Innovation key to Jordanian market

Serving the needs of diners in Amman, the administrative and commercial centre of Jordan, has proved challenging for its chefs with sourcing ingredients, but they have witnessed the city’s culinary scene rise in value, with an increasing demand for healthy fusion food

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By  Lynne Nolan Published  July 1, 2006

Serving the needs of diners in Amman has proved challenging for its chefs in part due to the sourcing of ingredients. However, they have witnessed the city’s culinary scene rise in innovation, with an increasing demand for healthy fusion food. “The market is very competitive in Jordan, especially here in Amman. When the hotel opened in the early 1980s, there were only about five hotels, now there must be around 300 restaurants, increasing all the time, so we have to make sure we provide the best,” said Mohamed Zaitoun, executive chef, Amman Marriott Hotel. Due to the lack of availability of ingredients, chef Mohamed says there is a need to plan menus vigilantly. Without the ability to pick up the telephone and order products like in the US or Europe, the team places orders well in advance to ensure supplies are in place, particularly considering the popularity of light dishes and summer salads. “You don’t have access to all the fresh ingredients and spices that are easy to get elsewhere, like in Dubai,” chef Mohamed comments. According to chef Paul Doyle, executive sous chef at The Four Seasons Amman, a fluctuating market is also forcing intelligent and inventive cooking by chefs in Amman. “It’s very easy to cook when you have everything. The biggest challenges here are sourcing ingredients, bringing them in and trying to keep a steady menu going. “We try to push it with the food all the time, to keep things authentic. We have Italian chefs in the Italian restaurant and two girls from Bangkok in the Asian restaurant. We have mainly local people in the kitchen and the hotel has its own English teacher so everyone speaks English, whilst also trying to learn some Arabic,” chef Paul adds. As the Four Seasons is 95% corporate, this also has an impact on how chef Paul creates the dishes, with business people wanting a quieter atmosphere for meetings. However, having joined the group eight months ago, having worked previously at The Dorchester in London, as chef for the Irish Ambassador in Paris, and in Washington DC, he says he has seen a transformation in how different cuisines are received. “I would say that if you tried to open a Thai restaurant here five years ago, it wouldn’t have worked. Now we have Thai food and Chinese,” chef Paul added.

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