With decades of experience working in the kitchen of royalties and renowned hotels, Chef Batoul Jarmourne, also known as Chef Mama at Medley, Pullman Dubai Deira City Centre, is a self-taught chef who has stayed true to her roots throughout her culinary career.
Hailing from Morocco, Chef Mama has worked with Princess Lalla Amina, the youngest sister of the late King Hassan II of Morocco in the late 80’s followed by a few more members of the Royal family before joining the Accor Group where she was in charge of Al Yacout Moroccan Restaurant in Sofitel Bahrain.
In 2008, Chef Mama moved to Dubai where she started working in Sofitel City Centre Hotel and now is the Moroccan chef at Medley Restaurant in Pullman Dubai Deira City Centre Hotel and she tells Catering & Hotel News ME about her journey as a chef.
“When I was young, the kitchen always fascinated me, I was in awe and all I remember was watching my mother cooking,” Chef Mama says.
“The way she chose her vegetables and ingredients ensuring they are fresh and the love she put in every meal, I saw myself in that and immediately fell in love with cooking as well. At the age of eight, while my parents were away, I wanted to give them a present, so I decided to cook for them. I made a fish with lemon and spices and had it ready by the time they came back. My parents were so proud of me and they recognised my talent and passion for cooking since then,” she added.
From cooking in the kitchen with her mother, Chef Mama went on to work in the kitchens of royalties before moving to hospitality, an experience that she cherishes to date, according to the chef.
“My earliest memory in a commercial kitchen is when I starting working in a very well-known restaurant in Morocco in 1986. All the upscale people as well as the royal family used to visit that venue often and one day the King’ son was at the restaurant and ordered a fish dish. I got the opportunity to cook it myself and he liked it so much that he asked to see me in person and congratulated me for his amazing culinary experience,” Chef Mama recalls.
“I have a simple philosophy when it comes to creating my dishes and that is always staying true to my origins and my Arabic/Moroccan culture. I don’t need to taste the food when I cook. Having more than 20 years of experience in different top ranked kitchens in Morocco and GCC, I know how much salt I have to throw in the pot,” she adds.
One aspect of eating Chef Mama’s food which makes her stand out from other chefs is that she serves every guests personally and makes sure to build a personal connection between them, “My biggest challenge is to reach out to each and every one of my guests’ heart and satisfy their culinary desires. There will always be ups and downs in the life of a chef but the confidence and the experience are key points to thrive on,” she says.
“I always present a wide variety of dishes with local, Arabic and international flavours to please everybody‘s demanding taste buds. As Dubai is a multinational city, we are having guests from all over the world and we want to offer to all nationalities strong and flavoured homemade cuisine,” she adds.
Having been in the industry for a long time now, Chef Mama has no doubts that the increasing competition in the market is pushing venues to up their game.
“Dubai is blooming in the F&B scene, it is overwhelming. New restaurants are emerging with many new concepts being introduced to the scene. Moreover, many known chefs are breaking in to the region to come and get their share of the market pie,” she says.
“On the other hand, guests are becoming more and more demanding, social media is playing a very important role, so the game is tough as we need to keep high standards and be attractive with our menus and prices.”