Ali Gharib, Executive Chef at AlRayyan Hotel Doha, Curio Collection by Hilton talks culinary passion and home cooking.

You have more than 20 years of culinary experience, what inspired you to go into this unique profession?
It’s something I’ve always wanted to do, I studied IT at university but I’ve always loved food, in fact I am in love with food! I adore identifying spices and herbs. I am also very fussy when it comes to food. I had too many bad experiences in restaurants, I found too many mistakes. I didn’t enjoy eating out. So, I began working in a hotel kitchen and then a pastry shop in Lebanon.

Since joining AlRayyan Hotel Doha, you’ve been redesigning menus for Mezzo Restaurant, Moda Lounge, in-room dining, events and outside catering. What new changes can we look forward to?
We recently launched a new Mezzo menu, which is a preview of our new à la carte menu. There’s a new brunch menu too, which will feature live-cooking stations and a fresh pasta station, which we put in a Parmigiano cheese wheel. We’re also expanding our breakfast menu to include some international crowd pleasers. There will also be some local specialities like Balaleet, which is saffron-scented vermicelli topped with cardamom-scented eggs!

Is there a dish that is a personal favourite of yours and what is your signature dish?
I love seafood, so the Octopus Capaccio is my favourite dish on the menu. It has a very distinctive texture and great flavours of the sea, without being too overpowering. I introduced it on the menu because it’s my favourite and it’s a distinguished addition. My signature dish is the Lamb Freekeh, because I love lamb. This is a popular meal that is still made in my home town, so it’s very special to me. I have a personal connection to this dish as my mum used to make this for me when I was growing up.

When you’re not busy in the kitchens, how do you like to relax in Qatar?
I’ve only been in Qatar for a few months, so I am still discovering the country and local flavours. But I love the beautiful beach scenery. After a long day I also like to talk to my daughters in Lebanon and make time for my family. I also enjoy listening to classical French music to unwind on my days off. ✤