more than five ingredients to bring out the individual flavors. Simple is very hard – it is easy to use many inferior ingredients to mask their taste,” Refai said.
But do people in Kuwait really care about authenticity? According to Refai, his role is to educate the public. So what about pineapple as a topping? “Neapolitans will be horrified. We have tried it here, but don’t tell anyone about it,” he quipped.”
- Bringing together the rest of the community: As seen below, Locals are trying to normalize jobs like waitressing + managing and working along side expat workers.
Taking a cue from an American gas station in the 1940s, Slider Station is the first conveyor belt burger joint in the world.
Vegan/Organic/Healthy Options & Supermarkets
Owner: Yousef Al Munayes, Interview
Plant-Based Super-Natural Wholefoods Bar
Coffee shops in Kuwait are growing & expanding rapidly with significant profits.
The first pet-friendly place in town.
Located in the famous, oldest traditional Kuwaiti styled house known as (Bait Al Sadu), that was then turned into a museum for visitors to discover the Bedouin art of weaving, its styles and history.
Jumo is an artisanal coffee shop. The Branding is contemporary Arab/African style.
Another spot that aims to bring people together
Kuwait’s Top Brand Strategist
Nouf Hussain – Pretty Little Things
Besides her myriad of projects, including branding new projects, art directing and styling photo shoots for print publications and individual brands, and hosting brand launches, Noaf started a show called Pretty Little Things. “Pretty Little Things is something I started in December of 2011 as a way for creatives, the curious, and those who appreciate the smallest of nuances to get together, shop, chat, and network with the media and each other in a beautiful setting. It initially started as a way to promote my clients (I freelance in marketing and branding) but when I saw the way people reacted to it, I decided to use it as a platform to promote regional brands and do some good along the way.”
- Qout Market – A seasonal artisanal food/farm/craft market in Kuwait
Foodtrucks & Pop-Up
- June 1, 2017, Food Trucks became legal in Kuwait
Cultural Diversification, Goal Achieved