Join us as we uncover the secrets behind Chef Fadi Hakim's culinary journey, his passion for gastronomy, and the tantalizing authentic flavors that await discerning diners at Al Jazeerah Signature Bali in this exclusive interview.
Hailing from Lebanon, Chef Fadi Hakim has amassed a remarkable career spanning prestigious global brand resorts across the Gulf, including renowned establishments like Marriott Beirut and Grand Hyatt Dubai. Notably, he also served as the esteemed Executive Chef for the King of Bahrain from 2008 to 2019, showcasing his exceptional culinary expertise at the highest level. Before gracing the culinary scene of Bali, Chef Fadi's talents were also sought after during the World Cup 2023 event in Qatar, where he curated sumptuous feasts for illustrious national teams such as Argentina, England, and Portugal.
With his profound understanding of Middle Eastern and Lebanese cuisine, Chef Fadi brings a wealth of knowledge and a touch of his own creative flair to Al Jazeerah Signature Bali, promising an unforgettable dining experience that merges tradition with innovation. Join us as we uncover the secrets behind his culinary journey, his passion for gastronomy, and the tantalizing authentic flavors that await discerning diners at Al Jazeerah Signature Bali in this exclusive interview.
What initially sparked your passion for cooking, and how has that passion evolved throughout your culinary journey?
My passion for cooking ignited at a young age, and I clearly recall the transformative moment when I successfully crafted my first omelet. It was a spark that ignited within me. Fuelled by this passion, I embarked on a remarkable culinary journey that led me to pursue my education at one of Beirut's most prestigious cooking schools. Graduating in 1998 marked the beginning of an unwavering commitment to my craft, as I wholeheartedly immersed myself in the world of culinary excellence. Cooking is not merely a profession for me; it is a profound love affair between myself and the art of food. This bond remains today, guiding me on a continuous quest to explore flavors, innovate, and share my culinary creations with the world.
Al Jazeerah is known for its fine dining experience. How do you ensure that the overall dining experience, including the ambiance and service, complements your exceptional culinary offerings in its Bali establishment?
At Al Jazeerah Signature Bali establishment, we ensure that the overall dining experience, including the ambiance and service, harmoniously complements our exceptional culinary offerings. In a fine dining restaurant, guests come to sit and savor their food, and it is my duty as the chef to meticulously check each dish before it is served on their table. We understand that food quality and hygiene are paramount, and we take great pride in selecting only the finest ingredients while maintaining the highest standards of cleanliness and safety.
"Cooking is not merely a profession for me; it is a profound love affair between myself and the art of food."
As the Executive Chef at Al Jazeerah Signature Bali, how do you foster a collaborative and creative work environment among your culinary team? How do you encourage them to contribute their ideas and expertise?
As the executive chef, I foster a collaborative and creative work environment among my culinary team through teamwork, open communication, and ongoing training. By instilling a shared vision and goals, we encourage mutual support and unity. I believe that the kitchen is not for a 'one-man show'. I highly value each of my team's expertise and actively seek their input, creating a safe space for their ideas and innovation. This inclusive approach unlocks the full potential of our team, resulting in exceptional culinary creations and a memorable dining experience at Al Jazeerah Signature Bali.
Is there a specific ingredient or cooking technique that you find particularly fascinating or enjoy working with the most? What draws you to it?
There is a captivating world of Middle East-based spices and authentic Lebanese recipes that I have the privilege of working with during my career. What draws me to these ingredients is the rich tapestry of flavors they bring to each dish. It is the harmonious fusion of aromatic spices, like sumac, cumin, and cardamom, that create a symphony of taste and transport diners to the vibrant streets of the Middle East. Combining these spices with the culinary traditions of the Gulf region adds another layer of complexity and depth to our dishes. It is the essence of these Middle East spices and the authenticity they bring that truly captivates me and inspires my culinary creations at Al Jazeerah Signature Bali.
Could you share with us the signature dish that you have introduced at Al Jazeerah Signature Bali? What inspired this dish, and what unique elements does it bring to the menu?
Our menu boasts a standout signature dish that encapsulates the essence of Arabic culinary philosophy. Inspired by the rich heritage of Middle-East cuisine, we present a magnificent offering: a generous tray brimming with a delightful combination of rice and grills, reminiscent of traditional Arabic-style dining. This creation showcases our dedication to authenticity and exceptional flavors. Among the highlights is our succulent Lamb Chop, expertly roasted and infused with aromatic Arabic spices and herbs, accompanied by Rateb bread for an added touch of tradition. Additionally, our Chicken Malbi steals the spotlight with its tender roasted chicken meat served alongside Rateb bread, drizzled with honey and Tahina paste for a tantalizing blend of sweet and savory. It is an absolute must-try, representing the unique elements and culinary excellence that Al Jazeerah Signature Bali is renowned for.
"At Al Jazeerah Signature Bali, we ensure that the overall dining experience, including the ambiance and service, harmoniously complements our exceptional culinary offerings."
You mentioned your interest in presenting old-day and traditional recipes with new-world food presentation and fine dining touches. Could you share an example of a dish or formula where you incorporated these elements successfully?
Al Jazeerah Signature Bali gives me total freedom to craft my own rendition of authentic Middle-Eastern dishes. Here, I can truly blend the essence of old-day and traditional recipes with new-world food presentation and fine dining touches. One exemplary type of dish that perfectly embodies this harmonious fusion is our selection of charcoal-grilled grills. Embracing the age-old Arabic cooking method of charcoal grilling, we infuse each dish with an incredible smoky flavor that harks back to tradition. The use of charcoal imparts a unique depth and complexity to our grills, elevating them to new heights of culinary excellence. The succulent meats, expertly prepared and seared over charcoal, are then beautifully presented with modern and artistic plating techniques.
You expressed your goal of publishing your own cooking book in the future. What type of cuisine or recipes would you like to showcase in your book, and how would you make it unique and appealing to readers?
As a Lebanese native with 15 years of extensive experience crafting culinary masterpieces in esteemed resorts around the gulf, it is my dream to publish a cooking book that is fueled by my passion for authentic Arabic and Middle Eastern cuisine. In this book, I aspire to showcase a curated collection of traditional recipes infused with my own unique touch. From tantalizing mezzes and aromatic stews to delectable desserts and refreshing beverages, each page will transport readers on a journey through the rich flavors, spices, and techniques that define Arabic and Middle Eastern gastronomy. What sets this book apart is not only its celebration of time-honored recipes but also the inclusion of my personal culinary insights and tips, empowering readers to recreate these iconic dishes.
The work of a chef can be demanding and stressful at times. How do you personally manage stress during your bustling daily activity?
Indeed, the culinary world can be demanding and fast-paced, often placing chefs under intense pressure. But personally, I have found solace and resilience in my unwavering passion for cooking. The act of creating exquisite and safe food for my guests is not only a source of joy but also a powerful stress reliever. It fuels me with a sense of purpose and fulfillment, reminding me why I chose this path in the first place. However, I also recognize the importance of self-care and strive to strike a healthy work-life balance. Taking breaks and occasionally engaging in activities outside the kitchen that my mind and body, such as exercise or spending quality time with loved ones, helps me recharge and refocus. This makes me even better equipped to manage stress, bring my best self to the kitchen, and find harmony between my professional and personal life.