As Coya Doha opens its doors this February, FACT’s Chirine Halabi gets behind its kitchen doors for a litle insight on the chef and what to expect in this luxury dining experience.

Risen from the Peruvian Andes to the Amazon rainforest, COYA’s reputation for being the ultimate luxury dining destination combined with the W Doha Hotel and Residences’ unmatched standard of providing phenomenal guest experiences, will raise the bar for signature hospitality and culinary brilliance in Qatar. Hence, we got together with Executive Chef Hasan Kayabasi to talk about him, the restaurant, and most importantly the food.

Inspirations come in many shapes and forms, what inspired you to become a chef?
My neighbour ran a pastry business, and I began to help him in the kitchen at the mere age of 10 years. He was my inspiration for wanting to learn more about food and to develop my skills; pushing me to attend culinary school in 2005 and really turn my passion into a full-time commitment. This passion led me to my big break when I was recruited by a 5-star hotel in Turkey, which further built my foundation and honed future developments in learning diferent cuisines and topping my skillset.

This will be your grand debut as the Chef De Cuisine, how have your past roles prepared you for this position?
I have never been in a rush to climb up the professional ladder, I like achievements to come naturally in their due time. I have patiently built my experience and knowledge working at various restaurants with diferent cuisines and concepts. All while working alongside experienced chefs throughout this journey.

With your vast experience, how many cuisines have you mastered, and which one holds a special place in your heart? Besides Peruvian of course.
I have experienced working with Mediterranean, Anatolian, French Asian, and Pan-Asian, but I would say I have mastered the Mediterranean cuisine.

How many restaurants have you worked in so far?
Coya Doha will be my 15th restaurant.

When are you happiest at work?
I find happiness in what I do; when I am at my busiest and my restaurant is bustling with happy and satisfied customers.

Being a chef requires long odd hours, what is the longest you’ve been in the kitchen?
24 hours straight – we had catering events and I stayed on duty for 24 hours to ensure all clients received everything as per their expectation, I wanted to support the team as much as I could.

In addition to your career, what other important thing has made you happy?
Spending quality time with my family and friends, particularly the quality time when dining out with my wife. We’re both chefs, so we prefer to keep the cooking at work and go out to eat.

There has been a huge boom in Peruvian cuisine these past years, what is your take on that and on Peruvian hybrid cuisines such as Nikkei?
I believe that the cuisines exposure is still fairly recent and there is a lot more to experience and experiment with. As far as inspiration cuisines such as Nikkei, Peruvian cuisine is inspired by many different cultures Japanese, Chinese, African, and Spanish. Nikkei is a little more inspired by Japanese cuisine, but the Peruvian favours always shine through.

How would you say COYA Doha differs from other Peruvian restaurants in Doha, what makes it special?
COYA is a complete experience that enchants and challenges all your senses. The design in COYA was meticulously chosen to transport guests on a multi-dimensional journey through the look, feel, and Latin American energy; the music playing a key role in creating our dynamic atmosphere. This is complemented with art inspired by Martin Chambi, Peru’s most celebrated photographer. We’re proud to own a collection of his work that’s as fresh and surprising as it was over a hundred years ago. From the warmth of the staf to the exquisite food and drink, to the beautiful carved and bespoke furniture, COYA is a truly unique experience.

COYA Doha is an enchanting ultimate luxury dining experience, what’s your favourite part of the restaurant, as well as your favourite dish?
The Pisco Lounge with its vibrant colours, and exotic favours from our Pisco library, and the unique sound of our DJs and live bands. Its energy takes you back to the streets of Lima. It’s hard to choose just one but if I had to choose I would say the Arroz Nikkei.

In your opinion, what is the most underrated kitchen equipment or gadget?
Sharpening Steel – which is used to sharpen my knife sets. This for me is the most important tool I need for my work.

What would people be most surprised to learn about you?
My age, I am 28 years old.

Which one thing do you wish home cooks knew how to do well in the kitchen?
Knife Skills.

Now for the most important question, chocolate or vanilla?
Vanilla – for sure! ✤