In Conversation with Chef Aziz Rajab – Of Food and Beyond

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His LinkedIn profile reads as Chef Instructor at ICCA Dubai, French Cuisine Specialist, Continental Food Specialist and avid music fan. But we know better.

There is a lot more to him than just food and music. No, no… I’m not telling you just yet.

Read on to uncover his many fancies as we got him to open up to us. It wasn’t an easy task considering that he is a man of few words. It is always ‘more show, less tell’ with him and we do love him for his grandiose ways.

 Me: Since you are a Chef let’s begin first with food. We all have a story as to how it all began. So what made you a Chef?

CA: I would say that it runs in the family. My dad was a Food Production Manager in a meat processing company. My big brother is a Hotel Management Professional. I as a child I was happy going to the market to get the things required for meals. I was always in and out of the kitchen.

It was dad who saw that I belonged to the kitchen and it was he who introduced me to the culinary world. I went to a culinary college in Kenya to do the 2 year City & Guild program. I was 22 then and since then I have loved being a Chef.

Me:  From Mombasa to Dubai. How memorable and exciting was the transition?

CA:  Very exciting I must say.

I first did an internship at the Wyndham Hotel in Atlanta. Then 5 years at the Renaissance Concourse Hotel again in Atlanta. There on to Coral Beach Resort in Sharjah, where I was the senior Chef-De-Partie for 2 years, and finally a Chef Instructor now at ICCA for the last 6 years.

Meeting and working with amazing people, learning new cultures, understanding how food brings people together. Besides work, there was NBA games, Football, Barbeque Sundays with friends. Life is amazing being a chef. The jacket gives you the liberty and the advantage to travel and to explore.

Me:  How would you define teaching on or about food and what has your experience as an instructor been so far?

CA: Teaching is all about patience.
As an instructor, I get the satisfaction of imparting the knowledge I have to individuals who are passionate about food.  The test is when you have in your class slow learners who will ask you the same question 3-4 times…

The joy is seeing your student graduate and gets a good opportunity and a better position as they go on their culinary journey.

As a teacher, your learning should also never stop.

Me:  You are a French and Continental Food Specialist. What makes you love those cuisines?

CA:  I love the techniques and the sauces which originated in France and now used worldwide.

I have created my own secret sauces that I use and which my friends love.

Me: We know that you are also very particular about fitness. Any particular regime you follow that you would like to share?

CA: I realized that I was gaining weight as I was indulging in fine foods all the time. What began as a fitness need has now become an addiction. I usually head to the gym at 6.30 in the evenings every day.  The more fit you are, the more you sweat and the more creative you get. The mind gets clearer as the body gets pumped up. All you need is the dedication and the rest follows.

Me: Very popular on Instagram, you do enjoy the limelight J?

CA: I like Instagram. I see it and use it as a medium to inspire people, especially foodies. I do enjoy posting and I use it as self-motivation to better myself and take things to the next level.

Me:  You have a few priced possessions that you absolutely love. Tell us more.

CA: My plate collection. I like using plates of different kinds and varieties for presenting the food that I cook. So much so, that many times the plate or the dish becomes the source inspiration to create something new that would look good on it and complement its colours and texture.

And shoes… I have plenty of shoes, hundreds of them.

Me:  Chef Aziz is…

CA:  Chef Aziz is a very down to earth and a people’s person.

I never cook when I go back home. I like people to cook for me. I like to go and try different restaurants and cuisines, also newest trends in the industry.

Me:  Chef Aziz a few years from now…

CA:  Will be travelling a lot. And the travel will be centered all around food. It will be vacation cum learning for me, to get inspired and to inspire wherever I go.

Shagufta Patel

With an academic background in Marketing, Shagufta is also an Image Advisor, Life-Skill Coach and a NLP practitioner with a penchant for writing. She intends to add value as part of the marketing team at ICCA and grow through new experiences. As passionate about food as she is about people, she believes that cultures though diverse across the globe; the one thing that holds common for nations and its folks, is that everyone loves a hearty meal prepared with love and care. Food according to her is the melting pot where all differences just vaporise and she is happy to be part of a culinary potpourri.

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