Chef Hala Ayash: From passion to profession

T-Mag Thursday 28/June/2018 14:02 PM
By: Times News Service
Chef Hala Ayash: From passion to profession

Similar to music and painting, cooking is a form of art celebrated by food-loving chefs, and appreciated by people from around the globe for its aromatic whiff of fresh ingredients that mingle with spices, carry exotic flavours and vibrant colours. I had the pleasure of meeting an inspirational cook who’s known for serving nothing but gastronomical beauty on a platter — celebrity Chef Hala Ayash.

I caught up with Chef Hala during the launch of Mint & Coco, Al Khuwair. We had a quick chat about her culinary journey that started out as a passion and later transformed into a fruitful career full of excitement and fun.

Chef Hala is a passionate, hardworking woman who took baby steps to turn her dreams into reality. Her story has inspired many young cooks and she is admired by people across the region. She has proved that her love for the kitchen was never a mistake nor a phase, but rather the beginning of a new adventure full of culinary art.

Hala was born and raised in Saudi Arabia, and has been residing in Dubai for the last 10 years. She always had a special place in her heart for cooking.

Her passion started to take shape when she gave birth to her daughter in 2003. She felt a sense of obligation towards making healthy food, and wanted to be a great role model for her little one. So she learned everything about ingredients and began experimenting and cooking in the kitchen. Her choice of ingredients were based on quality, which resulted in shaping her kitchen aesthetics as a professional chef.

Chef Hala travelled around the globe, exploring new cultures and tasting new flavours. But she found her passion within the Mediterranean cuisine and fell in love with it, especially with olive oil, which tops her list of ingredients.

After diving into various cuisines, she mastered the art of cooking, and in 2008, she officially became a professional chef.

Hala is a firm believer that the title of “chef” is not given, but rather one must earn it by learning and equipping oneself with the necessary tools. So, she took courses in Spain, Italy, and France that contributed to perfecting her culinary skills. “The title of chef is earned by training and hard work, it’s not just about the passion, it’s a profession,” she said.

After taking several courses, Chef Hala then enrolled at a culinary institute and graduated with a relevant diploma that focused on a variety of areas, from kitchen to hygiene.

By the time she got her diploma and became a force in the field, she embarked on another exciting adventure. This time around, it was in television. She was on the first season of Top Chef on MBC, where she competed alongside fellow chefs for the title, while sharpening her skills in some of the most difficult situations.

She described her Top Chef journey as “a life changing experience” because it pushed her and the other chefs outside their comfort zone; she felt as if she had graduated from another culinary school with a bag full of new cooking expertise.

Today, Chef Hala is a celebrated master chef with a great following of aspiring cooks and admirers of the art of cooking from the Middle East and beyond.

Hala urges young chefs who face the fear of taking the next step in their culinary journey, or who are doubting themselves or questioning their talent, to know what their goal in life is and to work hard towards it. Hala also believes that there isn’t a dream that’s far from reality, especially if that dream is met with hard work and lots of determination.

As she works on publishing her cookbook, people continue to admire her work and try out her lip-smacking recipes. Chef Hala’s culinary journey, in every sense, is a true success story. — [email protected]