Meet Shokry Abouelsoud, the exceptional culinary mastermind leading the team at Address Grand Creek Harbour.
With extensive international experience and a passion for gastronomy, Chef Shokry brings a wealth of knowledge to his role as Executive Chef at this prestigious 5-star property. Having obtained a Diploma in Hospitality from the Australian Skills Management Institute and honing his skills over a decade-long career, he has worked with renowned hospitality brands to create culinary masterpieces that showcase his creative flair.
In an exclusive conversation with , Chef Shokry talks about his culinary journey so far and what’s his vision for this new haven by Address.
What inspired you to become a chef, and how did you develop your culinary skills?
My journey as a chef began at a young age when I developed a passion for cooking and a goal of mastering my craft. For me, being a chef is not just a profession, but a deeply rooted passion and a platform for creativity. There is no greater joy than seeing the satisfaction on the faces of my guests when they indulge in the culinary creations I’ve carefully crafted. Over the years, I have honed my culinary skills through continuous learning, experimentation, and dedication. It’s a constant process of refining my techniques, exploring new flavours, and expanding my culinary knowledge.
Can you describe your creative process when developing a new dish or menu?
The creative process behind developing a new dish or menu is a fascinating and ever-evolving journey. Becoming an executive chef or even a sous chef doesn’t happen overnight; it requires years of hard work and experience in the kitchen. While creativity is an exciting aspect, it is essential to have a solid foundation of culinary knowledge and methodology. Understanding the intricacies of cooking various dishes and mastering the techniques is crucial to gain confidence in the kitchen. Once that knowledge and precision are in place, it enhances my creativity. I draw inspiration from different cuisines, ingredients, seasonal produce, and cultural influences to create dishes that are both innovative and harmonious in flavour.
How do you balance the need for consistency and innovation in your cooking?
Maintaining a balance between consistency and innovation is never a challenge in a cosmopolitan city like Dubai. The clientele here is incredibly receptive to new culinary trends, and my team shares the same spirit of adaptability. While consistency is important to uphold high standards of quality, innovation allows us to continuously surprise and delight our guests. By infusing new ideas and flavours into our culinary creations, we ensure that our menu stays fresh and exciting. This balance between consistency and innovation keeps our guests intrigued while maintaining their trust in the culinary experiences we offer.
Tell us about your journey as a chef and how did it begin?
From a young age, I always felt my palate was different to others. My unique skill for enhancing well-known foods with subtle tweaks set me apart early on. Even as I began experimenting with my first simple dishes, I couldn’t settle for mediocrity. If a meal failed to satisfy me, I instinctively sought ways to elevate its flavours and transform the overall dining experience. This passion for culinary excellence grew with me, and I pursued formal training and education to refine my skills. Through hard work, dedication, and a pursuit of excellence, I climbed the ranks in the culinary world, taking on various roles and responsibilities. Each experience shaped me as a chef, instilling in me the values of discipline, creativity, and a deep understanding of the art of gastronomy.
Can you share your philosophy on sourcing ingredients and supporting local farmers and producers?
At Address Grand Creek Harbour, we hold transparency in the highest regard when it comes to sourcing ingredients. We want our guests to know that sourcing the best products goes beyond conforming to certification processes. We prioritise building strong relationships with the best suppliers and producers, both in the UAE and overseas, to ensure that we have access to the freshest and highest-quality ingredients. Supporting local farmers and producers is of utmost importance to us as it fosters a sense of community and contributes to the sustainability of the local food industry. By championing responsible sourcing practices, including at our new weekly Sparkling Thursday where we source our oysters from Dibba Bay, we can provide our guests with exceptional culinary experiences while making a positive impact on the environment and the local economy.
What is your approach to pairing flavours and creating harmonious combinations in a dish?
When it comes to pairing flavours, I believe in achieving a delicate balance rather than overpowering the palate. My approach revolves around harmonising flavours and textures to create a memorable dining experience. Each ingredient is carefully chosen to complement and enhance the others, resulting in a symphony of tastes that dance on the taste buds. By considering the interplay of sweet, salty, sour, bitter, and umami elements, I strive to create dishes that are well-rounded and pleasing to all senses. It’s about creating a culinary journey where each bite unfolds a new layer of intrigue and delight.
How do you adapt your cooking techniques to accommodate dietary restrictions or preferences?
Accommodating dietary restrictions and preferences is a vital aspect of providing an inclusive dining experience. We approach this challenge with both specified techniques and a readiness to offer alternative ingredients. Through meticulous menu planning and the expertise of our culinary team, we ensure that guests with specific dietary restrictions can still indulge in a satisfying meal. By staying updated on the latest dietary trends and alternative ingredients, we can cater to a wide range of preferences without compromising on taste or quality. At The Restaurant, we pride ourselves on offering a diverse range of vegetarian and vegan dishes, catering to the preferences of all our guests. Additionally, for health-conscious individuals and gym-goers, we provide a nutritious assortment, including a specially designed breakfast with options like our unique Acai machine, allowing guests to craft their own refreshing acai bowls. It’s all about going the extra mile to ensure that every guest leaves our hotel with a smile on their face.
What are some of the challenges you’ve faced in your culinary career, and how did you overcome them?
In the life of a chef, numerous challenges arise, but two key factors have helped me overcome them: time management and optimism. The culinary industry demands long hours and relentless dedication, particularly during high-production periods. To navigate these challenges, I prioritise effective time management, ensuring that tasks are organised and delegated efficiently. Additionally, I approach each challenge with optimism, seeing it as an opportunity for growth and learning. By maintaining a positive mindset and fostering a resilient spirit within my team, we overcome challenges together and emerge stronger, continually striving for excellence.
How important is presentation in your dishes, and how do you strike a balance between aesthetics and taste?
Presentation plays a crucial role in the culinary experience we offer at Address Grand Creek Harbour. In today’s visually driven world, the aesthetic appeal of a dish is essential in capturing attention and generating excitement. However, while presentation is important, taste and quality are paramount. We strike a balance between aesthetics and taste by ensuring that the presentation of a dish enhances and elevates the flavours within. We believe that a visually appealing dish should also deliver an unforgettable gustatory experience. By prioritising taste and quality, while applying creativity to the presentation, we create dishes that are not only visually captivating but also delight the palate.
How has the food landscape evolved in Dubai?
The food landscape in Dubai has undergone a remarkable evolution. Over the years, Dubai has transformed into a vibrant culinary destination that stands out among the best. One of the significant developments has been the increasing emphasis on sourcing local produce. Dubai’s agricultural capabilities have grown, enabling us to rely on local farmers and reduce our dependence on imported products. This shift has not only benefited the local economy but also allowed us to showcase the freshness and quality of locally sourced ingredients. Additionally, Dubai has embraced international culinary trends, fostering a diverse and dynamic food scene that caters to the ever-changing preferences of its cosmopolitan clientele.
What role do you believe technology plays in the future of cooking and the culinary industry in Dubai?
While technology undoubtedly has its place in the culinary industry, cooking remains a task that is best performed by human hands. Though concepts like robotic chefs may be intriguing, they cannot replace the creativity, intuition, and passion that human chefs bring to the table. Technology can support various aspects of food production and operations, but it should never overshadow the human touch that makes cooking an art form. As we embrace advancements in technology, we must never underestimate the value of high-quality, handcrafted culinary creations that truly nourish the soul.
Your culinary journey starting from has been expansive with multiple destinations on your resume – What brings you back to Dubai, and what sets it apart?
Dubai holds a special place in my heart, and there are several reasons why it draws me back time and time again. Dubai is a melting pot of cultures, offering a rich tapestry of culinary influences from around the world. It serves as a hub for innovation and sets high standards in the culinary landscape. The adaptability and openness of the clientele make Dubai an ideal place for chefs to experiment, push boundaries, and introduce new flavours. Moreover, Dubai’s continuous growth and development have led to advancements in sourcing local ingredients, further enhancing the quality and authenticity of our culinary creations. Dubai truly stands out as a place where culinary excellence and innovation thrive.
Can you discuss the role of sustainability and responsible sourcing in your culinary practices?
Sustainability and responsible sourcing are integral parts of our culinary practices at Address Grand Creek Harbour. We recognise the importance of fostering a sense of community and being mindful of our environmental impact. In our efforts to promote sustainability, we have implemented practices to limit the use of non-recyclable materials and actively reduce food wastage. We champion responsible sourcing by collaborating with local farmers, fishermen, and suppliers who share our commitment to quality and sustainability. By embracing these practices, we not only contribute to the well-being of the environment but also ensure that our guests can enjoy the finest ingredients sourced with care and integrity.
How do you stay updated with the latest culinary trends and techniques?
Staying updated with the latest culinary trends and techniques is crucial to maintain a fresh and innovative approach to cooking. I keep myself informed through various channels such as culinary books, industry publications, and social media platforms. These sources provide valuable insights into emerging trends, new ingredients, and innovative techniques. However, I don’t simply follow trends blindly; I enjoy combining them with my own style and creativity. By infusing personal touches and unique perspectives, I can introduce new, creative trends and methods to my team, allowing us to develop our own culinary identity.
What advice would you give to aspiring chefs who are just starting their culinary journey?
To aspiring chefs embarking on their culinary journey, I offer the following advice: never give up and always strive to be the best in this highly competitive industry. It requires hard work, perseverance, and a relentless pursuit of excellence. Cultivate your own culinary identity by developing your own style and honing specific skills that set you apart from others. Embrace challenges as opportunities for growth and never lose sight of the value that your dedication and hard work bring to your life as a chef. It is during the toughest times that your strength, knowledge, and confidence as a chef are forged, ultimately shaping your culinary journey.
Can you share an example of a dish or meal that holds a special place in your heart and explain why?
One dish that holds a special place in my heart is Pain Perdu. It may seem simple, but the combination of flavours and memories it evokes make it truly unforgettable. The aroma of caramelization, the sweetness of natural honey, and the abundance of seasonal berries come together in perfect harmony. Paired with a good cup of black coffee, this dish has become my go-to breakfast. Its simplicity and the essence it carries never fail to set the tone for an amazing day ahead. It serves as a reminder that even the simplest of dishes can have a profound impact and infuse joy into our lives.
What is your favourite cuisine to work with, and what about it intrigues you?
International and French cuisine are my favourite cuisines to work with, and they both allow me to express my innovation and flair with incredible dishes. International cuisine allows me to explore a diverse range of flavours, techniques, and ingredients from different cultures. It offers endless opportunities for creativity and experimentation. On the other hand, French cuisine is the epitome of culinary elegance and precision. The meticulous attention to detail, the classic techniques, and the focus on bringing out the best flavours in every ingredient have always intrigued me. French cuisine represents the foundation of culinary excellence and serves as a constant reminder of the importance of mastering the fundamentals.