August 17, 2022

‘Clean as You Go’: The Unspoken Rule of The Professional Kitchen

By Amelia D'Souza

The “clean as you go” rule is among the gospel truths of working in a professional kitchen. Remember the movie Ratatouille where the character Chef Colette voices this while training Linguini?  

But one wonders how far this is a reality in professional kitchens. The truth is that this is one of the hard facts in the industry. So. why is clean as you go’ considered one of the most important aspects of a well-maintained kitchen? 

Ensures Seamless Work Efficiency and Safety: Every kitchen functions best when its processes are optimized for maximum efficiency, and this often boils down to the Chefs taking responsibility for their station and delivering food in a timely manner. A strict no-no is that kitchen scraps are rarely placed directly on the bench; they must always be placed in bowls since this makes their waste disposal more efficient. It is often believed that the cleaner a Chef’s station is the clearer their thought process. Maintaining a high level of cleanliness and organization at their respective station ensures better efficiency since Chefs can keep better track of the kitchen activities. ICCA Dubai instills these kitchen etiquettes and standards of keeping the stations clear and maintaining accessibility to ingredients right from the beginning of the program 

Helps Maintain High Hygiene Standards:  Chefs must be highly disciplined and maintain stringent hygienic and organizational practices in a professional kitchen. From personal grooming and meticulous prep work to the clean-up of the kitchen, a Chef is trained to be not only responsible for their own stations but also for the byproducts of their work such as unwashed dishes, and food scraps, among others. So, the principle of cleaning as you go can help maintain these high hygienic standards. Every ICCA Student Chef is taught industry-compliant sanitation and cleaning practices. 

Helps Maintain Food Safety: While cleaning as you go can seem mundane and tedious, it is of utmost importance, especially when it comes down to food safety. In the UAE, the kitchen must be HAACP compliant, and Chefs must work daily to ensure the most stringent sanitation standards are maintained in the kitchen Once a restaurant is operational, this standard must be maintained to prevent cross-contamination, ensure appropriate garbage disposal, and prioritize the quality of food arriving at the customer’s table. Safeguards such as temperature control and organization of storage areas come down to a Chef’s ability to maintain the level of order from the time, they began the service.  

 Throughout their time at a culinary learning school like ICCA students are held to the same standard as Chefs in a professional kitchen. Here, the principle of ‘çlean as you go’ and the importance of maintaining stringent hygienic and organizational practices are taught and reiterated throughout the program. What ICCA Dubai’s professional courses strive to achieve is to produce well-trained, employable Chefs who will excel in the professional world.  


August 8, 2022

For ICCA Student Chef Kumi King learning is all about inspiring and challenging oneself…

The journey of ICCA Student Chef Kumi King proves that food is more than just cooking, it  actually is the ultimate language to connect and share with the different people around. 

ICCA Dubai Batch 160 Student Chef Kumi King doesn’t belong to the very typical group of student chefs who would use words like ‘passion’ and ‘passionate’ to describe her culinary journey. For her, cooking is a life skill that not only uses the language of food to reach and connect with people from diverse cultural backgrounds but is also a means to constantly challenge oneself.  

It was this thinking that eventually led her to pursue professional diploma programs in cookery as well as baking & patisserie in ICCA Dubai where student chefs from over 20 countries come to learn the art of cooking and baking. Kumi's calm and learning-focused approach to cooking can be traced to where she comes from. She hails from Japan, a country that is rooted in a culture that strives for perfectionism and dedication to work and also expresses itself vividly through food.   

Brought up in a typical Japanese household that revered good, healthy home-cooked food, Kumi developed a deep interest in cooking very early on. "I used to help my mother prepare Japanese dishes. She enjoyed cooking and even took amateur cooking classes to improve her skills. It was very inspiring to watch her dedication and interest in cooking. Also, my father was a food connoisseur, and he often took us to restaurants – from fine dining to casual dining—to experience all kinds of dishes. I think my parent's interest in good food buoyed my interest in cooking."  

Even though her inspiration to cook was homegrown it was only when she was thrust into a foreign land that she realized how cooking and food were going to be her main solace and also the language to connect with an unknown culture.   

"After completing my high school in Japan I attended my University in the United States. During my time in the States as a student, it was hard to find Japanese food, and I grew homesick. The language was a barrier too. So I would await my mother's parcels of Japanese ingredients and I would cook my favourite Japanese dishes; soon I started sharing these dishes with my roommates and other dormitory friends. In time, food made up for my struggles with English as it became my language to make friends."  

Heartened by this experience and also bolstered by the popularity of the hospitality sector, Kumi moved to Europe where she pursued a Hotel management course and entered the hospitality industry in the Front Office department. Later, after getting married, she reignited her interest in cooking and rediscovered her love of sharing food and her knowledge of Japanese cooking, mainly due to her husband's work life that involved travelling and staying in different countries.. "We kept moving every few years. During this time, food and cooking were the only constants. I started taking home cooking classes to brush up on my skills and also chose to share what I have learned with a pool of expatriates from different countries. I soon realized that I enjoyed teaching than mere cooking for myself and my family. I got a lot of joy out of sharing my learning with others. At the same time,  it also made me realize the value of constantly learning and updating myself. One can never be complacent. There is so much to learn and master in culinary arts that I feel like I'm always on a learning curve."  

And that was her main motivation to join ICCA Dubai. "Even though I had done a hotel management course and spent 10 years in the Front Office, I have never worked in a kitchen. Both fields are different from each other. So, when I was perusing courses in cookery and baking, I came across ICCA Dubai, and I was very impressed with the facility and the faculty, and I felt that it would be the right place to improve and hone my culinary skills," She said.  

Her ICCA Journey 

 Kumi's ICCA journey began on a challenging note, mainly due to her choice of program. "I have always been focussed on cooking savoury dishes. Baking intimidated me. Yet I decided to join the professional program in Baking and Patisserie to challenge myself."  

Recounting her journey at ICCA, Kumi said, "I come from a culture where meticulousness, precision, and being detail oriented is particularly important, but baking takes these capabilities to another level. It was incredibly challenging at first. Our chef instructors do push us to do our best; slowly but steadily, I started getting better."   

Today Kumi has realized what goes into plating those beautiful desserts and dishes. "It is no easy task, so it is important to be focused and disciplined.  Teamwork is key as well and you really must be stubborn and tenacious in a positive way that you cannot give up. It takes time to see results, especially in pastry. You must constantly practise mastering the techniques. Above all, one must remember that there are no shortcuts in baking."  

While she has signed up for the Industry Internships/Work Placements (IWP) program which specially trains and equips students in industry best practices for work placement in the hospitality industry globally, her goal is not to become an executive chef but to use her experience to teach aspiring chefs. "Teaching is what I want to do eventually. I realized it long ago when I started sharing my knowledge of Japanese home cooking with expatriates and conducting online cooking classes and this interest has only gained impetus while learning new culinary techniques and skillset at ICCA."  

Today, Kumi is inching toward finishing her professional courses at ICCA Dubai and is primed to fulfil her culinary teaching goals.   

ICCA Student Chef Kumi King's journey highlights the fact that she has stood true to the Five Ps of the learnings for life at ICCA Dubai– Passion, Persistence Performance, Perfection, and Patience for success in life. 


August 3, 2022

From The CEO’s Desk I The Role of TVET in Today’s Changing Industry

Sunjeh Raja,  Director and CEO of ICCA Dubai, discusses the importance of understanding what TVET (Technical Vocational Education and Training) is about.

In the ever-changing industry, a well-designed Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) can play a vital role in developing the right skills-set for the human capital required.  TVET is not only for the youth but also for adults and those already in the workplace who need knowledge & skilling, up-skilling or re-skilling. 

To understand how TVET can help students prepare for their future professional lives, it is important to understand what Technical Vocational Education and Training are about.

Vocational Education is an alternative to conventional learning from the usual colleges or universities since it carves a route that offers specific industry-centred, application-focused, and outcome-driven knowledge & skills needed to work in a given occupation. 

What makes Vocational Education attractive today is that it is thoughtfully synchronised with the requirements of a given industry, along with clear application and outcome, which form an integral part of the education & training here.

Here are some benefits of choosing TVET programs at a glance! 

Where Colleges education often includes courses on generic subjects that may not directly relate to a student’s major or specialisation, vocational training skips such broad academic study; instead, it focuses on application and outcome for a specific field or position. 

Students that go through TVET programs are ‘’work ready’ since they are enabled with significant practical education for a professional environment to which they can quickly adapt, thus empowering them to leap right into the given roles and effectively deliver.  

One of the best things about Technical Vocational Educational and Training is that it includes a variety of settings including industry exposure stints where students can showcase and improve their skills and knowledge acquired through such experiences.

If you thought vocational training was only for young up-starts,  you are in for a real surprise. Today vocational training is so evolved that it helps further one's career. One could get the opportunity to move to the next step by advancing to a higher-level position by gaining additional skills and knowledge. 

Once you know which skill, it is essential to identify the correct TVET program and institution to learn, train from, and work hard to push yourself for a successful career path. 

However, choosing the right place for the TVET is the key. Regarding culinary arts, ICCA Dubai is internationally renowned for delivering accredited courses for those looking to enter the hospitality industry as chefs or food entrepreneurs. 


About Sunjeh Raja: Sunjeh Raja is an award winning educator passionate about Technical Vocational Training (TVET) programs.

For the last 18 years, as Director & CEO of the International Centre for Culinary Arts (ICCA) Dubai, a world-class culinary training centre, Sunjeh Raja has been persistently working to redefine TVET in Culinary Arts, to make it application focussed & outcome driven, and relevant to the emerging needs of the industry. Of late, with the rapidly growing reach of blockchain, he has also been exploring the future of the ecosystem around food as well as the new chapter of food in Metaverse that would benefit the Chefs and the hospitality industry at large

July 28, 2022

Rewarding Culinary Careers Beyond The Kitchen

Enrolling in a culinary arts institute can certainly help whip up rewarding careers in the future.  

Some will become World Best 50, Gault & Millau-recognised or Michelin-starred chefs, and many may be on their way to becoming successful restaurateurs.  The others may pursue a different path, whether for a personal or a professional decision; opting for opportunities other than becoming a chef is also a path some take.  

If you are among those that would like to trade in your Chef’s hat and apron for other rewarding culinary careers, then you are in for a treat. Here are some possible career choices where you can make proper use of the culinary or artisanal course that you have taken.  

Culinary Artist 

For culinary artists, food is a medium to create art. Doing a culinary arts program will offer hands-on experience as well as extensive knowledge of various cooking techniques that can be put to good use while serving authentic and aesthetically pleasing dishes.   

Cake decorator  

Today, customised cakes are in demand for every function and occasion. Finishing an artisanal course in Sugarcraft will equip you with the specialized skills, techniques, and tools required to make elaborate and exquisitely designed cakes and pastries.  

Food Blogger  

Are you a wordsmith with a love for food? Then, try combining both your passion and become a food blogger.  

A food writer with a background in the culinary arts would know how to describe and express a kaleidoscope of flavours. If you took a culinary course, you would see how a dish should look or taste and be equipped with the knowledge of cooking techniques and cuisines from around the world that will help you write authentically and knowledgeably about food. You can start a food blog, write restaurant reviews, and even share your recipes, which could prove quite a lucrative career.  

Artisanal Food Producer  

Not every student Chef is interested in creating dishes to order. There would be many who would be keen to devote their cooking talents to producing artisanal food. Courses dedicated to teaching the traditional art, nuances of the craft, and the science behind high-quality and distinctive handmade food and beverages can be helpful for those looking to venture into this career path. Chocolates, cakes, and bread are popular artisanal foods, and to meet high-quality control standards, these foods are produced and sold in small batches.  


Culinary arts professionals can also try their hand at the catering business. You can always work as a consultant if you prefer not to work in a hotel kitchen.   

One of the things that reputed culinary schools do is to give student chefs an overview of what it is like to handle the catering business by giving them a glimpse into it through menu curation, talking to food suppliers, and actual meal preparation as well as food knowledge. Some culinary schools like ICCA Dubai offer students a fine dining banquet experience, from meticulous planning, practice, and execution.    

Chef Instructor  

Some who have earned their stars may be naturally drawn to teaching and mentoring; professionals keen to share their culinary arts knowledge can pursue a culinary schoolteacher career and apply to be instructors in a cooking school. Their knowledge, coupled with the experience of working in the industry, can significantly inspire and influence aspiring cooks.  

Food Photographer   

A background in culinary arts can be beneficial when you want to pursue a career in food photography or food styling. Understanding aspects of food, knowledge of ingredients, how long a dish should take to prepare and how a word should look when it is freshly baked can help prepare for the photoshoot and photograph in the best way light.  

Savouring Success   

Those student Chefs emerging from culinary learning institutes such as ICCA Dubai can look forward to a rewarding future with their culinary certificates.  The knowledge, skills, and experience these student Chefs learn while in culinary school can equip them to find the culinary career of their choice, coupled with Passion, Persistence, Performance, Perfection, and Patience, culinary specialists can decidedly reap the rewards of their efforts. 

July 18, 2022

Learning never stops for ICCA Dubai Batch 152 Student Chef Rouh Abou Zahr

The journey of food entrepreneur and social media influencer Rouh Abou Zahr proves that cooking is a vast ocean and the more one immerses in it, the more one can gain and learn.

Years ago, if you met Rouh Abou Zahr and told her that one day she would be happy waking up at 5 am to go to cook, she would have laughed at you and brushed away this statement as absolutely impossible. But come 2021-2022, this social media influencer, mother, and an established food entrepreneur managed to surprise herself big time.

First, she took a big leap from her successful catering business and enrolled herself in the professional diploma program in cookery at ICCA Dubai; second, she became a morning person (not an easy task for a nocturnal bird like her); and third, she managed to juggle her family duties effectively and seamlessly (which included caring for a toddler), managing a business and completing a grueling and intensive cooking program.

But, for this Batch 152 ICCA Dubai student chef, the seeds of pursuing her culinary dreams were sown in her childhood. “My grandmother was a superb cook. As a child I used to really look forward to her diverse range of dishes she used to prepare—from Kafta bil Suniyi to Kunafa, her dishes were so timeless and full of flavor that I use the same in my catering business.”

Her grandmother alone wasn’t her inspiration; Rouh’s father was a major connoisseur of good food. “The trips that we took were never centered on mere fun and entertainment, like Disneyland or similar themed amusement parks; it was more like a food-centered where the focus was always on enjoying local cuisine. My father used to enjoy trying the local fare. And he was insistent that I do too. In fact, even as a 5-year-old, my father never allowed me to have a well-done steak; it always had to be medium-done.”

Despite having a well-developed palate in food, Rouh never pursued the culinary path until much later. “My parents were keen that I complete my degree and so I completed a degree in criminology, but it was only after I moved to Saudi Arabia that I got a chance to indulge in my passion for cooking. With jobs far and few, I decided to bake and cook at home. That was a wonderful experience for me and gave me immense confidence.”

Later, when this native of Lebanon moved to Dubai, she was completely immersed in cooking and baking. “I started my Instagram handle @soulselections and became a content curator. For the last six years. I have been reviewing food, and restaurants, building my profile as a solid influencer. But when COVID hit, my blog took a different route—I started online cooking classes for newlyweds and those who wanted to know the basics of cooking and I also started my catering business—My menu revolved around cakes, and several main dishes.”

Even though her business was going well, a thought kept niggling at her. She wanted to earn the title of a ‘Chef.’ “All my followers used to call me Chef, but I never really felt like one although I was cooking and baking professionally.”

But a chance visit to ICCA Dubai for an industry event proved to be a life-changing experience for her. There, after an interaction with one of the Chef instructors, and coaxed by her husband, Rouh made a momentous decision to join the course. “I came to ICCA Dubai, and I had a word with Chef Sergio, one of the Chef instructors who was very encouraging and told me that ICCA Dubai was the place for someone like me who was passionate about food and cooking. Even my husband said that I deserved to be in ICCA Dubai. It felt like a sign.”

It was not smooth sailing for Rouh from the get-go at ICCA Dubai. “Within two weeks, I regretted the decision—during theory classes and while doing mundane chores like washing the dishes, I found myself questioning my decision. But by the end of the month, I had found my rhythm. I learned a lot—new techniques, cooking methods—it was singularly eye-opening, and I found myself waking up earlier just to get to ICCA Dubai and start cooking! Such is the experience that ICCA Dubai offers.”

It is no surprise then that Rouh’s extraordinary passion for cooking and learning paid off as she was awarded the Chef of the Batch certificate. “Earning the title of a Chef was such a proud moment for me but what I gained from the course was so much more. ICCA Dubai became like my second home and my classmates became my family.” This personable mother of a toddler said, her voice quivering with emotion.

Completing the professional diploma in cookery from ICCA Dubai was not the end of the road for Rouh; during the program, she had participated in an exciting meat training demonstration and competition organized by the Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA), an industry-recognized marketing and research body that works closely with the Australian government and the meat and livestock industries. Among the 10 ICCA students that participated in the MLA meat dish competition, her dish was chosen for the second round of the competition that included participants across the UAE, and subsequently, her dish secured second place. “It was a very challenging competition, and I trained a lot under the guidance of Chef Sergio where we were working on different cuts of meat; even though I didn’t win it, it was one helluva experience, plus I got a chance to come back to ICCA Dubai and train.” She said with a smile writ large upon her face.

Student Chef Rouh prepared Kafta Fatteh for the Education & Training session at the recently concluded WorldChefs Congress 2022.

Today, armed with her new culinary learning and experience, Rouh is all set to take her food entrepreneurship to the next level by enhancing her offerings at her catering business.

Rouh’s journey once again underlines the fact that she has stood true to the Five Ps of the learnings for life at ICCA Dubai– Passion, Persistence Performance, Perfection, and Patience for success in life.

July 12, 2022

Spaghetti Seafood Pasta

Spaghetti seafood pasta is creamy, elegant, and easy to whip up. This delicious pasta dish is perfect for date nights, entertaining, or simply treating yourself on a weeknight in!

Recipe Card





Red peppers


Extra virgin olive oil


3 tablespoons
Garlic, finely chopped ½ teaspoon
Large shrimp, peeled, deveined, and cut into ½-inch pieces


8 ounces


As required
Freshly ground black pepper


As required
Heavy cream


¾ cup
Flat leaf Italian parsley, finely chopped


1 tablespoon


1 pound



  1. Roast the red peppers over an open flame or under the broiler until the skin is charred on all sides. Place them in a plastic bag and tie it shut. After about 20 minutes take the peppers out, cut them in half, remove the core and scrape away the skin and the seeds. Do not rinse them or try to peel them under running water or you’ll wash away the flavor. Cut the peppers into ¾-inch squares.
  2. Fill a pot for the pasta with about 3 litres of water, cover, and place over high heat.
  3. Put the olive oil and garlic in a 12-inch skillet and place over medium high heat. When the garlic begins to sizzle, add the shrimp, season with salt and pepper, and cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring often, until the shrimp have lost their raw color. Stir in the roasted peppers and add the cream and parsley. Cook until the cream has reduced by a third, then remove from the heat.
  4. Add 2 tablespoons salt to the boiling pasta water, add the spaghetti, and stir until all the strands are submerged. Cook until al dente. When the pasta is done, drain well, toss with the sauce, and serve at once.

July 12, 2022

Cold Beet Soup

Beat the summer heat with this chilled beet soup. Simple and easy to make, it is full of healthy fresh ingredients that will be household staples in any pantry.

Recipe Card





Spanish onion, sliced




2 tablespoons
Cooked beetroot, peeled and sliced


½ pounds
Boiled potato, peeled


Salt and freshly-ground black pepper


As required
Juice of large lemon




½ pint
Chilled chicken stock


½–¾ pint



  1. Sauté sliced onion in butter until soft.
  2. Put peeled sliced beetroot, sautéed onion and boiled peeled potato through electric blender (to press through a fine sieve); add salt, pepper, lemon juice and cream, and blend until smooth. Chill. Just before serving, add chilled chicken stock and blend for 1 minute.

July 6, 2022

Asparagus Egg and Potato Caesar Salad

Bored of your usual Caesar Salad? Then, try a spin on this classic salad with additions of asparagus, egg and potato and topped with a subtly sweet and tangy dressing. It will make for a great filling meal when you want something light but nourishing.

Recipe Card

Ingredients Quantity
Medium potatoes, scrubbed and diced 4
Sunflower oil 6–8 tablespoons
Garlic, finely chopped 1 clove
Small cos lettuces 2
Eggs 2
Baby Asparagus, trimmed and  blanched 125 grams
Olive oil 6–8 tablespoons
 Lemon juice 3 tablespoons
Worcestershire sauce ½ teaspoon
 Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper As required
 Parmesan, freshly grated 2 oz (50 g)



  1. Heat the oil in a frying pan and add the potatoes and brown them over a high heat. Lower the heat, add the garlic and cook until the potatoes are tender. Toss in the blanched Asparagus. Remove, and keep warm.
  2. Separate the lettuce leaves and wash if necessary. Put into a large bowl. Put the eggs in boiling water for just 1 minute, then remove and scrape the barely cooked white and yolk out of the shell. Mix with the oil, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce and seasoning.
  3. Scatter the potatoes and asparagus over the lettuce, spoon over the dressing and sprinkle with the cheese.


July 5, 2022

Learn to make pro-level pizza at home!

At that trendy pizzeria where you order your favorite wood-fired pies, the cooks likely dust their work areas with raw flour and then use it to keep the dough from sticking to any surfaces. It doesn’t matter much that the dusting flour is raw, since it’s going to toast up real nice in their blazing-hot dome oven.

At home, however, our ovens are considerably less hot. This is not an impediment to making pro-level pies. But to really upgrade them it is suggested, that you use your oven to toast up your dusting.

July 4, 2022

Creamy Salmon Pasta Bake

This creamy salmon pasta bake, made with a handful of simple pantry staples, is a quick and easy family dinner idea that can be rustled up in under 30 minutes.  With a light and crispy blanket of breadcrumbs, the deliciously creamy salmon pasta bake makes for a tremendously satisfying weeknight meal.

Recipe Card

Ingredients Quantity
Dried porcini 20 grams
Fresh salmon, in a single piece 375 grams
 Fish or vegetable stock 275 ml
  Unsalted butter 65 grams
Shallot, chopped very finely 1
Button mushrooms, chopped coarsely 175 grams
Plain white flour 1½ tablespoons
Double cream 3 tablespoons
Fresh dill, snipped A bunch
 Pappardelle or dried tagliatelle 300 g (10 oz)
Grated parmesan cheese 2 tablespoons
 Dried breadcrumbs 2 tablespoons
 Salt and pepper


As required


  1. Put the dried porcini in a small bowl and cover them with boiling or very hot water. Leave them to soak for at least 20 minutes.
  2. Put the salmon in a saucepan and cover it with the stock and the wine. Bring to the boil and simmer for 1 minute. Turn the heat off, leaving the salmon in the pan while you prepare the sauce.
  3. Put half the butter and the shallot in a heavy saucepan. Sprinkle with salt and cook gently until the shallot is soft, stirring occasionally.
  4. Lift the porcini out of the soaking water and, if necessary, rinse them under cold water. Dry them with kitchen paper and chop them coarsely. Filter the porcini liquid through a sieve lined with muslin and reserve the liquid.
  5. Add the porcini to the shallot and fry gently for 5 minutes. Mix in the button mushrooms, turn the heat up and cook until the liquid has come out of the mushrooms. Stir frequently.
  6. Blend the flour into the mushroom sauce and cook for a minute or so, stirring constantly. Pour over a cupful of the fish cooking liquid and stir rapidly over a very low heat. Pour over the rest of the fish cooking liquid very gradually, beating constantly. Add a couple of tablespoons of the filtered porcini liquid. The sauce should be quite thin.
  7. Bring the sauce slowly to the boil. Turn the heat right down so that only a few bubbles break the surface of the sauce every now and then, and cook for 30 minutes.
  8. Mix in the cream and the dill. Taste to check the seasoning.
  9. Skin and bone the salmon and flake it. Add to the sauce and keep warm.
  10. Preheat the oven to 200°C/.
  11. Cook the pasta in plenty of boiling salted water according to pack instructions until only just al dente. Drain and return it to the hot saucepan in which it cooked. Toss with the remaining butter.
  12. Butter a shallow oven dish and transfer the pasta into it. Cover with the fish sauce. Mix the parmesan and breadcrumbs together and sprinkle over the top. Bake for 15 minutes and then allow resting for 5 minutes out of the oven before serving.


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