Tarek Ibrahim

The First Arab Master Chef...

A gifted master of his craft, a Television Celebrity, an award winning and internationally renowned Master Chef, a successful Restaurateur, and a Qualified Commercial Pilot, Tarek Ibrahim, is not only a culinary genius, but also the ­first culinary professional from the Arab world to receive the Master Chef status by the World Association of Chefs' Societies (WorldChefs).

 

Tarek developed his intense passion and respect for food at a very young age watching his mother and aunts cooking with fresh ingredients back home in Alexandria, Egypt. He grew up in an environment where all kinds of food, including meat, desserts and even bread were made from scratch. For him witnessing cooking from scratch was a wonderful experience and a treat to grow up with which made him fall in love with the process of making food for life.

Though cooking was always his life, coming from a rather traditional and a conservative family background, Tarek couldn’t pursue a formal education in culinary arts, and hence, had to perforce choose his next best option, his love for flying.

He then moved to the US and joined an aviation school to learn flying and built his career, but unfortunately soon after finishing his studies Tarek was soon diagnosed with a medical condition that prevented him from flying professionally, even though he was a licensed pilot.

 

Culinary journey

Tarek had an unusual beginning to his formal culinary journey that started in the US where he took up a job at the Hyatt Regency, Minneapolis working in their employee cafeteria. From there, he worked his way up to a managerial position in one of their fine dining restaurants, The Willows. Being there as an immigrant and working two jobs as most do, his second position was at a bistro café called The Upper Crust, also in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where he learnt professional cooking and also built his way up with hard work and dedication, so much so that within three years he was able to buy that property and become the owner of that place which was then followed by opening five more casual dining restaurants each with a different cuisine.

Tarek is a self made chef and has kept evolving with his quest for knowledge and continued experience in the world of culinary. “Whatever I learnt from books didn’t always make sense to me, as I learnt from my family more, I found myself understanding food better, which helped me develop important skills for a chef and that is, to have very distinctive taste buds”, says Tarek.

"I can say the biggest inspiration for me was both my mother and grandmother. Because of them, I feel an absolute adrenaline rush in my body whenever I enter the kitchen. How I plan and carefully create the beautiful flavours, how I am able to match different ingredients together always gives me that high, which is why I became a chef and I love everything about it.”

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Success in culinary...

Following his Business success, Tarek became a highly respected teacher in culinary arts at the Arts Institutes International Minnesota from 1999 to 2005. Winning several gold and silver medals in highly respected culinary competitions including Taste of Elegance (Central Region), and twice named Chef Par Excellence, he also holds the honour of being named the Premier Chef of America not once but twice by the American Dairy Association.

Today, with over 30 years’ of experience both in the US and the Middle East, Tarek has a wealth of knowledge and experience in all aspects of food. He is a Certified Executive Chef by the American Culinary Federation (ACF) and Global Judge A class (Worldchefs) and at present a star of the Orbit TV show ‘Al Qaheralyoum’ and has also been a part of a number of TV Shows, Viz, Fatafeat,'100 Lahma', 100 Macaroni, Mashawy and 'Min Misr' from Egypt.

Currently Tarek works as the Corporate Master Chef for Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA), providing training sessions to executive chefs and foodservice professionals on handling Meat and its efficient Methods of Cooking.

“It’s a privilege knowing what you do for a living is being able to create delicious dishes every day, experiment with different flavours, and most importantly see the delight on people’s faces when they taste your work. For those of you with a lifelong passion for food and aspiring to become a chef, working within the culinary industry is a goal worth the time and effort it takes to accomplish. Success in Food takes perseverance, passion, and commitment; that is what keeps me going.”

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