CHEFS

The Al­ge­rian hip-hop artist turned celebrity chef Rabah Ourrad is the cre­ative mind be­hind the menu at new Beirut con­cept, Dirty Laun­dry. Here, he talks push­ing boundaries, chan­nel­ing pas­sion and the power of a sim­ple salad

Hospitality News Middle East - - CONTENTS - Dirty-laun­dry.me

Chefs work­ing to­day need to rec­og­nize that a plate is a blank can­vas for cre­at­ing some­thing with a wow fac­tor. Cus­tomers also want to be served fresh, lo­cal pro­duce and to be sur­prised by tex­ture and taste.

On com­ing to Beirut and Dirty Laun­dry’s menu… I’d dreamt of com­ing to Beirut as I love the Mid­dle Eastern cul­ture and have a lot of Le­banese friends. I re­ally loved the city, es­pe­cially the mix of oc­ci­dent and ori­ent. I wanted the style of cook­ing to be in­stinc­tive and fo­cused on lo­cal in­gre­di­ents, so spent time eat­ing out, es­pe­cially street food. The menu fea­tures lo­cal prod­ucts, such as wild thyme, 'za’atar', 'kataife' and lo­cal av­o­cado, but I also in­cor­po­rated ideas from my North African her­itage and trav­els. Dishes in­clude Beef Cheeks, Prawn Ce­viche and Spinach Risotto.

On mov­ing from hip-hop to cook­ing… As a teenager grow­ing up in Al­ge­ria in the 1990s, rap­ping for me was a way of mak­ing a po­lit­i­cal state­ment, but when I moved to Paris, I felt it was time for a change. I wanted to do some­thing with my hands, so cook­ing was, in many ways, a log­i­cal step. I love that it’s also a uni­ver­sal lan­guage. On his mother’s cook­ing When I was train­ing in Paris, I’d try to recre­ate the dishes that my mother and sis­ters made back home in Al­ge­ria. How­ever, it felt like I’d achieved only about 10 per­cent of the taste, which was frus­trat­ing. It took me seven years to re­al­ize that you have to make dishes with love, not just in­gre­di­ents. Of course, you need the skills, but you need to think that you’re feed­ing souls and not only stom­achs.

On din­ing out… I eat out a lot as I be­lieve it’s im­por­tant to know what other cre­ative chefs are do­ing. How­ever, I love sim­ple plates too. Not much beats a fresh, ripe tomato, served with white onion, olive oil and sea salt.

On the fu­ture… There’s an­other sea­son of Mas­ter Chef Al­ge­ria planned for late Septem­ber and other tele­vi­sion work. I’m cur­rently work­ing in Palma de Mal­lorca on a large-scale project for the UK Miche­lin­starred chef Marc Fosh. I wanted to get out of the TV stu­dio and back to the kitchen sink for a while. It’s a bit like sport - you have to keep train­ing to stay sharp.

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