Head Chef Rabee Essa, a Syrian national, has 16 years of culinary experience, 10 of which are in the UAE.
Can you give us a glimpse of your career journey so far?
Throughout my journey, food was an important part of my life; my passion began when I was 12 and preparing food for my siblings had become one of my responsibilities.
By the age of 18, I decided that cooking was what I wanted to do. By 2010, I left my hometown in Syria to pursue my dream of becoming a chef in Dubai! Now, I’m a head chef at Cravia.
What’s your favourite dish to eat and why?
Stuffed vine leaves. It’s my favorite, as it was the dish that my mum would prepare whenever the whole family was getting together, especially for the holidays!
What are you cooking up today? Tell us more about the dish.
Today, I’m making a constructed ‘knafeh’ cheesecake with pistachio and rose. First, we will mix the whipped cream in the machine for three minutes on high speed. Then, we put it in the chiller; after, mix it with cream cheese, Nestlé Fresh Cream and Condensed Milk, add a bit of rose flavour, and finally bring the cream from before into the mix.
We need to cook the Pakistani vermicelli at a low temperature, then add roasted pistachios to create a base. To finish our tasty and yummy dish, we lay the base, then cream, summer fruits, and fill the cup before turning it upside down to plate the dessert.
As a chef, what are the top ingredients and products you’re using these days?
In our kitchen, the focus has always been on healthy choices when it comes to ingredients. Recently, oats, spinach and multi-cereal dough are all being increasingly used to create a variety of better choices.
What are some of the most recent important food trends you can tell us about?
For Middle Eastern cuisine, ‘kaak’ is the most recent trend in the restaurant business, as it gives customers the nostalgia feel.
What would you advise suppliers and foodservice professionals who are looking to offer their best to the market and meet demand?
Provide restaurants and kitchens with more local products to support the local community and production.