PRIVATE CHEF STORIES
Fouad, yhangry’s Top Chef
Shares some insight to what goes on behind the scenes
Chef Fouad (Fred) is currently yhangry’s most sought-after chef. Clients have referred to meals with Fouad as “genuinely one of the best nights of food in my life”; “absolute genius”; and “the best private chef in London”. Behind the popularity and success, is Fouad’s unparalleled skill with food and charming persona.
In a chat with Fouad, he shares glimpses into his approach to food and his clients. A realm where gastronomic creativity runs free.
“Cooking is something that’s been in me even before I ever knew anything else ”, says Fouad. “It’s second nature.”
Born in Algiers, Fouad grew up with five elder sisters and a mother- all of whom loved to cook. With a shared heritage of Algeria, France and England, Fouad inherited some great culinary traditions too. He moved to France when he was young, where his uncle cooked for President Jacques Chirac. He started working in a restaurant as early as 14. Mastering French techniques, Fouad travelled all over Europe and finally moved to the UK- where all the cuisines of the world come together. He worked in many prestigious restaurants such as The Richmond Hill Hotel, and The Savoy, London, amongst others. He currently teaches at The Royal Masonic School for Girls and does private events with yhangry.
In the span of just one year, Chef Fouad has done nearly 200 dinner parties with yhangry and has amassed quite the fan base. His success can be attributed to three core things – understanding the taste palates of different people, having a plan of approach for the menu one will be cooking and having an affable nature.
Understanding food and different flavour palates
Born in Algiers, Fouad grew up with five elder sisters and a mother- all of whom loved to cook. With a shared heritage of Algeria, France and England, Fouad inherited some great culinary traditions too.
“Food at home was traditional North African food which has Arab and French influences. It was my home food that I first tried my hand at. I moved to France soon after and there I did a bit of French cooking, learning French techniques. I explored food in Italy, Morocco and Spain too. For me, working with food and reaching where I am in life, the process of creation is influenced by all the food experiences I have had in life. From my mother’s kitchens to my experiences in other countries – every encounter was a learning experience, that taught me that how ingredients work differently in different cultures.”
According to Fouad, knowing his clients’ cultural heritage and food preferences, helps him tailor a dish to their specific palates. While developing a dish or twisting to make it one’s own, asking questions like how to make something better is important. It is also important to think about the kind of food the client enjoys regularly. For instance, the chef should question what would a person of Mexican heritage appreciate while consuming Indian food, as both cuisines use similar spices, but the way the chilli are used is quite different. To be able to synthesize that knowledge of both cuisines and serve up a plate that maintains the authenticity of the dish is where the skill of the private chef lies.
“To me, food is an experience, and it’s the palate that matters, for both me and the diner.”
Plan of approach
There are many things during a chef’s booking that are contingent on factors that are outside a chef’s control. The chef may be working in smaller spaces, with fewer utensils, and stovetops. There may have been a spill of some important ingredient and there could be time crunches. But the thing to remember is that it’s an experience for other people and one should concentrate on successfully executing it and going the extra mile.
Getting ready to cook for a dinner party, Chef Fouad says “I have a plan and a backup plan worked out, for how I am going to cook the things on the menu in the time I have. Even then, the attitude must be ‘go with the flow’, and there is no room for panic as I am already aware that if something does not pan out, what my next step will be. Personally, I love a challenge in the kitchen. A few unplanned extra guests? I’ll work out a dish from the leftover ingredients. It’s a special occasion? Let me whip them up a cake.” Have a plan, and be quick on your feet.
The Social Aspect
Fouad reminisces about his dinner party experiences, saying, “I have so much fun at yhangry bookings. I was pretty much a restaurant chef, then I started teaching. I only really started doing private events with yhangry, and there have been times clients ask me to stay back. At a booking for some celebrity influencers, they made me stay back and party with them till 5 am. There was a time when a client sent my groceries away and I arrived at their home with literally nothing to cook with! She was embarrassed and panicked but I did the shopping right then and they ended up having a wonderful time.”
It is obvious that people love Fouad because of his charming, easy-going demeanour.
For private chefs, being outgoing socially is an underrated skill, according to Fouad. “To be able to break the boundary between you and the client is very important. For the chef to be utterly comfortable in someone’s unfamiliar kitchen and for the client to truly enjoy the occasion they happen to be celebrating- a mutual trust needs to be established immediately. If not, it takes away from the chef’s abilities and the client’s experience to a great extent.”
When asked why clients keep asking him back, he answers in an air of casual confidence, that’s typical of him, “ You do your food well and you give the people what they want, they will always want more. At yhangry, I love the last-minute bookings. Usually, the people who know me, book me months in advance. But the last-minute ones, they may be people I haven’t met before- it gets me excited that I can make a new group of people happy. I’m very easy-going and like to play close to deadlines so these impulsive kinds of people are my kind of people. Last-minute bookings are something of a challenge as well so they are right up my alley.
Overall in life, one must try to do their best always, know your craft well and go with the flow. If you do a good job, external factors cannot derail you from what you want to achieve.”
While he makes so many clients’ favourite dishes, Fouad himself enjoys a simple grilled fish and vegetables for a meal.
Yhangry is a private chef platform which has been featured on Dragons’ Den. If you are planning a party and staying in a rented venue, you can find and book local private chefs to cook for your group. You simply choose from our chefs’ menus starting from £30pp. The chef will bring the shopping, cook up a feast and clean up in the kitchen, so you get to enjoy a fabulous time with your friends without having to worry about the cooking.