Revelations: Marwa Alkhalaf, chef-director, Nutshell, London

19 March 2021
Revelations: Marwa Alkhalaf, chef-director, Nutshell, London

What was your best subject at school?

Maths and biology

What was your first job?

Geophysicist at an oil exploration company

What was your first job in catering?

Part-time chef at the Admirable Crichton catering company

What do you normally have for breakfast?

Cheddar, walnuts and bread, although I grew up eating an American-style breakfast of eggs and pancakes. My favourite is Saudi-style sautéed liver

What do you do to relax?

Draw myself a warm bath

Which is your favourite restaurant?

I don't have a favourite restaurant; I have a favourite dish in multiple restaurants

What's your favourite hotel?

Palace Downtown in Dubai, where I got married

What flavour combinations do you detest?

I'm reluctant to mix banana with anything else

What is your favourite drink?

Sekanjabin, a vinegar and honey sherbet with mint and cucumber

Which person in catering have you most admired?

Eugénie Brazier. Her accomplishments as the first person to attain six Michelin stars speak loudly of how hard she worked to get to that point. Unfortunately, she is a forgotten role model for young female chefs as many are not aware of her or that Paul Bocuse was her student

Which person gave you the greatest inspiration?

My dad, he worked really hard to achieve his dreams

If you had not gone into catering, where do you think you would be now?

Working for the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

Who would be in your "fantasy" brigade?

This isn't really a brigade, more a group project. My ultimate goal is to truly revive Iranian food and bring this ancient cuisine to the modern table. Hence, my selection below. They mostly have a mixed or immigrant background, which I believe gives them a fresh perspective and motive when it comes to modernising a cuisine: René Redzepi of Noma, Alex Atala of D.O.M, Ramael Scully of Scully, Iranian author Najmieh Batmanglij and Jeremy Chan of Ikoyi

Photography: Patricia Niven

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