Popular Chef Manal Al-Alem participated in the exciting Dubai Food Festival (DFF) 2016 – a citywide culinary celebration which runs from 25 February until 12 March under the theme 'Celebrate Taste'.
One of the signature events of DFF this year – Dine with the Stars saw Chef Manal Al-Alem create a specially crafted three-course menu and share personal stories about her passion for cooking for food aficionados in the region.
Ms Alem spoke with The Times Kuwait about her love for cooking and what it means to represent Kuwait at DFF.
What inspired and encouraged you choose this hobby?
It is my hobby which I live and enjoy every day. What inspired me to adopt this hobby is my love for sharing recipes with others, when you have a hobby that you love, of course you will look for enthusiasts like yourself, and that's what brings me together with all my beloved audience who love cooking just like me.
What was the first dish you prepared and made you proud of your achievement?
I can't really remember what my first dish was. But as a kid, I remember that the housekeeping teacher taught us who to make pasta and I rushed at the time to my mother asking her if she allow me to make pasta; of course she helped me. Until now, I remember the words of praise that I have heard from my mom, dad and my sisters.
What are your favorite dishes of Kuwaiti cuisine? What are your favorite food in Kuwait in general?
"Mutabbaq Zubeidi" is of course my favorite dish, and I think that everyone one also loves this famous dish. As for my favorite food in Kuwait, of course they are "Harise" in Ramadan, samosa and "Sub El Qafsha", I also love "Almrkoq" and "Meat Majabus".
What is your philosophy when it comes to cooking and food?
My philosophy is cooking with love and passion. That love transfers to everyone who eats my dishes when they prepare them in their kitchens and feel my love for them. It will make them happy and also makes me happy
What is the type or style of cooking which you follow?
If we talk about cooking technique I always like to simmering or baking food and flipping it before cooking, it helps to closing the external pores of the food, which keeps in juices and flavor inside. After that I complement the cooking steps according to each recipe.
Can you describe the ideal meal from your perspective?
Ideal meal that does not take a long time in preparing, so it retains its nutritional value in the best way.
What are your future plans?
Currently, I’m working on a study of restaurant where I present my dishes to my beloved audience. I'm also planning to establish a private television channel, where we spread many important messages that we need for the development of the Arab family.
What was the last book you issued?
Eastern sweets from the Manal Al Alem’s kitchen.
What are the main reasons for the success of celebrity chefs?
Precision and perfection and also good communication with the audience.
What are the main tips you would provide to anyone thinking of becoming a famous chef?
Making sure to learn from renowned chefs, because cooking has its own secrets. They also must work sincerely, put great effort, constantly strive to develop and not to retreat or be affected by criticism. Criticisms are opportunities for improvement and development.
Who is your role model?
Many chefs are my role model, I find something special in every person and in every profession. I always try to learn and add more skills acquired from each of them.
What do you think the food culture and the variety of cuisine around the world these days?
This diversity is very beautiful, it’s a wonderful opportunity to get to know the tastes of different Nations, but we have to pick what we eat carefully and know exactly the Contents of the dishes we eat in order to maintain the nutritional balance, diversity of cuisines and restaurants is a useful tour that you take without leaving your country.
What is the nature of your participation and activities within the Dubai Food Festival 2016?
It seems that I have a lot of participations that will satisfy all cooking lovers, my fans will try a meal from my kitchen at "the dining with the stars" event at the Armani Hotel. Cooking enthusiasts can attend exclusive cooking courses, which I will present in several places in Dubai, and there is a direct cooking show to the fans at the beach. There will also be is a wonderful experience for my beloved audience during my tour in the global village to savor the distinctive traditional cuisines there.