'Happy, excited, shocked': 14-year-old chef meets Sheikh Mohammed, Hamdan at Dubai summit

She is passionate about introducing Emirati cuisine to the world and creating her own unique fusion dishes

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Lamya Tawfik

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Photo by Shihab
Photo by Shihab

Published: Wed 15 Feb 2023, 1:40 PM

Last updated: Wed 15 Feb 2023, 9:48 PM

"I was happy, excited, shocked, if there was ever a moment in which all the emotions were inside one person, that would have been me.”

This is how Aysha Al Obeidli, the youngest Emirati chef described how she felt when she met His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai and Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, during the World Government Summit.

At a very young age, only 14, she has already won many awards — including the first prize in the Arabic version of the program Chopped in 2021. She is passionate about introducing Emirati cuisine to the world and creating her own unique fusion dishes.

Her passion for cooking came at a very young age, helping create her “sophisticated palate” as she describes it.

“I sometimes go to restaurants that people are raving about and try the food but don’t quite understand the hype. I can immediately tell that the quality isn’t up to standard,” she said adding that it’s all about the ingredients.

In fact, developing an appreciation for ingredients is something that she has trained herself in from a very young age.

Her mother Wafa Abdulla said that when she was four years old, Aysha would sit next to her and taste the spices as she cooked. “I didn’t understand what she was doing then but I now know that she was strengthening her ability to discern different tastes,” she said. This is something that her mother encouraged her to do even more as she would often ask her to tell her what ingredients were used in different dishes.

Aysha who is not studying for a professional cooking diploma at the International Centre for Culinary Arts, says that she loves cooking because it allows her to get creative.

“There are no limits to what I can do. I love to try new things and I love blending the Emirati cuisine with that of other cultures,” she said.

She said that the first dish she did was an omelette. “I couldn’t flip it when I was six years old but now, I learned how to do it,” she said adding that her cooking inspiration is the renowned Italian chef Massimo Bottura. “His restaurant in Modena is the best in the world, there’s nothing like it. One day I hope to take a course with him,” she said.

She said that her big dream is to one day open her own Michelin-star chain of restaurants and her very own cooking institute. She would also love to have her own signature dish but that this is something she will only be able to figure out when she opens her own restaurant.

Wafa said that when Aysha was 6 years old, she would start preparing breakfast for the family and they encouraged her. “She also had a YouTube channel,” her mother added proudly.

“Everything I dreamed for her is happening. I wanted her not to just not be a good cook but to be a real chef. We are very happy and grateful for the support she’s getting,” said Wafa.

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