Cluster Executive Chef Ammar Alekili, a Syrian national, has 20 years of culinary experience, 18 of which are in the UAE.
Can you give us a glimpse of your career journey so far?
At the age of 38, as a Golden Sands Hotels cluster executive chef, I have already established a strong name for himself in the hospitality industry.
Growing up around food and in a kitchen where my passion for cooking has flourished, I was exposed to the art while living in Syria. After completing my degree in hotel management, I joined Rotana Hotels. From day one, I completely fell in love with the mystery world of culinary and cooking arts.
Since then, my career took off with a bang; I won the Gold Medals for the Emirati and new Arabic cuisines at Emirates Salon Culinary 2006, and the Silver Medal as the Middle East’s Junior Chef of the Year, as well as countless others awards.
I worked in many top hotels and restaurants in the country across Rotana, Mövenpick, VIDA by EMAAR, in addition to restaurants chains with different groups. In 2019, I joined Golden Sands Hotels Group as cluster executive chef for four hotels, looking after kitchen and F&B operations.
I have been chosen as one of 250 chefs around the word to attend the World Chefs Tour Against Hunger, which took place in South Africa in 2011, where I showcased my talent in live cooking at different hotels and malls in Johannesburg and East London.
I also hosted several culinary TV shows on Abu Dhabi TV, Sky News Arabia TV and more. I’m proud to be a senior member of the Chaine De France Association, Emirates Culinary Guild and Syrian Culinary Guild.
What’s your favourite dish to eat and why?
Sushi is my favourite food because it’s healthy and you eat it fresh; it contains a lot of omega and proteins. I also love BBQs, the flavour and aroma of charcoal makes for delectable taste (meat, fish, chicken, and even potatoes and vegetables).
What are you cooking up today? Tell us more about the dish.
Today, I’m cooking traditional Arabic chicken with potato (dajaj w batata ), but its cooked in a modern way, where we add some berries into it for a sour and fruity taste, as well the potato. The result is more like a soufflé (which is cooked in an oven with cream and eggs). I finish it off with lemon, garlic and coriander sauce.
As a chef, what are the top ingredients and products you’re using these days?
I’m using fresh herbs such as parsley, coriander, rosemary and thyme (because herbs change the taste of every dish and give it a special aroma), as well as some nuts and crunches such as walnuts, almond chia seeds, and sunflower seeds to make the dish more rich in protein.
What are some of the most recent important food trends you can tell us about?
Recent trends include plant-based and vegan foods, as well as flavoured hummus (black, pesto, beetroot, etc.).
What would you advise suppliers and foodservice professionals who are looking to offer their best to the market and meet demand?
My advice to all food suppliers is to stay close to chefs and see what their challenges are in term of products and how they can make their life easier.
At Nestlé, for example, they are always striving to understand chefs’ requirements; it’s evident that they work to improve ingredients for them by providing ready-to-use products such as sauces, soups, spices, and more, which can add a value to their meals and help them save time.