Where are chefs finding inspiration for their food and cooking trends and techniques have been inspiring them recently?
Our Winnow Chef's Table series brings you top insights from chefs all over the world. As we look into their culinary origins, inspirations, and philosophies.
In this edition, we are pleased to speak with chef Adil Mabchour, Chef de Cuisine at Armani Hotel Dubai, where he talks to us about his inspiration behind the dishes he creates, his passion for sustainability, and what he’s learned with his journey in the fight against food waste with Winnow.
How did you start working at Armani Hotel Dubai?
I’m from Morocco so naturally, I started off by becoming a specialist in Moroccan cuisine. Then I finished studies at my hospitality management school. I proceeded to work in a few more restaurants and finally, I joined this beautiful restaurant - Armani Mediterraneo. It is here guests can find food from Mediterranean countries including Spain, Greece, Morocco.
Adil Mabchour is one of the chefs that are a part of the UAE food waste recipe book titled 'Cooking with Everything'. Click here to learn more.
What inspired you to become a chef?
I come from a family of chefs. My family continues to inspire me every day, starting with my mother to my youngest brother. One of the most important places where I learned cooking from was my mother’s kitchen. I started by watching her prepare food, I saw how carefully she would pick her ingredients. She taught me all the dishes she cooked and that is how I became a specialist in Moroccan cuisine.
What are some challenges you faced while using the system?
Food wastage is massive in all buffet restaurants and controlling this waste is challenging. Altering your team’s perspective on wasting food can be a challenge. My team did an amazing job using Winnow and within just 2 weeks they were all familiar with the system.
After using Winnow, my team and I realized just how much avoidable food waste we had and we started making a change. It didn’t take away from the regular flow of our operation, which was something some of them were concerned about initially.
How does Winnow help you in your day-to-day operations?
Winnow teaches you that what gets measured can be managed. Through our daily and weekly food waste reports, I understand the journey of the food - do customers like it, is it being wasted or reworked? Through the Winnow System, we started looking into each ingredient and each dish. We then realized what dishes guests like more and we reduced the quantity of dishes that were not being enjoyed as much.
We noticed that a lot of rice was being wasted so we started stuffing baby bell peppers with it and baking it - Mediterranean style, we see that our guests like it. We are happy that we have found a way to save food and maintain the high quality of service for our guests.
What initiatives have you implemented based on the data from Winnow’s reporting?
After a few months based on the data we received, we discovered that many of the dishes that we thought are popular were not. So we tried to change the dishes to make it more attractive to our guests while reducing food wastage and cost.
An example of this is Lamb Ouzi Sarates, it is a combination of rice and ouzi. We make it with rice and other ingredients that would have otherwise been wasted. We serve it on our Arabic nights and I can confidently say it is one of the most popular dishes. That is why I love Winnow, they help us get more ideas.
How do you see your kitchen develop towards a more sustainable operation in the future?
What we see from tracking trends is that people care about organic, healthy and sustainable food. This reflects in our kitchen’s operations. We strive to use good-quality locally sourced ingredients and to also become more sustainable in our overall operation. Winnow helps us with our goal of saving the environment by cutting food waste by 47% and saving us 150,000 AED in food costs.
If you could give just one piece of advice to chefs on how to tackle food waste, what would it be?
I would ask all chefs to start looking at the potential of food waste. The amount of waste that gets thrown into the bin is massive and we would be able to save our own time and energy by simply reducing it. Looking at the 117,000 meals we saved on this journey inspires me.
Is there a Chef you admire the most?
There is a chef from my country, Morocco - Chef Ada taught me a lot of recipes, I am so thankful and honoured to have been a part of his team. I owe my success in the field to him.
What’s your most recent fascination and why (i.e. an ingredient, technique)?
Beef cheeks are one of my signature dishes. It is a tough cut of meat. I cook slow-braised beef cheeks with lemon zest, it is quite popular in my country. You can slow-braise cook meat or seafood food, it adds extra flavour and makes the meat soft.
Pastia is one of my top dishes. It is originally from Spain, but us Moroccans have our own twist to the recipe.
Best places to eat out in the world?
Marrakesh in Morocco. Eating food there is the best because it is very organic and fresh and at the same time you’re surrounded by beautiful nature.