5 minutes with chef Simon Mouannes

5 minutes with chef Simon Mouannes

Executive chef and consultant Simon Mouannes believes that in order to become a great chef, one must work with the best in the business. Here, he gives us a taste of the Saudi market and his upcoming projects.

How would you describe your professional journey?
I began my career 28 years ago; what started out as a summer job turned out to be a life calling.
After I obtained my diploma in hotel management, I worked alongside some of the best chefs in various hotels to upgrade my skills and gain a deeper understanding of culinary techniques and hospitality.
I came to Saudi Arabia in 2014 and realized it was the ideal place to showcase my skills, because it’s a highly competitive market.

What can you tell us about your work as a consultant chef?
As a consultant chef, I use my skills, knowledge and expertise to help businesses in the food industry overcome challenges. I also help improve businesses and keep them modern and relevant by helping them find their unique selling points.
Consultant chefs help food businesses improve, adapt and become more profitable. This includes offering advice on kitchen equipment management to menu planning. It is a varied role and can be extremely rewarding for people who enjoy problem solving and have good analytical skills.
The world of restaurants and catering services is highly competitive, and if companies want to get ahead, they need to make sure everything runs smoothly and offer something customers want.
My work involves: food innovation and menu development; recipe testing and creation, as well as standardization across multiple locations within the same chain; setting food safety measures and food quality control procedures; developing protocol for proper kitchen efficiency; checking food cost management is handled correctly; and handling kitchen design and staffing.

What are the main challenges you’ve faced in the Saudi market and how did you overcome them?
In recent years, Saudi Arabia has undertaken significant social and cultural reforms to diversify its economy and encourage tourism. It is becoming increasingly cosmopolitan, with a population including expatriates. As a result, the food scene has expanded to include a wide range of international cuisines, including Asian, European, Italian and American. Since last year, Riyadh has been investing in foreign chefs, which has created greater competition and elevated the dining scene. As a consultant chef, I always keep up with the latest innovation and ideas in the world of cooking to secure a high level and in line with the requirements of my customers.

What culinary trends are you eager to explore?
Food smoking is a hot trend for many reasons. Over the last couple of years, smoke has become extremely integral to menus all around the world. From smoking meat for hours to smoking elements that make up a dessert, techniques have become more sophisticated and have challenged the way people view food smoking. It is my new favorite cooking trend, as it is not only about the balance of seasoning and the flavoring of the food but also about the balance of the smoke and heat.

What are your future plans?
I’m currently working with a well-known company in Kuwait that’s planning to open in Riyadh, and I will be heading five restaurants. We plan to become one of the best F&B companies in the Saudi market.



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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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