In the kitchen with Hamdan Al Shaieb

In the kitchen with Hamdan Al Shaieb

Celebrating the sweetest flavors of the Middle East is what Hamdan Al Shaieb, executive pastry chef of Kempinski Hotel Ishtar Dead Sea, Jordan, loves to do. Here, he discusses the latest trends in his field and shows us how to make his specialty cheesecake.

What can you tell us about your career journey so far?
I am a Jordanian chef who is passionate about our region’s rich flavors. Having entered the culinary world at the age of 16, I have been fortunate enough to work alongside talented chefs and learn valuable techniques in the kitchen.

How has your professional experience helped shape you into the chef you are today?
Success is not an easy thing, and I do believe that if you want to become a great chef, you must work with great people. By being part of the team at Kempinski, I have been exposed to high international standards of hospitality, which have enlightened me and broadened my experience in the field of culinary arts. Of course, working with skilled executive chefs has been extremely important and inspirational, nurturing a mindset that evolves around creativity. Needless to say that nowadays, social media plays a crucial part in our daily lives, and in order to be successful, you have to be creative enough to add an element of surprise and the “wow factor” to everything you do. So this is what keeps me motivated and eager to come up with unique ideas in my work, and that is how I have reached where I am right now.

What are you cooking today?
I’m making an Arabic dessert mixed that features a European touch. The recipe includes many items I love, such as pistachio and rose water.

What are the main ingredients and products you’re using these days?
I’m always eager to use Arabic seeds and herbs, like saffron and cardamom, as well as fresh herbs, like mint and sage. Of course, I must mention “jameed,” a Bedouin-Jordanian product that we use in food preparation. It a dry soured yogurt used in many desserts.

What important food trends have you noticed lately?
Social media has made a huge difference to how we prepare and present food. It has a massive impact on consumer behavior, as a single idea/video/image can go viral and initiate a global food trend.

Here are five food trends we have recently seen at dessert stations:

  • Teppanyaki ice cream
  • Chocolate shawarma
  • Burger baklava with Arabic ice cream
  • Tiramisu stations
  • Kunafa kebab

This year has definitely seen more plant-based foods and sustainable packaging. We’ve also seen a dwindling supplies of, well, everything, which has led to shorter menus but greater creativity and fusion options.

What advice would you give suppliers and foodservice professionals who are looking to offer their best to the market?

Suppliers have to be more in tune with the needs of chefs so that they can provide the best and latest products to allow us cater to better cater to different tastes, such as organic, vegan and gluten-free requirements. In addition, suppliers need to be more conscious of food packing to help chefs cut costs and prevent unnecessary waste: using small quantities of a product rather than losing part of a product due to inefficient packaging.


Ingredients for one portion

Shortbread crust

  • 7 egg yolks
  • 80g Nestlé condensed milk
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 270g butter
  • 420g flour
  • 30g baking powder
  • 100g ground almonds
  • 100g ground pistachios


  • 2kg Nestlé cream cheese
  • 640g caster sugar
  • 60g cornstarch
  • 600g whole eggs
  • 160g egg yolks
  • 800g Nestlé cream
  • 70g pistachio paste
  • 2 lemons (zest and juice)
  • Vanilla to taste


  • 100g kunafa dough
  • 50g Nestlé condensed milk
  • 20g roasted pistachios
  • Rose flakes to decorate



Blend the butter and sugar. Add the egg yolks then the ground almonds and pistachios, followed by the sifted flour and baking powder.


Blend the cream cheese with the cream to soften. Add the egg yolks then the whole eggs, one by one. Add the cornstarch, sugar, lemon zest and juice, and vanilla. Mix at medium speed for 15 to 20 minutes. Fold in the cream by hand.


Pre-bake the crust in molds. Add the filling and bake at 150 degrees for about 1.5 to 2 hours.
Let it cool. Add the sugar on top and torch to create crème brûlée effect.

The topping

Roast some kunafa dough in the oven for 5 minutes. Let it cool (thin layer) and then add the condensed milk. Mix it together. Place it on top of the cake.
Lastly, add some roasted pistachios and dry rose leaves on top of the cake as decor.

Add to Favorites

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *