Five minutes with pastry chef extraordinaire Karim Bourgi

Five minutes with pastry chef extraordinaire Karim Bourgi

Karim Bourgi describes himself as a hard-working, passionate chef, a foodie at heart and a gourmand dreamer. Based in Dubai, he is co-founder of KAYU Bakehouse, a member of Les Toques Blanches du Monde and the International Cheese Guild, as well as a brand ambassador for Elle & Vire, Valrhona, Carpigiani Italia and RATIONAL. Here, we discover what drives his passion.

What can you tell us about yourself?
I was born in Senegal to Lebanese parents. I had my first culinary experience at the age of 10, helping the baker next door after school. When I moved to Paris at the age of 16, I decided to pursue my passion and graduated from the prestigious Le Cordon Bleu pastry academy in 2000. After working at the city’s renowned Ladurée and Fauchon pastry shops, I was asked to assist in the opening of a new store at Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Towers. So, my journey took me to the Middle East in 2009, and I’ve been here ever since.

What is your motto?
Because you deserve it!

How did you come up with the concept for KAYU Bakehouse and what’s next?
I decided to open my own concept during the pandemic, as it was impossible to travel during the lockdowns. To be honest, KAYU has always been a dream of mine. I always strived to be independent and aspired to have my own shop in which I would be able to showcase my pastries and creations. I picked the name KAYU as it describes a patient and thorough man who enjoys working in a detailed and systematic way, which in many aspects defines my own work process. KAYU Bakehouse currently has two locations: Dubai and Riyadh. We offer pastries that have French flair, thus allowing people to experience the delights of France without having to travel. We offer a broad selection of traditional French pastries, golden and delicately layered viennoiseries and croissants, as well as colorful macarons and specialty éclairs. My venue offers guests a taste of classic pastries with a contemporary twist, such as muffin croissant “cruffins” and the KAYU signature dessert, which is made of three layers of chocolate: milk, dark and praline noisettes.
Classic desserts are my favorite; I cannot imagine the world of pastry without chocolate eclairs or vanilla millefeuille. I am currently working on a big project that will be unveiled by the end of this year, but I can’t talk about it yet.

How does it feel to be recognized as MENA’s 50 Best Restaurants Best Pastry Chef?
I was awarded this year the MENA’s Best Pastry Chef Award. The award aims to recognize and reward talent and excellence in the field of desserts and pastry. Needless to say, I am moved and grateful for winning this coveted title. It would be arrogant to say that I deserve it for all the hard work and long years I’ve invested in my craft, but what I will say is that I will keep giving my all to the industry with unwavering love and passion. It’s a huge honor to be recognized as the best pastry chef in MENA’s 50 Best. This is in part thanks to my entire team without whom I wouldn’t have made it. This trophy represents many things to me, but the most important is to keep creating and innovating and maintaining this level of perfectionism.

Are you still offering masterclasses?
From 2013 to 2019, I hosted countless masterclasses in 50 countries. I believe that it is now time to focus on my businesses, so masterclasses are no longer my top priority.

What advice would you like to share with our readers?
Bake every day, love what you are doing and, most importantly, do it with passion. You need to put your heart into it and forget about the long hours and hard work. You need to be passionate and motivated. Wake up every day with new ideas, implement them and practice endlessly to enjoy in the future. Always keep things simple; I always opt for a simple process that hits the right notes in terms of taste. So, in conclusion, be simple and efficient.


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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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