Keeping it very real about all the things in life, Jenny Morris had FACT’s Anushay Taimur Khan sit in awe with her incredible stories of her journey and experiences over the years…
Welcome back to Doha! Qatar seems to absolutely love you – and rightly so! What is the new/different experience that you take away from this city?
Doha has become so modern now. I see that there is a different mindset here now, especially amongst the women here, which is absolutely amazing to experience. I feel like women here are becoming more empowered and it is delightful to see women being celebrated this way.
You’ve got a list of royals and celebrities that you’ve cooked for – which was your favourite menu to create and for who?
I’ve cooked for a lot of presidents, Prince Charles, and the list can go on. For me, it was an absolute pleasure to cook for President Thabo Mbeki because he is real and has his feet on the ground, and he simply eats beautiful, plain, unadulterated good wholesome food. So, I remember that this one time I was serving him and I was in the kitchen, watching him through a screen and that man was relishing every single thing on the plate. I remember that he had had a wobbly experience from the food in Japan on their recent trip and didn’t trust me as much to begin with. But once they started eating, it was something to see them enjoy the food so much!
When you say you give a ‘modern twist’ to your traditional dishes, what is the ‘magic ingredient’ you incline towards the most? And how has it been catering to the locals of Doha with your cuisine?
I do not like food that is over engineered and touched a thousand times to manipulated to suit the western palette. I love good creative food, but if I am in a country, I need to be able to relate to those that I am catering to. Food has to be creative and if there is one thing that I like to do every time that I travel, it is to embrace the culture of the country that I am in. My approach towards different people is to look at what are the ingredients and spices that a particular region is used to. I take their traditional elements and just mix it with a new format. So, it’s all about giving them back what they already know and recognize but just with my twist to it. The locals have been so acceptive of the dishes that I experiment with that my experience with Doha has been incredible.
Judging, radio, television – you’re a media guru! How do you unwind on a typical day off?
I love to cook for my family! Technology has allowed me to practice everything so easily that I just send a WhatsApp to my husband once I’m wrapping up work to get everything ready on the table when I get home so that I can come back and cook for him. I’m a nurturer, it comes from within. I come from a family where we were not served food without a minimum of three dishes on the table. I do the same thing today; I simply cook a number of dishes and decorate the entire table! I want to see everything that I make, I love to feel the textures, look at the colours and then cook – it is so soothing for me to do this. It’s just a way of showing love to my family.
We know that your love for cooking comes from your parents. Who is the one chef you look up to or are inspired by?
Reza Muhammed and Rick Stein are the two people that I absolutely love. Reza, who is an Indian chef, and I have been good friends for over 16 years now, during which we even had a cooking show together! I admire how knowledgeable and humble he is. This is one guy who I truly believe deserves to be a diva but he most certainly is not. Everything that he does, he does it himself and I have massive respect for that. I’ve grown up with the flavour of Indian cuisine where I learned everything from my neighbours and community and I feel like Reza is just so good at what he does! Rick is an English chef who reminds me of myself actually. His passion comes first which is all about good, wholesome ingredients. He celebrates what is around him and he gives credit to people who strive and work hard. It doesn’t even matter if it is another chef or not, he is all about being genuine. And that is what I personally like in people. I cannot stand superficial people and I only surround myself with real people – and Rick Stein is one of them. These are two people that I have immense respect for. They have absolutely no ego and their feet are firmly in the ground. They’re just good people who love their food very passionately.
Even though you got your name ‘The Giggling Gourmet’ from radio, we just love your memes on social media! How do you feel the digital age has given exposure to your business?
Social media is an incredible thing! Everything in instant now; in the good and bad sense. I have my radio show which also serves this purpose but with the digital age, I can instantly interact with people and I love that. ✤
Jenny Morris’ new show ‘From The Heart’ will be showing in Fatafeat on Sundays starting 12th January, 2020. This is the first show that Jenny is doing on Fatafeat and she will be featured alongside existing line-up of popular chefs on the region’s leading Arabic food channel.