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United Arab Emirates: first female chef promotes Emirati culture through food – News

Chef Khulood Atiq collaborated with Abu Dhabi Ministry of Culture and Tourism to promote local cuisine

Posted: Fri Nov 26, 2021, 10:29 AM

Last update: Fri Nov 26, 2021, 10:31 AM

For chef Khulood Atiq, the art of cooking traditional Emirati dishes are lessons passed on to him by the elders of the family. And today, the UAE’s first female chef actively promotes local cuisine with a lot of heart and passion.

“Cooking has always been a big part of my life. I was inspired by the strong women in my family – my mom, grandmother and aunts – who grew up watching them cook beautiful meals in the kitchen. . Just by watching, I learned so many skills and techniques that I still apply today. “

“Since the age of eight I have loved cooking for my whole family – always adding a pinch of love to my dishes. I was everyone’s favorite cook at home, everyone wanted to taste my food over and over again. “


It was in 2006 that she noticed that almost no Emirati food was available in the tourism industry.

“You could usually only find Emirati food cooked at home or in restaurants to be delivered during the holidays. Usually, tourists were seen being served a mixture of Arabic and Indian cuisines masquerading as “local food”. I wanted tourists to experience authentic Emirati cuisine. So I started to create it and cook it. “

It was the encouragement of his older brother that marked a turning point in his life.

“After deciding to quit college, he asked me why. I told him that my chosen field of study was not satisfying my passions, so I decided to quit. asked me what I think I would like to do most, and for me there was only one answer: “cook”.

“Although I was concerned about the level of effort to study to reach an expert level. His response was simple: “As long as you have the talent and the passion, you can do it. You can be one of the reasons to spread our Emirati Culture and Food among UAE residents and visitors. ‘ His words of encouragement at that time were the reason I decided to follow my passion. “

When asked why in the UAE there weren’t a lot of Emirati food shops, she replied, “The main reason is that the Emirates usually eat traditional food at home. So when they go out, they look for other cuisines. Another reason was that we weren’t that many Emirati chefs who considered cooking as a career. I think the Emiratis should be the ones who create and promote their authentic dishes. Instead, we have people of different nationalities cooking Emirati dishes in their unique style – which is great, but the taste is different from what we cook at home. Today we can see that is changing with the increasing number of Emirati restaurants and new local chefs on board every day. “

She collaborated with the Abu Dhabi Ministry of Culture and Tourism to promote local dishes.

“My collaboration with DCT – Emirati Cuisine Program Abu Dhabi began when I wanted to introduce Emirati cuisine to tourists in restaurants and hotels in Abu Dhabi. We started with four and five star hotels around Abu Dhabi, and it was an incredible success. Soon many other hotels came to see us and enrolled their chefs in our training centers. Due to the demand, we realized that it would be more efficient and convenient for the chefs if we went to their home, and that’s when we successfully started to provide training at Abu Hotels in Dabi on a schedule. “

Khulood has promoted Emirati cuisine throughout his career in hotels, participating in local and international events, TV cooking shows, writing a book “Sararid” and organizing training sessions for chef in hotels.

“I started my career with a clear emphasis on traditional cooking, but more recently I have been working on adding flavors, moving from pure traditional cooking to fusion. I love so many Emirati dishes but if I had to choose just five they would be maleh, balaleet, makbous, muhalla bread and thereed. I believe Emirati cuisine is full of delicious flavors and rich in ingredients and spices. The unique spices we use, our Emirati spice blend, differ between each family’s recipes, some having secret ingredients that are not shared with others. It’s his specialty, the personal touch. “

Reflecting on her experience switching from an abaya to a chef’s jacket, she said: “Everyone thought I couldn’t take the pressure because I was an Emirati chef, let alone a woman standing in cooking among male colleagues, wearing a chef’s coat instead of an abaya. People thought I wouldn’t be able to endure the long hours or the pressure of cooking, but thanks to the support of my family, who m motivated to accomplish my mission and support my country, I succeeded. I am proud to say that despite the initial challenges, I noticed that people’s perceptions changed once they saw how I was engaged and how I became a role model for other Emirati leaders. “

Khulood, also a mother, has learned to maintain a work-life balance, and her family prefers traditional cuisine to creative fusion dishes.

“My family loves traditional dishes which may belong to different cuisines but which keep the identity of each cuisine.”

Khulood, an ambassador of local cuisine, has a lot more to do to spread awareness of Emirati culture and heritage, especially to the younger generation through food.

“I will continue to educate myself and explore new methods. I am currently working on finishing the second part of my book ‘Sararid’ and, an Emirati food guide which will be released soon. I will participate in culinary exhibitions and international events and , with UNESCO, working on documentation of Emirati cuisine to teach students at universities and academies. In the long term, I hope to open my own restaurant and establish a culinary school to teach Emirati cooking techniques to future generations .

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