Tony El Khoury – Oriental Speciality Chef at Four Seasons Hotel Bahrain Bay shares his culinary secrets.
You come from a family of chefs; how did they inspire you to choose a career in the kitchen?
To me, food is never only food. Food is heritage and it is a shared memory connecting people. Cooking is a form of art where you need to continuously develop your skills and perform true craftsmanship. Sharing a meal with friends or family can transport us to another time, place or memory. I started watching my beloved ones preparing the richest dishes at an early age, which inspired me to start helping them and learning from them. Then, this turned into a passion for me, and I decided to build my career by becoming a professional chef. I worked for restaurants; catering companies, where I catered for significant corporate events and hotels. They all had different dynamics, which taught me a lot about becoming the chef I am today.
What has been the greatest learning experience of your career so far?
One of my most significant learning points has been discovering that to be a successful chef, one needs to maintain a perfect balance of several aspects and improve many skills simultaneously. Authenticity, creativity, artistry, attention to detail, fast-paced decision-making, self-motivation, organisational skills, culinary expertise and the list goes on.
What is your signature dish, how is it prepared and what do you believe makes it popular?
My signature dish, which can be the star of every table, is the mixed grill. It is the perfect example of showing that combining fresh ingredients with the correct technique can be an alltime favourite. The highest quality of meat, lamb, chicken and chops are marinated in the Lebanese style, charcoal-grilled and served on a mini grill with charcoal to keep the skewers hot. It is assorted with grilled vegetables, saffron rice, garlic sauce and fresh hot bread from our oven. It is a feast both on the eyes and the palate.
What are the three ingredients you always have in your kitchen? And why?
I always use the best and freshest ingredients and seasonal products; that is the first principle for delivering a flavourful and healthy dish. Spices like sweet pepper powder, cumin, white pepper, coriander powder and cinnamon are essential ingredients for my recipes. I also like using a couple of pine seeds on top to finish some of my dishes, as they add an earthy and nutty flavour. ✤