Chef of the Week: Ziyad Mohamed Ramadhan Al Balushi of the Chedi, Muscat
We’re super thrilled to feature Omani Chef Ziyad Mohamed Ramadhan Al Balushi.
Chef Ziyad Mohamed is a Junior Sous Chef at the Chedi, an exquisite resort in Muscat, Oman’s capital city.
1. What inspired you to become a chef?
When I was still a young boy, my uncle used to take me along when he was cooking for various functions so it became a hobby and later a passion and profession.
2. Where did you train to cook?
At the Intercontinental, Holiday Inn, Cave Restaurant and The Chedi Muscat in Oman.
3. Tell us a bit about Omani cuisine? What makes it special and what are the top Omani dishes we absolutely need to try out?
Fish, chicken, lamb and beef as well as rice dishes are very popular. Don’t miss out trying the following dishes when visiting Oman:
- Shuwa, a traditional dish made from lamb, beef or camel, cooked in a underground pit.
- Majboos, which means ‘to be engaged’ and is served at special occasions like weddings or engagements.
- Omani Halva, a sweet delicacy with various flavors like cardamon, saffron, rosewater, nuts; a must when in Oman.
- Dates, Oman has over 250 varieties of dates
- Kahwa, freshly roasted coffee with cardamon, cloves and saffron – a great accompaniment to Omani Halwa and dates.
Traditional Way of Cooking Lamb (Must Watch Video)
4. What do you regard as the quintessential Omani ingredient?
A local product that I use frequently in our menus and especially in soups and stews is the Omani lime.
Like all acid substances, lime enhances the natural flavour of food and imparts an acidic taste to foods in a natural way. The Omani lime is actually a sun-dried lime. It tastes sour and citrusy but also earthy and somewhat smoky and lacks the sweetness of fresh limes.
5. Tells us a bit about the food scene in Oman. How often do people eat out, how competitive it is (e.g. number of restaurants) and what foods (local, international) do they prefer?
The food scene in Oman is truly international. The best restaurants in Oman are located within 5 star hotels. People dine out frequently and enjoy having special meals created just for them.
6. Tell us about your work at your restaurant? What is the concept and what was the inspiration for the menu?
I’m working as a Junior Sous Chef in the Arabic Kitchen. The concept is four open show kitchens serving Middle Eastern, Western, Indian and Asian Cuisine. The inspiration for the menu was traditional Arabic cuisine with some contemporary overtones.
7. What’s the most popular item on the menu?
Kingfish, grilled, preserved lemon chermoula, tahini sauce, saffron rice.
8. What sets a top chef apart from the pack?
Being disciplined, having a decent palate and most of all being passionate about the job.
9. Do you have a signature dish or a favorite dish that you enjoy cooking?
I love to cook Shuwa in our custom-made underground pit at The Serai Pool at The Chedi Muscat. We use New Zealand lamb shoulder seasoned in a secret spice paste wrapped in mountain leaves, slow cooked for 24 hours on charcoal from Omani Smur wood.
10. Do you follow food trends? If so, what is the top trend for 2020 and what’s next for 2021 and onwards?
As people are becoming more mindful and conscious of their dietary habits, sustainable and organic food options are still on the rise. There is a growing trend for dishes created with local ingredients and cuisines offering plant-based dishes. At The Chedi Muscat, we are carefully selecting our ingredients and offer a wide variety.
Our menus are influenced by regionally grown vegetables, salads, herbs and spices and we have increased our meat-free options from vegetarian to vegan and are more than happy to “custom design” the menus to the guest’s dietary restrictions.
11. What advice would you give someone who wants to become a successful chef?
Be disciplined! Treat your team like your family. Be fair and humble. The most essential ingredients for a perfect menu are:Chef Ziyad Mohamed Ramadhan Al Balushi
1. Freshest Ingredients
2. Simple Preparation
3. Diligent Execution And, love what you do!