Boston’s blizzards made her cook. Now, she’s a chef.
Tala Al Amodi is a youthful and totally dapper Saudi chef who is brewing plans for Jeddah behind her eponymous food stand, Chef Tee. You might remember seeing her at Bisat Al Reeh and the Jeddah Food Festival.
It was in Boston, while studying in Business school, that Al Amodi discovered her passion for cooking. “We had to stay in lockdown many times because of blizzards. That forced me to cook to pass the time.”
After graduating from business school, Chef Tee found inspiration on the Food Network. Seeing kids on Masterchef Junior make beef wellington – a technically difficult dish – was also motivating for her. She moved to Paris and joined Ferrandi Paris, a culinary arts school.
Culinary school gave her the practical, hands-on experience that kick-started her career as a chef. She worked as an intern at the L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon, a two Michelin star restaurant, and the Les Climats, a one Michelin star restaurant that serves innovative dishes.
Chef Tee learned kitchen hygiene and the endless kitchen hard labor including cutting vegetables, skinning large octopuses, removing shells from cravettes, scaling heaps of fish and working the meat station.
“When I came back to Jeddah, I realized I wanted to work on the Saudi dishes that I’d craved in my time abroad. I wanted to be innovative with them, and I guess that led to me starting Chef Tee.”
What you’ll find at the Chef Tee stand is Saudi food with a touch of the foreign: molokhia pastries, crispy saffron shrimps, mgalgal tacos and more.
From the Amodi family’s secret molokhia recipe to the fresh catch of the Red Sea, Chef Tee’s approach is to infuse local and Middle Eastern ingredients into her culinary creations.
Since her return earlier this year, Chef Tee has been observing the local food industry.
“We have a market that’s developing. If we get known for our food, the way we’re sharing Saudi art with the world, it will be something that will show the world we’re more than money and oil. Food speaks to the world.”
Whether it’s France or Saudi Arabia, the food industry is a male dominated realm. But recently Saudi women like Chef Tee have been taking the step and entering the food scene with their products.
“Women make food with love, and people need that. Saudi women must become more of an effective presence in the food industry.”
Chef Tee’s words of wisdom to the Saudi restaurateurs and chefs: “If we introduce restaurants that serve Saudi food, our market will grow.”
Chef Tee can provide catering or come to your event with her stand!
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Instagram / Snapchat: chef.tee.sa