Ahmed Darweesh Alhammadi , popularly known as Chef Ahmed is the quintessential culinary personality in Dubai (UAE)With over 10 years of experience, he has pioneered numerous culinary concepts and has prepared, both, Arabic and international cuisines, designed to capture a delicious and exciting range of flavours, textures and aromas.
When asked what drew him to the kitchen,Ahmed revealed that cooking wasn’t his first career option; he always aspired to join the armed forces, but never got selected; hence, he let go of that dream and opted to become a chef. “Since I was in primary school, I wanted to work for the country and I wanted to die as a true Emarati . However, once I became a chef, I grew passionate about this field. I wanted to outclass everyone in this field,” says Ahmed
Although Ahmed never had the opportunity to go to a culinary school, he plans on making his own institute one day. “I don’t need anyone’s support, especially not the government. I really want others to be good. I want at least six ‘Ahmef coming out from my institute one day,” he says.
Taking up cooking as a profession has really picked up in Dubai ; people are more interested in cooking now than they were ever before. When asked why that is so, Ahmed explained that 10 years ago, there was no respect for a cook or chef in Arab Today, however, the situation is different. Mostly because of the popular international competitive cooking show franchise MasterChef; it has made people realise the profession’s true potential. “You may replace a professional doctor or an engineer, but never a chef. He is the focal point of a respectable restaurant and if he is replaced the food doesn’t taste the same as the food people are coming to eat. For a real chef, there is always an opening in a local restaurant or a hotel,” he says.
Another thing that has changed over time is that the general public is now more aware and conscious about what they are eating. “You cannot make them eat anything and fool them anymore,” says the chef.
Ahmed philosophy is to create fresh, beautifully cooked, rich in taste foods and he has a huge fan following for it. “Our Arab culture is such that we yearn for and get delighted by mandi and masala in food. If it is bland, it is a flop; completely,” says Chef Ahmed He reveals that the most frequently asked recipes by his fans are that of different kinds of lentils and vegetable dishes as well as rice dishes, such as biryani and mandi,In the upper strata, people are more interested in finding out recipes for qorma and tikkas.
Photography by: Ahmed Darweesh