Chef Khaled Al Baker

Post by Mark

Khaled Al Baker, or KB for short is the brand manager and head chef at Meem Cafe. He’s also a good friend of mine and I’ve been wanting to post about him and his transformation of Meem Cafe since I’ve been watching it happen from the very beginning. Just over a year ago, Khaled moved back to Kuwait after studying culinary arts at the Johnson & Wales University in Miami. He started looking for work and decided he wanted to join MMC Catering who had a bunch of popular restaurants including LeNotre, Meem Cafe, Over Jar and Three & Barista. When he applied, one of the tasks they gave him was to pass by Meem Cafe, try their food out and let them know what he thought of it. So he invited me along with a bunch of our other foodie friends (including Hind from PantryBee) and we passed by Meem Cafe and tried out as much food as we could. My overall impression wasn’t that positive with items on the menu that didn’t make sense to be there, and what was there wasn’t that great either. But Khaled was busy taking down notes, he saw a lot of potential and so he went back to MMC with his feedback and they hired him, giving him the task to revamp and upgrade the Meem Cafe menu.

Khaled wasn’t always a chef. He originally studied accounting and finance at the University of Central Florida and then worked 6 years as an accountant in the oil and gas industry. Things started to change right after his cousin opened up the upscale butcher shop Prime Cuts. They started grilling non-stop 5-6 times a week and Khaled would have his home cook put together the sides while he did all the grilling. But his cook kept making the same sides all the time which eventually got boring, so Khaled decided he’d also do the sides himself. He started reading up a lot and experimenting and the more and more he cooked the more and more he was loving it. So he started taking cooking lessons whenever he found any and he cooked for his friends whenever he could before he eventually decided to go back to university to study culinary arts.

Over the past year Khaled has been super busy reorganizing and reinventing the Meem Cafe menu. Because I keep popping over to Meem Cafe to see him whenever I can, the whole thing to me has felt like I’ve been watching a food reality show where the chef goes into a restaurant and just overhauls the menu. The first thing Khaled did was remove all the items that didn’t fit in with the theme of Middle Eastern comfort food. After refocusing the menu under the main theme, he started experimenting with modernizing Arabic classics while also fusing others with different cuisines. He loves cooking and he’s been generally just having fun trying to come up with new dishes like zaatar fries, Lebanese nachos, burrata mana’eesh and braised short ribs hummus. The end result is a lot of good food with a lot of unique flavors. Even his chef coat is infused with Arabic by being designed like a dishdasha while incorporating the shemagh pattern.

While sitting with Khaled and interviewing him for this post I realized where all this passion with Arabic food was stemming from. He thinks that as Arabs we’re losing the food marketing war with items like hummus and pita being considered Israeli and not Arab, while Greek yogurt becoming trendy but not labneh. He thinks that if we don’t start modernizing and refining Arabic cuisine, we’re going to eventually lose it all. I never thought about it in that way but now that I do I’ve started appreciating what his doing a lot more.

If you haven’t been to Meem Cafe for awhile now then I’d recommend you pass by and try it out again. They’ve got four locations, one at the Jaber Al-Ahmad Cultural Center, another in Hamra Tower, another in 360 Mall and the last one in The View in Salmiya. You can also follow Khaled on his instagram account @chefkb


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Rumor: Eggslut Coming to the Middle East

Post by Mark

This is completely unconfirmed but yesterday I heard that a Kuwaiti company got the rights for Eggslut in the Middle East. Eggslut is an LA based gourmet food concept where all the items on their menu features eggs. I had mentioned Eggslut under my “L.A. Eats” post a few months ago as a place to try out if you’re ever in L.A. If anyone has any information on this rumor please let me know!


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Arby’s is Now Open!

Post by Mark

Arby’s is officially opening their first location in Kuwait tomorrow (Thursday) from 11AM to 4AM. I dropped by today and got to try a bunch of things but really all I wanted was a Roast Beef ‘n Cheddar and it was worth it! They’re located in Jabriya where Fuddruckers used to be. Here is their location on [Google Maps]


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Mr Karak is Now Open

Post by Mark

Mr Karak is a karak tea business run by the two Danish brothers Simon and Adrian Nelbom. I first met them at a Secret Garden brunch and was intrigued by their story, so much so that I actually sat down with them and got their whole story which I posted about on my blog [Here]. After years of serving karak from a kiosk which they moved from one event to another, they’ve finally opened up their own permanent location in Kuwait City.

The first Mr Karak location opened up on the same street as Vol.1 Coffee in Kuwait City. It’s a small cozy place and their timing couldn’t have been more perfect with winter just around the corner (I love karak in the winter). Karak by the way if you aren’t aware is tea mixed with spices like saffron and cardamom and the two brothers have a variety of different interpretations on the classic drink. So pass by if you can, today is their first day officially open. Here is their approximate location on [Google Maps] and their instagram account is @mrkarak

Note: At the time of this post they’re in a soft opening phase and so only open from 5PM to 10PM.


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Sintoho Now Open at the Four Seasons

Post by Mark

Sintoho, the Pan-Asian restaurant at the new Four Seasons is now officially open. It was the last remaining restaurant to open up at the Four Seasons and it’s located on the top floor adjacent to their Italian restaurant, Dai Forni.

If you do decide to head to the Four Seasons make sure you also pass by Al Bandar, their poolside lounge. It’s probably gonna be the spot to be once the weather cools down.


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Pantry Tips: Breadmaking 101 – The Manaeesh Edition

Post by Hind

As we’ve been going manaeesh crazy over in the PantryBee kitchen we thought we’d share a super simple manaeesh dough recipe that you can make to enjoy at home. For those who don’t know manaeesh, or manaakish, or the singular manoushe, it’s a popular levantine dish consisting of flattened dough topped with a variety of toppings ranging from za’atar to minced meat, cheese and more.

This recipe yields enough dough to make 8 manaeesh and is from our Chef friend Khaled AlBaker chief manaeesh maker over at Meem Cafe.

1 tsp salt
1 tsp yeast
2 tbsp olive oil
3 tsp sugar
3 cups flour
1 cup water

Mix together the dry ingredients in a bowl. Add wet ingredients and knead for 15-20 mins continuously (work them arms out!). Roll into a ball and cover to rest for 1 hour at room temperature. Use it straight after resting or leave it overnight in the fridge for later use.

Note: If you use dry yeast 1/2 tsp will do. To activate the yeast add it to the sugar and water and stir. Wait approximately 10 mins until the mixture starts to bubble then it will be ready to use.

Post by Hind
CoFounder of PantryBee where home cooking is made easy.


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Pantry Tips: Palestine on a Plate

Post by Hind

Cookbooks are a pleasure to have, use, and gift to others, and recently our team has been obsessed with “Palestine on a Plate – Memories from my Mother’s Kitchen by Joudie Kalla”. It’s our September PantryBee Bookclub of the month choice for millions of reasons, all of them delicious.

Palestinian-Briti Joudie Kalla is a caterer and a restaurateur in London with a Middle Eastern restaurant in Chelsea named Baity. Her cookbook is filled with classic Palestinian recipes that have been passed down to her from her grandmother and family, and like all great Arabic cooking it caters to carnivores and plant based eaters alike. Our favorite picks include: Sayadeyeh, Salatet jaj wa freekeh, kubbeh bil sanniyeh, Teta Huda’s mussaka and last but not least mejdool date scones.

If you want to hear a bit more, watch the quick interview with Joudie above.

You can order the book [Here]
Or get the Palestine on a Plate app for your phone from [Here]

Post by Hind
CoFounder of PantryBee where home cooking is made easy.


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Sponsored: Free delivery for breakfast orders on Carriage

Post by Sponsor

FREE DELIVERY every morning from 8:30 am to 11 am! All you have to do is use the code YUM in the last step of ordering, after choosing your payment method. You can use the code on any one of our restaurants that are open during that time, which include your favorite breakfast and coffee places.

In other exciting news, Costa Coffee is now available exclusively through Carriage. We’ve also started expanded our delivery zones to include Al Jahra and Al Sulaibikhat, which means that we’re now covering all of Kuwait!

If you’re ever hungry and don’t know what to order, we have restaurants that have a delivery time of only 30 minutes. You can try it out for yourself with Elevation Burger, Walls, and Slice, and the list will grow very soon!

Order now, and don’t forget to use the code YUM!
Download Carriage on iOS and Android.


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Pantry Tips: Kimchi Love

Post by Hind

At PantryBee we like to think that we know a thing or two about food, sourcing it, cooking it, and more importantly eating it. Mark has given us this platform to share some of our favorite food things, be it restaurant recommendations, general know how, our favorite recipes, books and more. For our first post we thought to start with a cuisine we love. If you’ve seen any of our past Korean dishes on site you’d know that we are hardcore Kimchi lovers at the PantryBee kitchen. Kimchi is a traditional Korean staple made with seasoned fermented vegetables and salt that Koreans have with pretty much every meal. The word “kimchi” evolved from the Korean word ‘shimchae’ which means ‘salting of vegetables’.

Kimchi is one of our favorite superfoods out there. Because of fermentation it’s rich in gut healthy bacteria, vitamin A, vitamin C, as well as being low calorie, high fiber, and jam-packed with antioxidants. Though it takes a long time, making kimchi is pretty straightforward and simple and we really recommend everyone give it a go once.

Kimchi can be prepared in a multitude of ways, with different spice levels and using a variety of vegetables. The most classic version is made with cabbage and is super easy to recreate at home. The recipe below is a classic and highly recommended for your first go. If you don’t feel like making your own head over to Singarea to get your fix as they usually have a couple of varieties to choose from.

Easy Kimchi – Yields 3 cups
1 large head Chinese/Napa cabbage approx 500grams (available at lulu, sultan, and Saveco)
1/2 cup salt
1/3 cup rice vinegar
3 Tbsp gochujang (this is a korean red chili pepper paste available at Singarea)
2 cloves garlic minced
2 Tbsp red chili flakes
Cold water
1 inch piece of ginger finely minced
3 spring onions cut into 2 inch pieces
1 daikon radish cut into matchsticks

Directions
1- Cut cabbage lengthwise into quarters removing the core then chop into bite sized pieces.

2- In a bowl add cold water and soak cabbage throughly before draining and transferring to another bowl. sprinkle well with salt turning every 30 mins for 1.5 hrs to make sure cabbage is salted evenly.

3- After 1.5 hrs Rinse well with water making sure to get between the leaves we recommend rinsing at least 3 times .then drain and set aside

4- Mix together the vinegar, gochujang, garlic, ginger in a bowl.

5- Add the cabbage in handfuls to the bowl, squeezing them of any excess water before adding them to the mixture. Add the spring onion and daikon and mix well.

6- Pack into a jar with a tight cover and let sit at room temperature for 2 days then chill in fridge for 4 days before serving.

Post by Hind
CoFounder of PantryBee where home cooking is made easy.


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Sneak Peek: Madison & Heig

Post by Mark

There are a couple of new restaurants I’m looking forward to opening this fall, Madison & Heig is one of them. If you drive up and down the Gulf Road often you might have noticed the large under construction hoarding next to Steak & Shake and Assaha in Bneid Al-Qar (in the same building as Elite Fitness).

Madison & Heig is going to be a bistro and bakery, its a locally created concept characterized by an open kitchen. It will have indoor and outdoor seating and the food will focus on homemade ingredients.

The expected opening date for the place as of now is early November and you can follow them on instagram if you want to stay posted @madisonandheig


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