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Finding calling in cooking, 12-year-old Emirati boy dons chef's apron

Finding calling in cooking, 12-year-old Emirati boy dons chef's apron
25 Jan 2024 17:50

SHAMA ABDULLA (ABU DHABI)

He may come across as a typical Emirati tween, but while running own busy hotdog kiosk at Al Hosn Festival, 12-year-old Ahmed Al Mehairbi is putting his own twist on culinary classics.

Topping Ahmed's menu are rare delicacies, and his specialty - camel and deer hotdogs - incorporate a taste of Emirati culinary heritage into the standard festival fare.

Ahmed found his calling as a chef at age five, a rare feat for a child. Today, at Al Hosn Festival, Ahmed mans his own food stall, running operations from frying to seasoning, and wrapping up his dishes with a smile.

Taking a break from his kiosk to share his experience with Aletihad, Ahmed delved into the beginnings of his passion project.

His first brush with cooking was in his mother's kitchen where he says he burnt and cut his fingers several times before mastering the art.

"I love cooking, and I have cooked a lot. After noticing my passion, my family encouraged me to open my own place, and I did. Then it started to grow, and people started to know it," he said.

He set up his first kiosk in 2022 at Project 02 Liwa, returning to Liwa in 2023. Today, he is at Hosn Festival, a meeting point of Emirati heritage and talents.

  • Finding calling in cooking, 12-year-old Emirati boy dons chef's apron

Why Camel and Deer Hotdogs?
The inspiration for the menu came from his father and his love of camels. "When I was younger, my father took us to see camels; they are part of our culture.

Also, we wanted to sell something different as burgers were very common, so came the idea of deer and camel hotdogs," he added.

Explaining guests' reactions to the unique delicacies, Ahmed said: "Everyone loved the hotdogs, and they were surprised to learn that there are camel and deer hot dogs."

Culture festivals are also an occasion for Ahmed to expand his fanbase, as visitors make a beeline to his booth to try his menu, and to take photos with him while he cooks.

"Many are surprised that someone this young is participating at Al Hosn festival," the young chef added. Ahmed's dreams for the future? To open his own restaurant.

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