A taste of culinary excellence with renowned chef Faisal Al Deleigan

A taste of culinary excellence with renowned chef Faisal Al Deleigan

Faisal Al Deleigan is a man of many talents; he is a banker, a world-renowned chef, consultant and humanitarian at heart. With his consultancy work, he showcases not only the richness of a plethora of cuisines but also breathes life into recipes. In this exclusive interview, he tells us about his journey and how he helps his clients achieve success.

What can you tell us about your experience mentoring and tutoring restaurants in the fast food and casual dining sector in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Riyadh over the past 11 years?
We have had the chance to assist and work with people from all walks of life in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. Working with so many small, medium and big enterprises has provided us with the ability to uniquely tailor our services to cater to the different needs of each restaurant and concepts, from menu engineering and food plating to training the staff, costing, kitchen layout and branding, as well as designing or redesigning the entire concept. Some businesses have a good concept but might be experiencing difficulties with implementation, so with the help of our services, we guide them to reach their goals. Many of the establishments we have mentored started with one branch and some have expanded to as many as 50 chains. What helped was their focus on a limited yet interesting menu, which they have mastered with excellent quality. If they had a complicated menu, they would’ve had difficulties opening more chains. And, of course, management plays a big role in their success.

You learned about the art of cooking in Italy and England. How has this international exposure influenced your approach to the food and beverage industry?
I have learned a great deal from this experience, as Italian cuisine is one of the most popular cuisines in the world. I have learned and mastered many techniques from the most talented Italian chefs, which has helped me think differently even when cooking local Saudi Arabian cuisine, which is very rich and flavorful cuisine but in need of additional exposure. Therefore, in some cases, the fusion of cuisines helps introduce a cuisine to a wider range of audiences. I believe that my international background has allowed me to do so by developing the cuisine and going to the next level.

As a member of the World Master Chefs Society and Foodservice Consultants Society International, what benefits do these affiliations bring to your consultancy work?
I think being a part of the World Master Chefs Society and Foodservice Consultants Society International helps you make the right connections, whether it’s people from your field or not. I believe that by sharing knowledge and experience with your peers, you can grow, connect and network.

In your opinion, what are the key elements that contribute to the success of a restaurant?
One of the key elements to success is having the right menu in terms of taste and presentation, emulating high standards and quality. Branding is also a very important element to attracting customers, as well as the interior and atmosphere of the restaurant. Last but not least, customer service and the elements that help forge a memorable satisfying customer experience are also important.

What are the main challenges faced by restaurants and how do you, as a consultant, help these businesses overcome them?
One of the main challenges, in my opinion, is securing funds. When people open a restaurant, they often overlook the importance of additional cash to operate and allocate a budget for marketing, especially in the initial stages, to garner exposure and attract customers. Another critical challenge involves maintaining food quality and providing excellent service consistently. Effective management is essential to address these challenges. Additionally, taking care of the employees is a vital aspect of running a successful restaurant, as their happiness has a direct impact on the business.

How do you stay updated on the latest trends and innovations in the food and beverage industry and how do you incorporate them into your consultancy services?
In our consultancy, we have a research and development department and so this helps us stay up to date on the latest market trends. Keeping up with social media is also very important. Furthermore, it is crucial to stay alert whether it’s a new viral recipe or a restaurant. This is what allows us to stay fresh, modern and on trend.

As a consultant and mentor, how do you tailor your guidance to suit the needs and goals of each restaurant you work with?
Each restaurant has its own set of unique challenges, either in terms of its operations or its desire to take the next step for development, and so we have a strong process that helps us understand what they need and try to fill that gap by recommending suitable solutions within the client’s budget and capabilities.
I am head of consultants at ZADK, which is a non-profit, independent Saudi academy that will serve as a channel for transformation within the Saudi Arabian food sector. ZADK aims to build a top-quality and best-in-class culinary platform to drive social change, support Saudization efforts and help to eradicate unemployment. ZADK was founded by Rania Moualla, a Saudi philanthropist who dreams of providing the youth with a chance to achieve the highest level of academic excellence in culinary education. ZADK will do this through a hands-on approach, so they are well-prepared to work for established food businesses both locally and globally. The program is recognized and accredited by the prestigious Culinary Arts Academy of Switzerland.


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About author

Rita Ghantous

Rita Ghantous is a hospitality aficionado and a passionate writer with over 9 years’ experience in journalism and 5 years experience in the hospitality sector. Her passion for the performance arts and writing, started early. At 10 years old she was praised for her solo performance of the Beatles song “All My Love” accompanied by a guitarist, and was approached by a French talent scout during her school play. However, her love for writing was stronger. Fresh out of school, she became a freelance journalist for Noun Magazine and was awarded the Silver Award Cup for Outstanding Poetry, by The International Library of Poetry (Washington DC). She studied Business Management and earned a Masters degree from Saint Joseph University (USJ), her thesis was published in the Proche-Orient, Études en Management book. She then pursued a career in the hospitality industry but didn’t give up writing, that is why she launched the Four Points by Sheraton Le Verdun Newsletter. Her love for the industry and journalism led her to Hospitality Services - the organizers of the HORECA trade show in Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Jordan, as well as Salon Du Chocolat, Beirut Cooking Festival, Whisky Live and other regional shows. She is currently the Publications Executive of Hospitality News Middle East, Taste & Flavors and Lebanon Traveler. It is with ultimate devotion for her magazines that she demonstrates her hospitality savoir-faire.

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