Chef Nour’s 2019 Food Trend Predictions:
Vegan pop ups and speciality restaurants that focus on one thing, often artisanal, and doing it exceptionally well.
Jeddah born Nour Al Zaben discovered her passion for cooking at a young age. At 14, she moved away to boarding school, where meals lacked a touch of warmth and comfort. Wanting to feel closer to home, she found herself in the kitchen, recreating familiar dishes and discovering new flavors along the way.
However, her transition into a culinary career didn’t happen until she finished her degree in Banking and Finance:
“In those days being a chef was a bit of a taboo, it was not a career path that Arab parents pushed for. However, after finishing my degree in banking and finance, I managed to do a cooking degree instead of a masters. I attended Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, and did a full degree in French cuisine.”
When she returned to Jeddah, Chef Nour gained experience and understanding of the local palate by joining different culinary brigades—making her way through the kitchens of Toki and AlMultaqa; and eventually collaborating with another restaurateur and worked on the menu of Soli Sushi.
“I took a break after that and helped in our family business. I made a deal with my mom to do it for a year, then afterwards go back to my first love.”
Indeed, when Chef Nour made her comeback, she went all-in. Together with her partners, they opened Urb Kitchen, one of the trendiest restaurants in Jeddah right now.
“URB kitchen was previously called urban diner, the restaurant and the menu lacked creativity, and the atmosphere was almost nonexistent. With that said we still saw potential. Deciding to revamp the place, we took on the restaurant and managed to give it a full face lift. We worked day and night on a creative menu to cater to the masses, our prices are reasonable but never once did we compromise on ingredients. URB Kitchen was our first local concept and we are truly proud of that,” said Chef Nour.
The dishes are innovative, yet feel homey and inviting. It reflects food you grew up loving but with a twist. Take for example the beet hummus topped with quinoa falafel. The food is also aesthetically pleasing, Chef Nour and her partners believe that people eat with their eyes first and that’s what makes URB kitchen stand out.
Social trends are developing and people are looking to try new things, URB Kitchen is setting the standard of casual dining, it is a melting pot of traditional ingredients and modern techniques. This reflects Nour’s guiding principle as a restaurateur and chef:
“Have a strong concept first, the rest will follow. You can tweak dishes along the way, crafting a menu is a process, for it to be great, you have to be building upon a solid concept.”
Currently, URB Kitchen is looking forward to providing an all-day dining service, and welcoming guests to their new outdoor terrace.