Some of you may actually know him, while others of you may follow his tweets or blog ‘Not Hungry Cuz I Ate’. What many people don’t know about this talented and very ambitious young chef is that he’s actually a doctor. Yes, you read the last sentence correctly, I said, doctor!
I know some people find it incomprehensible that someone would give up medicine to work in a kitchen, when they could be treating patients and charging the earth for consultations or checkups. Well Sam did.
Which I’m sure is raising another question, ‘WHY?!” I’m not going to lie to you, I asked myself the same question but then decided that the only person who could answer it, would be him. His response was honest and to the point, “I don’t like patients”.
If you think about it many parents persuade or direct their children in to a line of profession that they don’t necessarily want to do or enjoy. For Sam to come to that realization early on and know what his passion is and what he wants to do with his life is quite admirable.
For those of you who don’t live in the region, you may be shrugging your shoulders to say ‘so, what’s the big deal?” In the Middle East being a doctor, engineer or businessman are the top 3 careers that parents want their sons and daughters to be apart of. Being a chef isn’t something that is held in high regard here, which is something I find quite funny, because there are chefs who earn a handsome living.
Ever since I’ve known Sam, I have been impressed with his intellect, wit and knowledge of herbs, flavors and meat cuts. We have had many conversations where we have discussed many recipes, cooking technique and sauces.
In 2010, Sam informed us that he was a chef in a very reputable restaurant in Maadi. A few friends of mine and I went to ‘The Cellar Door’ for a meal to test Sam’s culinary skills in a restaurant. As we walked in to the restaurant we came face to face with our friend in his chef’s coat, talking to the diners and asking them how they enjoyed their meal. When he saw us come in, it looked like he got a bit nervous because we would be some of his toughest critics, especially because we all know how to cook well and have high standards when it comes to pleasing our palates.
We all ordered a range of appetizers, main dishes and deserts. I have to admit that our two-and-a-half hour journey to the restaurant across the city and through traffic was worth every bite. My mushroom, rocket salad with apple was different and enjoyable. My main dish was chicken with a Moroccan twist to it. The chicken breast was rested on a bed of perfect raisin risotto – I was in poultry heaven and would have licked the plate clean if I hadn’t been in a restaurant! Although the recipe wasn’t one of Sam’s, he did oversee the preparation of it that night. To end my dining experience at the cellar door I order the chocolate raspberry mouse cake. The combination of the two flavors complimented each other perfectly and it was as sweet as ones first kiss. My friends whom I accompanied to the restaurant were just as pleased with their dining experience. We did have a few suggestions on how to tweak a few of the dishes and Sam listened intently and appreciated the honest criticism.
Since we visited him at the Cellar Door, he has since moved to the ever popular Cairo Jazz Club, where he is the Executive Chef and is revolutionizing their menu and coming up with some new dishes to add to a brand new menu and improving on the ones that they have. Not too long ago on twitter I cam across a tweet that had been posted by someone who mentioned how great the steaks were at CJC and that they rivaled a famous steak house here in Cairo.
I am planning on paying him a visit at his new place soon to taste and try out his latest creations as soon as it’s on the menu and available to the general public.
So, if you happen to be at Cairo Jazz Club and feel a bit peckish, I recommend that you order something from the menu to go with your drink and the great music, to make the whole experience complete.
P.S just a reminder, you can follow both NotHungryCuzI8 and IrishAlexandria on twitter.