The Great Hall
cooking in the middle east The Great Hall: cooking in the middle east
By Chefacec (Chefacec) on Tuesday, June 17, 2003 - 07:20 pm: Edit

Hi All....I've been offered an Exec. position in a large Hotel in Kuwait. I realize that Pork will be out of the question, also I'm also thinking that since alcohol is not allowed there, I'll be cooking without. Anyone out there with experience over there? I'd appreciate any help. Thanks in advance.

By Dpconsu (Dpconsu) on Tuesday, June 17, 2003 - 10:40 pm: Edit

Hi Chefacec,
I spent some months in Saudi Arabia in the city of Dharan which is only about 2 hours drive from Kuwait.
You asked for imput, here it is....
1) do not expect your terms of contract to be honored in full.
2) there is no life other than work for you there unless you can make friends with expatriates who are living and working there too.
3) do not accept living in the hotel, insist on them finding you furnished accomadations in a forien residents compound and to provide a car and driver as part of your salary.
4) if you are married, do not subject your wife to the harsh culture there, even though Kuwait is more Westernised on the surface, the strong anti western views are just sub surface.
5) do you speak any arabic? or philapino? many of your workers will be Egyptian, Palastinian, or Philapino or Pakistani.
6) there is some limited booze available in Kuwait, it depends on the target clientel of the hotel and the religious furver of the management/owners.
7) insist on at least 2 paid return trips to home per year with additional time off to visit Bahrain every month or so.let me know if there is more that you wish to know.


By Chefspike (Chefspike) on Thursday, June 19, 2003 - 03:53 pm: Edit

in other words......screw it !

By Chefmanny (Chefmanny) on Thursday, June 19, 2003 - 08:05 pm: Edit

I've never been there but it sounds just like HELL!!!!!!

By Corey (Corey) on Friday, June 20, 2003 - 10:30 am: Edit

and the food they eat?
I don't know if I can cook a sheeps head,
grape leafs, no sweat. goat, prolly.

By Mbw (Mbw) on Wednesday, June 25, 2003 - 01:42 am: Edit

They are NOT going to hire an American to cook traditional Middle Eastern food. That would be real dumb. They must want something different

I also hear there is pleanty of booze in most of the Arabic Countries. My Arab friends tell me that if you know the right places to go NO problem. They think it is silly that most Americans have such a limited understanding of life back there. All the same... Ever negotiate with an Arab? I do all the time. It is kind of fun in a painful "I am glad I have a choice" kind of way. You just need to ask your self one question.

"Do you feel lucky? well do you chef?"

ALL 7 POINTS Mike brought up rang true as far as I can tell.

Chef spike Hit it on the head "Screw it!" I won't even move to Chicago, and even there I expect a different currency.

On the flip side you will have access to some of the finest olive oil, spices and other foods the world has to offer. Finding good produce may be a bitch I dunno.


By Dpconsu (Dpconsu) on Wednesday, June 25, 2003 - 11:14 am: Edit


NEGOCIATE!!! well thats a nice term for the proccess, I found the experience to be more along the lines of "lets see who can screw who the worst"
But yes, it is done in such a way as you know it already and that it is part of the game that has to be played out. The actual negociations seem to be the thing for them, not actualy getting the best chef for the money as it would be here.
I Took the job in Saudi, with much reservation, after all I'm a jew!!!!! it didnt help that on my first night there they televized on national TV the execution of 3 men for drug importation by beheading them outside the mosques.
My contacts never were on time for appointments, and often a meeting in mid-way would have to stop for the principle to go to pray.
Still, 40 thousand for 5 weeks work was nice to get, tax free!!!
But it took months to get the final installment out of them, I had to withhold the final part of my work to ensure getting it.

By Chefmanny (Chefmanny) on Wednesday, June 25, 2003 - 09:55 pm: Edit

That's funny BMW!!!!!
Corey, you don't enjoy sheep head???

By Corey (Corey) on Thursday, June 26, 2003 - 01:10 pm: Edit

nah, but I knew someone who liked a little head once in a while.... Sheep Head.

By Snuffaluff (Snuffaluff) on Friday, June 27, 2003 - 01:17 pm: Edit

Dpconsu... you're jewish and want to work in an Arab environment? You are brave my friend. Just w/ all the crap that is going on over there in the middle east, I would find it risky.
but, on the brighter side of things, you'll be closer to "home", the Land that God calls beautiful.
Didn't see ya was in Plano either. I'm in Lewisville(not that it matters, just a small world)

MBW, there is plenty of fresh produce over there. Most of it is exported out of Israel.

By Dpconsu (Dpconsu) on Friday, June 27, 2003 - 02:40 pm: Edit

Yes it was a bit of a worry at first, since my then current passport had been renewed when I was working in Isreal, I had to get a new one just for the trip to Saudi, The client is a devout muslim who believes in the writtings that the Jews and Christians are both "people of the book" and are to be show repect and hospitality. I would not take the trip now for any amount of money.I did work in Isreal for 3 1/2 years and I lived in the "occupied terrotories" just outside of Jerusalem, I never had any close encounters but I did carry a 9mm for the duration. In fact for your information "Snuffaluff" I teach part time near you in Little Elm at Backwoods Traps, I teach the Texas Concealed Handgun Licence Course and have done so since 1997. Thats all I know, Kitchens and Firearms(thanks to 6 years as a green beret in the 70's). So if you are thinking of getting your CHL, send me an e-mail.

By Flattop (Flattop) on Saturday, June 28, 2003 - 12:14 am: Edit

Hmmm what is it about cooking and guns. I'm a gunsmith turned cook. No money but I loved it...damn that still seems to be the case. Oh well. Must be the playing with dangerous things that attracted me like a moth to the flame. :D.

By Snuffaluff (Snuffaluff) on Monday, June 30, 2003 - 11:44 am: Edit

cool, I have been thinking about getting my chl here lately, but I don't have the time to take the classes right now, nor have the money. How much is it anyways?

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