Culinary Balancing Act

The Westin and Le Méridien City Centre Bahrain’s Complex Executive Chef, Mohammad Issa Ibrahim Ali, gives a glimpse into his busy daily routine and shares his culinary accomplishments and his favourite ingredient.

Welcome to Bahrain and congratulations on your new position. You have an all-encompassing role of overseeing various outlets and leading a team of 60 chefs. Can you tell us what your average day looks like?
As Complex Executive Chef of two hotels, my day is dynamic and demanding. I need to balance my creative, managerial and operational tasks to ensure a seamless and high-quality dining experience. My day often starts early, around 7am or 8am. I review all the daily orders and deliver them to ensure everything has arrived and is of good quality, as well as conduct a morning briefing with the kitchen staff, outlining the day’s tasks, specials and any important information. I also participate in the cooking process, especially for complex or signature dishes, and ensure they meet the restaurant’s standards. Then at 6pm, I start planning for the next day’s service, including any special orders or events.

You’ve won several accolades, including hospitality awards and international culinary competitions. Which of these are you most proud of and what makes it special?
Yes, I’ve received many medals from Gulfood, UAE, and I won the Best Chef of the Year 2019 at the Hospitality Excellence Awards in the UAE. In 2019, I also participated in a halal food competition in Istanbul and won two gold medals. I was very proud of this achievement because I was representing my country, Jordan, at the event.

What’s your favourite ingredient to work with and why?
I like fresh produce; it gives a strong flavour to any dish. I like fish as well – it always tastes good when it is fresh.

What is your signature dish and what makes it special?
My signature dish is Beef Cheek with Scalloped Potatoes. It’s special because the dish requires a unique cooking technique and takes more than eight hours to cook in a sous vide machine. ✤