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With an audience of television viewers that runs into millions, Chef Osama is a household name in the Arab world with daily live shows such as "Ma Osama Atyab" or "It’s More Delicious with Osama" and "Bilhanna Wa Shiffa" or "With Joy and Good Health" promoting the art of healthy cooking to the masses.
The fifth edition of his Arabic cook book Bilhanna Wa Shiffa is now on shelves around the region, featureing 18 new recipes with each recipe presented in a format that includes an appetizing, full-color, photograph illustrating a serving suggestion. Along with chef Osama’s personal recipes, the book features holiday favorites for Ramadan, and holy feasts as well.
Chef Osama will be demonstrating his art live at the forthcoming Dubai Ideal Home Show from November 30th to December 3rd at the Airport Expo in Dubai as part of the Tefal Taste Temptation Theatre in interactive sessions with the public.
1. Osama, you have the extraordinary ability to offer simplified formulas for complex cooking techniques and recipes. How did you master this technique?
Since my audience usually numbers millions of viewers across several continents, I have to learn to simplify complex cooking techniques and recipes and for basic home cooks. In fact my shows "Ma Osama Atyab" or "It’s More Delicious with Osama" live daily on Dubai TV and "Bilhanna Wa Shiffa" or "With Joy and Good Health" – are features for those who want to understand and enjoy glorious food without too much fuss. I am the happiest behind the stove with my apron on.
Besides, in the sometimes-frantic pace of today’s lifestyle, everyone is looking for ways to prepare delicious and nutritious meals in a hurry. That is why I offer recipes and cooking methods for a meal that is both healthy and satisfying and on the table in less than one hour.
2. You have mastery over a broad range of styles of cooking, including French, Russian, and Serbian apart from your native style. Is there anything else you would like to add to this amazing list?
Yes, I would like to achieve mastery over numerous other cuisines besides my skills and understanding of continental cuisines such as French, Russian, and Serbian. I can define my style of cooking as "Nouvelle Mediterranean Cuisine". You will get a chance to see and probably taste all these at the Tefal Taste Temptation Theatre during the Dubai Ideal Home Show 2006.
3. You are working on a new series of cooking programs at present. Would you like to offer us at the Dubai Ideal Home Show a glimpse as to what exactly you are going to telecast?
Recently we rejigged a new studio kitchen for the Dubai TV program to showcase energizing features created to expand the edutainment experience for the viewers. The new kitchen reflects features including a market designed at the corner of the set. One area is devoted to fruits and vegetables and another to herbs and spices. A third section changes according to the content of the show each day.
Probably, the most revolutionary aspect of the new format will be the opportunity for adventure as we venture out from the studio and visit the kitchen of an area hotel restaurant. Once each week I treat the viewers to a different chef who will share a recipe and cooking instructions for a main dish and dessert.
In fact, creating and outfitting a proper, workable kitchen and making decisions on what appliances are best suited to food preparation and the individual cook’s style is the special feature throughout the new series of programs.
4. A rich and varied international career, providing banquets to some of the world’s dignitaries. Has any of these leaders ever come to you to personally thank you, which you cherish forever?
Oh yes, several of them have personally thanked me. My career in the food service industry spans more than 20 years during which I have come to appreciate the true pleasure of cooking through a personal exploration and discovery of the culture reflected in traditional dishes from around the world.
Of course my varied international career has definitely come handy. I learned many of my trademark skills during my graduation from the Hotel Technical Institute in Cairo and my apprenticeship with the El-Nile Hilton International Hotel. However, during my first chef’s position with the renowned Serbian Crown restaurant in Washington DC, I homed my skills and understanding of continental cuisines. After this I was with Braun’s Fine Caterers in Lanham, Maryland, where I have served dignitaries in the political and diplomatic communities as well as numerous members of the foreign community. So my experience over the years has helped me in this regard.
5. Apart from your mastery of numerous cuisines, you also manage to find time to teach cookery to children, donate your talents to worthy charitable events. a) How do you manage to achieve this? b) Was there anything in your life that made you turn to worthy charitable events?
My mother and her home cooking are my first major influences. I manage to allow time for such events, as I love being with children.
6. What is your most recent major work in the US?
In suburban Maryland, US, as corporate executive chef for Martin’s, Incorporated – one of America’s largest social caterers – I created and developed an innovative Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP) recipe guide and developed and implemented Technical Specifications, Nutritional Labeling, and Standard Sanitation Operating Procedures (SSOP’s) which were submitted to the USDA for the operation of a federally inspected meat and poultry processing facility which produces Home Meal Replacement (HMR), gourmet menu items prepared and shipped for retail distribution. This is a commercial line of gourmet dinners for a chain of national supermarkets and I am sure this could be the answer to America’s demand for instant elegant-yet affordable-meals.
Besides, I am also an active member of the Capital Chapter of the American Culinary Federation (ACF) – from where have earned the designation of Certified Executive Chef — and of the Epicurean Club and the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP).
7. Could you tell us what we can expect at the Ideal Home Show Tefal Taste Temptation Theatre this year in Dubai?
At the Dubai Ideal Home Show 2006, I will be hosting the Tefal Taste Temptation Theatre along with my esteemed colleagues Sanjeev Kapoor and Ainsley Harriott. Of course I will be interacting with the visitors, offering tips about my easy cooking techniques, signing books and hosting the show in conjunction with my colleagues.
You will get an opportunity to watch me execute some of my signature recipes along with my renowned colleagues.
8. Are you planning to publish any new cookery book in the near future?
The fifth edition of my book Bilhanna Wa Shiffa now on book shelves in Arabic, features 18 new recipes with each recipe presented in a format that includes an appetizing, full-color, photograph illustrating a serving suggestion. Meal planning and menu suggestions feature traditional dishes along with my personal recipes. Holiday favorites for Ramadan, and Holy feasts including Christmas are featured as well.
The book was inspired by requests from faithful viewers of my global television and print audience and the publication celebrates the name of my popular cooking show, Bilhanna Wa Shiffa, or With Joy and Good Health which enjoyed an initial run of 13 years and is still being aired in many parts of the world.
I am sure copies the book will be available in the Tefal Taste Temptation Theatre at Dubai Ideal Home Show 2006. Whether you are a seasoned cook or just a beginner in the kitchen, Bilhanna Wa Shiffa is certainly every reader’s primary reference.
9. Have you participated in any similar events (in any other city or exhibition) like the Tefal Taste Temptation Theatre at Dubai Ideal Home Show? If yes, what is so special about that event?
Oh yes, the most important being the new set in the famous Modhesh Fun City, certainly the hot spot of Dubai Summer Surprises. It is definitely special for me, as I love being with children. I also make it a point to allocate time to teach cookery to children, something I love to do.
Ma Osama Atayab (Its More Delicious with Osama) progressed through the various themes of the event from the inaugural flowers week and ice, heritage, colors and closed with Back-to-School. We celebrated each of the 10 weeks in our own way, and satellite transmission enabled us to share these special food adventures with viewers in the UAE and around the world.
The temporary quarters at the Dubai Conference Centre provided us with the opportunity to have a studio audience in addition to the daily calls from home viewers. Each Thursday, we had special surprises and often included children in our activities. A live band added to the festive mood, and the changing of themes each week of DSS inspired a few unusual decorative additions to our television kitchen. We even created what nature has never produced a pineapple-date palm tree. It was designed for Pineapple Day.
Sand castles, visiting chefs from Jumeirah, ice carving along with foods from the basic to the exotic, a wedding cake and our own version of Go Fish, fishing for a meal from our on-stage tank, gave us a chance to explore the world and share the experiences and surprises with all that love good food.