The UAE's youngest Emirati chef, Bader Najeeb, who has gained worldwide recognition for his speciality in creating artistic, succulent and jaw-dropping desserts, has turned to some French inspiration for his local dishes.
The 20-year-old, who is known as "Chef b" on social media - with over 70,000 followers on Instagram and 10,000 YouTube subscribers - has collaborated with Sebastien Pinson, the French executive chef at Brasserie Flo in the Venetian Village in Abu Dhabi.
During the weekend, fans of Chef Bader got the chance to meet and greet their favourite Emirati cook, as well as taste some unique blends of desserts, including a café gourmand dessert consisting of éclairs, luqaimaat and aseedat bobar.
The collaboration between the two chefs resulted in a culinary fusion of France and the UAE.
Chef Bader, who also appeared on America's 'The Today Show' where he created luqaimaat, - an Emirati classic but with an ice cream twist - believes that food is not just a meal to be eaten, but it is also a chance to get creative and to be inspired with cultures around us.
He told Khaleej Times that creating a dish that is an art for the eye is important, as it signifies the taste of the dish itself.
"There is an old saying, "we eat with our eyes first," and that is 100 per cent true."
"If you had the most delicious dish in front of you, but not well presented, then you would not feel appealed to eat it," he added.
The self-taught chef highlighted that it was his mother's love for baking cake every Saturday, while he was a child, motivated him to learn the fine art of cooking.
He illustrated that being recognised as the youngest Emirati chef has certainly lifted his spirit and made him proud.
However, Chef Bader, who has also given classes around the world, including in Milan and Saudi, highlighted that he did not always get the support that he hoped for.
"Being a male chef might not be considered the norm in the UAE, so some people looked at it negatively and didn't support me. But I want to change that perception, because I believe one should always follow his or her true passion. Passion is a passion, you don't really choose it, you are just born with it," he added.
He noted that the collaboration between Emirati and global dishes is a representation of UAE itself, because it reflects on the multina- tionalities and cultures that are welcomed in the nation.
"Collaborating with other cultures is what the UAE has taught us. I want to reach different heights by reaching different cultures."
It is about mixing two cultures into one cuisine, he stressed. "You can gain a lot from other cultures by learning about their cuisines".
Chef Sebastien Pinson said this was the first time he worked with an Emirati chef, noting that collaborating different cultures in food certainly creates something unforgettable.
"I've been fortunate enough to work all over the world, but this was the first time I had the chance to work with an Emirati chef since I've been in the UAE."
At the end of the day however, UAE's youngest chef believes that age is not a restriction and that one should always follow his true calling. "If you have a vision, you must go for it. Ignore what people think and just surround yourself with those who support you, and you will succeed."
"You can never dream big enough in this world."
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