Watch: Pakistani 5-star chef becomes cabbie in UAE

Anjana Sankar /Abu Dhabi Filed on March 12, 2017 | Last updated on March 12, 2017 at 05.49 am
Watch: Pakistani 5-star chef becomes cabbie in UAE

(Anjana Sankar)

The heartbreaking story of how an expat went from working with Michelin Star chefs to driving a taxi in UAE.

If you happen to hail Zohaib Ashiq's taxi in Abu Dhabi, don't mistake him for an ordinary cabbie. A trained chef, this 31-year-old Pakistani expat has worked with two five star hotels in Abu Dhabi, and can rustle up a Spanish meal in no time.

"I was working at the Italian restaurant Burlesque in Yas Viceroy Hotel in Abu Dhabi as a commis chef till May 2015. But when it closed down unexpectedly, I became jobless," Ashiq told Khaleej Times.

Previously, he had worked at Catalonia - Rosewood Hotel's Spanish restaurant, for a year.

"When I came to the UAE in 2013, I got an opportunity to work as a steward at Rosewood Hotel. That is where I learned the basics of cooking. But unfortunately after my training period, they did not give me a permanent position," said Ashiq who has been working with Al Ghazal Taxis for more than a year now.

But his dream of wearing the chef's white uniform came true when he got recruited by Yas Viceroy in 2014.

"That was a proud moment for me when my boss said I am ready to wear the uniform after a few months of training. It was an honour to have worked with Michelin Star chefs and learn from them," said Ashiq.

He said he was responsible for the starters section and would prepare ten different types of tapas, tortillas, burgers, club sandwiches and salads every day.

Watch: Pakistani 5-star chef becomes cabbie in UAE (KT10937311.JPG)

"I was heartbroken when I heard the restaurant is closing down. I wanted to learn so much and become an executive chef one day," said Ashiq.

Though he got an immediate offer from a Dubai hotel, a six-month labour ban prevented him from taking up the job.

"Luckily, I had a driving license, and so applied for a job as a taxi driver in Abu Dhabi. When I attended the interview, they were amused to hear I was a chef, and gave me the job,"

But even now - while spending more than 10 hours behind the wheel - Ashiq's heart is still in the kitchen.  

"I do miss cooking. Even while driving, I try to remember how to make pastas and paella. I also watch YouTube videos often so that I don't forget what I learned. Inshallah! I will be a chef one day again."



Anjana Sankar

Anjana Sankar is a UAE-based journalist chasing global stories of conflict, migration and human rights. She has reported from the frontlines of the wars in Yemen and Syria and has extensively written on the refugee crisis in Bangladesh, Iraq and Europe. From interviewing Daesh militants to embedding with the UAE army in Yemen, and covering earthquakes, floods, terrorist attacks and elections, she has come out scathe-free from the most dangerous conflict zones of the world. Riding on over 14 years of experience, Anjana currently is an Assistant Editor with Khaleej Times and leads the reporting team. She often speaks about women empowerment on her Facebook page that has 40,000 plus followers.

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