Eko Ridwan Zulfikar, Executive Chef at Morimoto – Mondrian Doha, chats with FACT about origins, what drives his inspiration and one ingredient that makes Asian an outstanding cuisine.

Do you remember the first time you prepared something in the kitchen and knew this was your calling?
It was an absolute joy when I first started in the kitchen, blending many flavours to make a dish, and presenting it in so many versatile ways. The cooking technique and process was always the challenging part of my career, but I loved the creativity of flavours from day one.
These challenges have significantly contributed to developing my passion for food every day, since I had to highly focus on my skills in the kitchen while being guided by the chef, to craft beautiful creations, perfecting each recipe, every step of the way.

With Asian-inspired cuisine becoming more prevalent throughout the industry, where do you find flavour inspiration to elevate your dishes and make them stand out amongst the crowd?
I first learnt from my mother the art of Asian cuisine and its distinguished flavours, as well as the very specific cooking techniques particular to this cuisine. It was amazing to watch her prepare food after I came home from school. In my home country, we have so many cultural celebrations that are centred around food, spanning the variety of Asian flavours including Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Singaporean and Malaysian.
Throughout my journey, and from my extensive travels to different countries, I developed a particular interest in local Asian street food, which was an inspiration for me to develop my palate and to recreate traditional recipes with a modern twist.
I aligned my concepts with the market trends, I visited some of the most popular Asian restaurants in town and developed my own style and creations.
Asia and the Middle East are exciting destinations for me to work in as I still have a lot of potential to unleash. It is also easy for me to source refined and quality ingredients from these destinations, while I focus on creating unique dishes and offering our guests exceptional flavours with every dining experience. I am excited to see what comes next!

Can you share with us your signature dish or style and what makes it special to you?
Black Cod with Miso has been my favourite dish for a long time, as I really enjoy the texture of the subtle yet salty flavour of the cod contrasted by the sweetness of the miso. When prepared with mastery, this dish really is an all-time classic that guests can enjoy in Morimoto Doha.

What’s that one ingredient that makes Asian an outstanding cuisine and devises the entire flavour?
The majority of Asian countries strongly use garlic and onions as the base of their dishes, in addition to herbs and spices such as lemon grass, kaffir lime leaf, shisho leaf, wasabi, galangal, turmeric, nutmeg, coriander and even curry leaf.
But, in my opinion, the best ingredient is the passion that comes from people who make the dish from their hearts. ✤