Life of an expat chef in Riyadh.
At a certain point in life, we have all wondered what it’s like to live a chef’s life. Surrounded by food 24/7, enjoying the 5-star life and having the opportunity to meet and cook for the popular celebrities! But, is a chef’s life really one big dessert platter or are there other steamy, spicy courses added to this meal?
To find out, we met a Turkish chef, Chef Huseyin. He is the Chef de Cuisine of Azure restaurant, an Aegean-inspired cuisine, at Hyatt Regency. He has been living in Saudi Arabia for 10 months now
Chef Huseyin gave us a taste of his life in Saudi Arabia. Keep reading to find out the ingredients of a chef’s life:
How do you find life in Riyadh?
I like my life here. I learned a lot after I moved to Riyadh. Initially, I was new to the rules of the place and I found it really hot here, especially the water. I can’t take a shower in the morning during the summers. *laughs*
But then, I started observing and learning the way Saudis lived their life and adapted the same. Riyadh has brought me closer to my religion. I love how the stores in the malls close during prayer time; this pushes us towards prayer and doesn’t let us miss it.
Is there any Saudi celebrity whom you’d love to cook for?
I would love to cook for the king. It’s my dream. But, then I’ll be very nervous.
What would you cook for him?
Ah. He’s such a special person. I haven’t really decided what I’d cook for him, but, I think I’ll cook a beautiful Aegean meal. I’ll pick a simple dish that’ll highlight the taste of the fresh fish, using minimum spices… just like the Aegeans do. I hope he’ll like it.
Pick one: Comfort food or fancy food? Which one would you go for?
Whatever my stomach asks for. I’ll stick to healthy alternatives. Maybe a vegetable or lentil soup. It is really healthy for your body, especially if you have it for breakfast. Very beneficial.
There’s a surprise family/friend gathering at your place. What would you cook? Think fast!
I would cook chicken with cream sauce or maybe salmon… because my wife loves it and she would want to eat that.
What’s your favorite cuisine?
I have a soft corner for Aegean cuisine. I love how simple and healthy the food is. We only use salt, pepper, a little cumin and olive oil or butter to prepare the meal. This ensures that the meat isn’t overpowered by the spices. It smells and tastes so good.
Is there a Saudi meal that you love?
I love lamb ouzzi. It tastes absolutely amazing. It’s not too spicy. It’s made perfectly. The first time I eat it, I liked it very much.
Is there a Saudi or an Arab spice that you can’t live without?
I don’t normally cook with lots of spices, but, I like cumin powder.
What are your thoughts on the popular diets that people follow?
Oh, I don’t mind. No problem. Let them diet. As long as they’re eating healthy.
Are you on a diet?
No. *comical smile and bursts out laughing*
What is your advice to people when it comes to food and healthy eating?
Okay… I have a few pieces of advice to share… I personally follow them, too, and they are very helpful:
- Have a good lentil soup or vegetable soup for breakfast. It is beneficial for the body.
- Try to have 200gms of yogurt daily for a happy, healthy stomach. Yogurt will aid your digestion.
- Avoid things that’ll make your stomach feel bad.
- Use minimum spices and stick to the basics like salt and pepper to get the real flavor of food.
- Eat whatever your body craves for, but make sure it’s healthy.
What’s the best part of being a chef?
SET THINGS ON FIRE! Haha! I get to use the hot section. That’s my thing. I use the grill, oven, fry… set fire. It’s exciting and exhilarating.
I like using the knife, too. *Shows his scars on his hands, happily*. The chefs in the kitchen also have fun by scaring their fellow chefs with the hot pan or spatula.