How does it feel to be a world-renowned, award-winning pastry chef?
I don’t feel famous and never aimed for fame; I just wanted to learn as much as possible from the best chefs and fully understand my chosen trade: pastry. Discovering classical pastry dishes from around the world and, most importantly, the science behind what each ingredient brings to a recipe was key. It is only then that you can build your own legacy while sharing knowledge with each new generation of pastry chefs, thereby creating future industry leaders. All of this is far more valuable than gold medals.
What is your mantra?
Always look for the positive in negative situations and learn from each experience.
What are the things you wish you knew before becoming a chef?
Back when I started, there were no internet, so I had to do a lot of research on becoming a pastry chef. Unfortunately, most of the reviews about the trade were quite negative. In fact, the careers officer who visited my high school told me to pick another career because of the long hours, infrequent holidays and meager pay. For me, it was a calling that I had chosen from a young age. I didn’t care what people said, I just wanted to be the master of my future: to travel, experience different cultures, countries, nationalities and cuisines. I don’t regret any of my choices, as each decision I took led me to where I am now.
What advice would you give aspiring chefs?
My advice to those interested in this career is that it is nothing like TV; this is real life, and you need to want to do this job. There will be days that you are so exhausted that you want to cry, but there are other times you feel invincible and so happy after finishing a 20-hour shift. Most importantly, you have to have the passion to make it happen and great teachers to push you beyond your limits.
How are you transmitting your unique style and creativity through Ph by Design?
One of the hardest things in life is finding your own style and being comfortable with who you are. I had some wise advice from a chef a long time ago. He said look at everyone around you, at the things you admire and things you hate and adjust, molding yourself into the person you want to be. He taught me the importance of setting goals and writing a list of where I want to work and with whom.
My cooking style has developed as a result of my experiences and travels. I taste as many different ingredients as I can from different countries, understanding the heritage of each place. I also keep an eye on what’s trending and incorporate these flavors into my dishes. Right now, I’m known for international desserts that celebrate Arabic and Emirati flavors in a modern way.