Destination KSA - Your Guide to Saudi

Destination KSA - Your Guide to Saudi

Dining Diaries: The People Behind Your Favorite Dishes

Dining Diaries: The People Behind Your Favorite Dishes

There’s a story behind every dish. The time, effort and love that people have put into making some of your favorite dishes sometimes goes unnoticed. Our latest series, Dining Diaries, takes us on a journey behind the plates, straight to the people who have put in their hearts and souls into creating and managing your favorite restaurants, and learning how they found their passion and turned it into a career.


 

Jeffrey Cruz

Daily Edition, Jeddah

Dining Diaries: The People Behind Your Favorite Dishes

From childhood intrigues to adult passions, Jeffrey picked up his love for food by assisting his grandmother. He would run errands for her, and do the proverbial dirty work in the kitchen. From chopping garlic and onions, to helping with the dishes, Jeffrey slowly but surely learned not only the basics of cooking, but the joy a quality dish brings to the people who taste them.

Dining Diaries: The People Behind Your Favorite Dishes

Since then, his career has taken him through numerous kitchens and restaurants around Saudi, until finally founding Daily Edition. While Daily Edition’s menu is vast, its most popular for its ramen bowl. Jeffrey ensures that every element of the ramen, from the noodles to the broth to the toppings, are all from Saudi ingredients and hand made.

Instagram: daily.edition

 

Yasser Alrasheed

Cucina Di Yass, Riyadh

Dining Diaries: The People Behind Your Favorite Dishes

For Yasser, it all started as a way to make extra money while in college in Germany. Over the course of eight years, Yasser learned the basics of making Italian food from the ground up, starting from washing dishes and working his way up from there as he picked up all the essentials for running his own kitchen. Upon noticing the boom of the restaurant industry in Riyadh, Yasser returned home and spent six months studying the market meticulously until he founded Cucina Di Yass.

Dining Diaries: The People Behind Your Favorite Dishes

Drawing inspiration from the restaurant he worked in while in Germany which was called La Cucina, Yasser modified that name while paying homage to his roots by naming his restaurant Cucina Di Yass, which translates to Yass’s Kitchen.

 

Yasser kept things simple, focusing on pastas, pizzas and risottos. He truly believes in ensuring that the restaurant is more than just a business endeavor, and maintains it as a family business, with his sister working as his right hand woman.

Instagram: cucinadiyass

 

Gianni and Nicola Vietina

Madeo, Jeddah & Riyadh

Dining Diaries: The People Behind Your Favorite Dishes

All the Vietina brothers knew growing up was their family’s restaurant. To them, it wasn’t that they found the restaurant business, they were born into it. “At noon, all the kids were going home for lunch. We were not. We were going to the restaurant for lunch,” says Gianni. Since then, they have become the faces of Madeo, one of the most globally recognized Italian restaurants, with a presence in Italy, the United States, and Jeddah.

 

Nicola believes that the restaurant shouldn’t be treated as a business, but as a second home for their guests. “You don’t work and do this business for money. You do it because you love it, and you spend your day there, you are waiting for people to come in.”

Dining Diaries: The People Behind Your Favorite Dishes

When coming to Saudi Arabia, the Vietina brothers realized the difference in the Saudi taste and palate, and made a wonderful adjustment. “So we had to kind of invent different ways of making the same flavor with different ingredients. One of the dishes we are cooking is our most traditional pasta that our grandma used to make on Sundays. It’s homemade pasta, with beef and Swiss chard. But since we are here in Saudi, instead of using Swiss chard we’re going to use molokhiya.”

 

It is that level of attentiveness and care that makes Madeo more than a restaurant, it’s the Vietina family’s way of inviting their guests into their home, and treating them to hospitality and care that can rarely be found in other restaurants.

Instagram: madeoristorante.sa

 

Norma Ortiz

Don Ruben’s, Riyadh

Dining Diaries: The People Behind Your Favorite Dishes

The restaurant business has been in Norma’s family for half a century, as they have run restaurants in the United States since the 1970s. Norma decided to bring her family business to Riyadh with the main goal of introducing real and authentic Mexican food to Saudi Arabia.

Dining Diaries: The People Behind Your Favorite Dishes

She dedicated the name of her restaurant to her grandfather Ruben Tapia. This dedication to her family led to the name “Don Ruben’s”, which translates to Sir Ruben’s. Elements of her family are apparent all throughout the restaurant, with portraits of members of Norma and the staff’s families hung on a wall at the restaurant’s entrance, reminiscent of a traditional Mexican home.

 

Norma believes in growing your business organically to find the best success. She maintains that if you treat your restaurant with love and respect, and grow at a natural and organic pace, the success will come.

Instagram: donrubens.sa


 


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