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Female Saudi chefs cook up a storm despite challenges

Saudi chefs are vigorously competing in the culinary industry, dedicating their abilities and expertise to offer distinctive dishes. (Shutterstock)

Saudi chefs are vigorously competing in the culinary industry, dedicating their abilities and expertise to offer distinctive dishes that express their passion for cooking.

But success has come at a price, with some obstacles and difficulties.

Chef Somayya al-Idrissi said she encountered difficulties in the field cooking in the Kingdom.

“This area is relatively new in Saudi Arabia and there are misconceptions about the profession of chefs, which scares young women from pursuing this experience. But my determination and my enthusiasm to hone my talent led me to the pursuit of excellence even though it is difficult,” she said.

Al-Idrissi’s passion for cooking began when she was a child, but she started cooking professionally in 2009.

“At that time, I couldn’t find adequate support and training. But in recent years, the situation has improved significantly. Now we have academies for specialized education to teach cooking. The Saudis Chefs Association was also established,” Al-Idrissi said.

Chef Amal Fakih talked about her suffering in the profession.

“Of course I faced many difficulties at the beginning like any other Saudi chef. First, there was criticism and a lack of acceptance from the community. Chefs were looked down on as inferior especially that traditional ideas about women’s roles put them in the house and with children,” Fakih said.

She hopes to establish the Academy of Certified Cooking in Saudi Arabia that would graduate Saudis chefs with the necessary skills to start their own businesses.

Fakih now has an academy for young chefs offering several workshops and training programs to associations and centers in Jeddah.

Mona Musili that there was no culture of respect toward the profession of cooking several years ago.

“People thought that I was working as a waitress. But today there has been support for those who wish to go into this field. Young people have more confidence to study what they want, but the study of cooking does not mean that a person has become a professional and can open his own restaurant. They need experience and practice to gain access to the resources necessary to take responsibility for a full kitchen including cleanliness and even offering creative ways of serving dishes,” Musili said.

She said the experience she gained through her work in Paris cleaning and dealing with people was the best part of the years she spent studying.

“But that does not prevent anyone from getting a degree in this field to learn the basics in cooking, so you must customize the short courses or long to teach the foundations of cooking for all,” she said.

This article was first published in the Saudi Gazette on Sept. 26. 2016.

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Last Update: Monday, 26 September 2016 KSA 13:10 - GMT 10:10
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Success has come at a price, with some obstacles and difficulties
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