Executive Chef Manal Ashraf, a Syrian national, has 20 years of culinary experience, 10 of which are in the UAE.
Can you give us a glimpse of your career journey so far?
During my career, I have gained an exceptional track record in hospitality, developing and testing recipes and techniques for high quality food preparation, while minimising costs and supply waste.
In addition to working in many restaurants in Dubai, my achievements include presenting a cooking show on Hawas TV, in Dubai. I have been recognised as a senior member of both the Syrian and Emirates Culinary Guilds. My key competencies include carving fruit and watermelon, catering buffet design, and food styling for sessions resulting in irresistible photos.
What’s your favourite dish to eat and why?
I like beef steak, especially Tomahawk, as the meat is usually tender and well-marbled, which is great because there’s something special about the flavour and smell of cooked ribeye fat. It’s a true crowd-pleaser due to its rich taste and juiciness. Also, the steak bone makes for impressive presentation.
What are you cooking up today? Tell us more about the dish.
I’m making roasted beef tenderloin with mushroom gravy sauce, mashed potatoes and vegetables; it’s quite simple to prepare and, with a few tips and tricks, the cut is the most tender and delicious one available. However, it’s pricey, so you want to be sure that you know what you’re doing.
I also like to roast whole heads of garlic in with the beef while it cooks, then it’s served alongside the meat.
As a chef, what are the top ingredients and products you’re using these days?
Olive oil, chicken, and beef stock, tomato sauce, dry goods, and the spice rack; I also like MAGGI products.
What are some of the most recent important food trends you can tell us about?
I think the biggest trend now in food is healthy green leaves mixed with quinoa and fruits, which I like and offer on my menu.
What would you advise suppliers and foodservice professionals who are looking to offer their best to the market and meet demand?
I advise them to develop their products to meet market needs; our work as chefs always requires new ideas and a variety of dishes, and so they are our partners crafting good food.