Waldorf Astoria Ras Al Khaimah is a premium resort in the peaceful Emirate of RAK, and it is an ideal destination for an unforgettable getaway. The resort hosts nine elegant restaurants. We spoke to Chef Absar Mallick, Chef de Cuisine at Waldorf Astoria RAK, about his opinions on the organic industry and whether he uses organic in his cuisine.
se tell us about yourself?
I’ve been Chef de Cuisine at the Waldorf Astoria RAK since June 2013 and was part of the pre-opening team and previously worked at Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi. Originally from India, I started my career as a trainee in a small hotel group before working my way to Jeddah where I was commis chef at Saudia Arabian Airlines Catering where I prepped for royalty and VIP flights.
I’ve a passion for working in luxury establishments and with VIPs and so moved to the Burj Al Arab, Dubai, as Demi Chef De Partie in 1999 before progressing to Al Qasr, Madinat Jumeirah and onto Emirates Palace in 2010. I think I am creative with my work and have energy with my team which always makes my roll more enjoyable.
ou source organic ingredients for your menu? Why? (is there a difference in taste or because of health reasons etc.?)
Waldorf Astoria Ras Al Khaimah has a long running history of commitment towards serving the most luxurious products available in the market. Organic food products are on the top of this list and with an ever-growing market move towards sustainable travel and organic living, we believe that using the best organic products on our menus is a necessary choice, irrespective of cost.
We try to take our organic focus to new heights as market leaders and do this through a variety of initiatives that are home-grown ideas from our dedicated culinary and F&B team. We have organic food products on our a la carte menus and an organic breakfast corner in our buffet restaurant, Qasr Al Bahar. We do this because we understand as prominent hoteliers that our guests desire options and a variety of choices when dining.
our opinion, how popular is the organic trend in the Middle East?
Organic living and environmental-based food choices is a trend that is constantly growing and evolving in the Middle East. We see new health cafes, organic restaurants, organic sections of supermarkets and local markets popping up all the time, so it’s obvious that there’s a growing understanding in the UAE of the importance in this kind of lifestyle.Although it is picking up, complete organic living is still developing in the Middle East.
do you determine the source of your ingredients? Is it local?
It is very important that there is traceability within organic food. Customers want to know where items come from and we take great pride in ensuring that we trace our products origins back to the farms where they are produced. Even organic products can be majorly imported, which is not always as sustainable or as environmentally-friendly as we would like. Therefore, we at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel Ras Al Khaimah decided to invest in our own on-property herb and vegetable garden where we grow organic products across 5 patches of land. The key produce grown include mint, rosemary, thyme, curry leaves, okra, broccoli, cauliflower, tomatoes and even watermelon, all of which grow naturally without fertiliser or stimulants. We also host training courses for children and for local schools which contain seed bombing classes and Arabic training courses that teach techniques of growing your own food. For items that we can’t grow within our gardens, we use only trusted suppliers who are registered and reliable. Much of our organic food is delivered from a supplier based in Dubai where we source much of our fish, jams and other items.
Interviewed by Menaka Ramakrishnan, Buyer Manager