Nouel C. Omamalin, from the Philippines, is innovation chef/owner at The Nifty Chef LLC. He has 20 years of culinary experience, 12 of which are in the UAE.
Can you give us a glimpse of your career journey so far?
I come from a family of artsy foodies in a small town in the Philippines; my mum owned a restaurant. I prowled the international culinary stage since 2006, before leaving my job as an executive pastry chef and joining the airline industry as a first-class in-flight chef.
After publishing my first book, I was convinced it was time to formally establish my own consulting company, The Nifty Chef LLC, based in Dubai. I’m currently running several projects as a food innovator creating recipes, writing menus, working with different food businesses in the Middle East and inspiring other chefs through my social media presence (@chefnouel).
What’s your favourite dish to eat and why?
I’d die for a great steak! I believe this brings a lot of nostalgia, as I remember going crazy over anything that my mum barbecued on coconut charcoal. Hence, biting into expertly prepared pan-fried or grilled meat brings a lot of comfort.
What are you cooking up today? Please tell us more about the dish.
Innovation is the key ingredient of my dish using several Nestlé products, and creating a dessert that is both nostalgic and trendy. To complete a cake in four hours is a feat, but the Dalgona Wafer Opera was up to the task. It’s reminiscent of the French Opera Cake with a twist: the final touch of Dalgona coffee on top of the dessert is our crown.
What you will find interesting is the use of mayonnaise in the chocolate Victoria-style sponge cake replacing part of the fat and eggs. Mayonnaise keeps the cake tender for a longer period of time. The whipped chocolate ganache layer is infused with Chokella spread, giving a slight hazelnut flavour. The KitKat Mix-in, with crunchy and chocolatey combinations, adds the textural contrast (I added some white chocolate and salt to elevate the experience). Lastly, we whisked Nescafé instant coffee with sugar and warm water to create a foamy Dalgona.
As a chef, what are the top ingredients and products you’re using these days?
As you can imagine, dairy products are a pastry chef’s best friends. In addition, chocolate products whether in dry or ready-to-eat form. I also use dehydrated items such as skimmed milk and coffee to have more control over my formulations. As summer is here, yellow fruits and berries are always available in my inventory.
What are some of the most recent, important food trends you can tell us about?
The need for “entertainment dining” will remain. By this, I’m referring to desserts or foods that inspire consumers to share their experiences on social media – popping candies, smoking dishes, cryogenic food, melting chocolate spheres, etc.
Flavours such as caramel, chocolate, salted sweets and pistachios will remain top favourites.
There is also a revival of the love for the classics such as doughnuts and cookies. We will see a lot of re-inventions with these products.
Lastly, the role of the food delivery-friendly menu will become ever-important, not only because of the pandemic, but due to the availability of better technology and infrastructure.
What would you advise suppliers and foodservice professionals who are looking to offer their best to the market and meet demand?
Everyone has to work as a team and be reminded that the industry is a synergy: the pandemic has highlighted that. Fostering a better relationship built on trust between suppliers and professionals helps in achieving sustainable results.
Secondly, keeping an open mind in regards to ingredient choices also helps foodservice professionals progress better and become more resilient. It keeps businesses up-to-date and relevant as consumer demands continuously evolve.
Lastly, foodservice professionals really need to consider food innovation as an integral part of their business and invest in it. Having an effective menu today doesn’t mean you’re covered for life. Change is constant. Businesses need to adapt to change on a regular basis.