Mulberry Tavern at Hilton Doha The Pearl Residences offers a modern take on gastropub classics. We talk to the hotel’s Executive Chef, Thibaut Pouplard about the creation of his delicious comfort food.

Why did you decide to become a chef?
As a teenager, I was a sports lover. Once I finished college, my options for the future didn’t leave me with a lot of choices. Then my father told me that perhaps I should become a chef. I then started to work as a trainee for two. However, the origins of my love for food came from my grandmother, who was always cooking. She taught me during non-school days about food. Years later, I have had the chance to meet master chefs during my journey and grow my career.

Tell us a little bit about Hilton Doha The Pearl Residences and Mulberry Tavern and why you love to cook for them?
Hilton The Pearl is a new hotel, which opened its doors on December 18 2019 (the National Day of Qatar) and Mulberry Tavern arrived a little later. Like many restaurants, we had to close our doors during COVID 19. Still, this closure provided a golden opportunity for us to continue to improve, finalise, adjust, decorate, test and modify others details. I like to cook and create things from scratch and develop them day after day.

As a renowned chef, how important is it for you to be involved in projects such as this?
For me, it is always important to be involved in new projects like this because they are prototypes and provide me with the opportunity to express myself, create, design, cook, test and repeat. I get to have fun every day as if it were the first day of the job. But you have to question yourself all of the time to reach perfection, just like an actor, a comedian, and artist or sportsman. This is where the challenge becomes most enjoyable!

How do you source the ingredients for the restaurant? Do you focus on locally sourced or sustainable produce?
In every country and restaurant I have worked for in my career, the most important thing before you start work is to understand the country and culture. For this, my approach is to study the food culture locally, visit markets, anglers and learn from the local people. In terms of ingredients, the same ethos applies, and we source both local and sustainable products. When you use imported food, you don’t always know the true origin of each ingredient.

What was it about the cuisine at Mulberry Tavern that resonates so much with diners in Doha?
I don’t think it’s just the cuisine that resonates so much with diners in Doh. As a newly open restaurant, customers visit Mulberry Tavern out of curiosity and to taste dishes, enjoy the atmosphere and experience the music. After six months, these elements have made Mulberry an exciting new destination to experience at Doha the Pearl.

What is your favourite cuisine to cook?
I do not have a favourite cuisine as I am a food lover and I like to eat and cook all kinds of food. I love everything and can enjoy everything from a simple sandwich to a fine dining meal. I do not have any rules, as all food can provide a source of inspiration.

What do you do to stay current on new trends?
Social networking, reading, research and being in touch with other chefs.

How do you feel about creating dishes purely for Instagram?
I do not think that I create dishes for Instagram, but as a chef, we create dishes for our guests. Cooking is about creating emotion for our guests.

What is the greatest honour or compliment you have received as a chef?
I have received many compliments in my career, and it isn’t easy to choose. I have received very good compliments during the last 20 years. When I started this job, I did not even think that one day I could receive such compliments regarding all levels with my cooking.

What matters more – taste or presentation?
Both are important. The first step is the presentation and the visual represents a key point for your eyes (and mobile phone). Once you’ve taken that Instagram picture, it’s time to taste.

Do you have any quick advice for young budding chefs?
Cooking is a wonderful profession. Every day is as fresh as the first day. Every day when I come into work, I come as if it was the first day.
The best motivation is to cook fresh, quality and seasonal food. When you cook this food, you cannot get tired of it. I’d advise any budding chefs to work relentlessly and always to enjoy things. Describe your culinary philosophy.My culinary philosophy revolves around freshness, simplicity, the balance of colour and bringing out the authentic flavour of the ingredients.

If you could dine at any restaurant in the world, where would you go?
I have had the chance to travel a lot and discover many restaurants in my life. I do not have a specific restaurant that I would like to dine at. The best is still the hometown and the food of my family.

What is the inspiration behind the menu at Mulberry Tavern?
The inspiration comes from all my experiences and the dishes that I taste and have eaten in the past. I also draw inspiration from the ingredients that are imported, but above all local culture. From there, I start to create and design menus and dishes.

How often do you eat out and what is your favourite restaurant in Doha?
I eat out three or four times a week, but I don’t judge or have a favourite place. As a food lover, I’d give a special mention to Isaan Thai Restaurant (Grand Hyatt), Zengo Restaurant (Kempinski Residence) and of course Mulberry Tavern!

What can diners expect to taste and enjoy when dining at Mulberry Tavern what are some of the signature dishes that you serve?
Diners who visit Mulberry Tavern can expect gastropub cuisine inspired by my travels but also the classic pub cuisine. Our signature dishes vary according to the customers; some like to stay classic with our Fish and Chips, while others like to venture away from tradition with the Octopus served with ravigote sauce. Our customers like to share and our cold cuts are specially customised and prepared for us from Italy alongside our artisan cheese selection. A must to try dish at Mulberry Tavern and one to end the meal with a sweet touch is the Mulberry Cheesecake with cream cheese, mulberries, crumble and pears.

Are there any current promotions we should know about at Mulberry Tavern?
The Brunch runs every Friday and Saturday and our weekend roasts.

Who do you admire most in the culinary world, and why?
I admire all chefs worldwide, as we are a big family and creators of emotions. Eating is a mandatory and straightforward element of our lives. We can gain admiration. My inspirations include everyone from my grandmother to world-class chefs such as Alain Passard and Mauro Colagreco.

With the rise of influencers and bloggers, what are your options on this new digital world where everyone has suddenly become a food critic?
I don’t feel affected by this new generation of social networks because I’m also a participant and player of Instagram. Everyone has become a food critic and this has both a positive and a negative side. From a critical standpoint, I’d like to quote the words of artist Salvador Dali, who said: “Criticism is a sublime thing. She is worthy only of geniuses. ✤