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Damascus Chef

Damascus Chef, also known as Abdullah Alawayed, grew up on a farm, surrounded by kitchen lore, in the North east of Syria - right in the heart of what archaeologists call the Fertile Crescent. He learned his trade in Damascus, fine tuned it in Amman, and started adding twists here in the UK.

 

Over the past 18 months since we started popping up at the Good Hope on Hither Green Lane, we've build up a strong following in South London, with one-off residencies in Clapham (at Devotion Coffee Traders), Peckham (at the Peckham Pelican), Lee, Shoreditch and on Kings Road.

 

Not only are we part of the rare few that use organic (& halal meat), cook our baba ganoush on real wood and hand strain our own lebneh; but we also juxtaposition rural and urban Syrian ingredients in a completely original way. This reflects Abdullah's upbringing in a Bedouin farming village and his knowledge of Damascus' Ottoman-inspired cuisine and lays waste to the idea that Syrian cuisine isn't innovative or stray from tradition.

 

We always strive to create immersive experiences for our guests by linking our dishes up with stories, folklore and modern culture that gave rise to them. We also see the act of eating as an experience in itself - which is why our first meze course is always shared, and we like to play with context with no-shoe dining concepts etc.

 

Our overall aim goes something along the lines of reviving dwindling rural cooking practices, working with local & seasonal ingredients inspired by Abdullah's Bedouin upbringing and doing away with any lingering stereotype that might deem Syrian or Levantine cuisine to be greasy, fatty, veg-free indulgence that you regret the morning after.

 

We tick lots of foodie boxes: we understand the importance of organic meat - and source it all from our own halal and organic butcher. We give prominence to ancient grains like freekeh & bulger, and are big on pulses from across the spectrum - from lentils to chick peas and fava beans to fresh broad beans.

 

We don't subscribe to borders. While our food is firmly rooted in the Middle East, Abdullah also uses the bedrock of knowledge he acquired growing up, working in restaurants in Damascus, and catering in Amman to inspire new creations with ingredients he got to know in London. Fish is a great example, absent from any traditional Shami cooking repertoire, you'll find his fish dishes popping up throughout our rotating seasonal menus.

 

We hand make everything we serve - barring bread, sweets and ice cream. We grind our own herbs, mix our own sauces, squeeze all our own lemons, peel all our own garlic, and un-shell our pomegranate, chargrill our aubergine on real wood, and hand string our own labneh - which certain knowledgeable sources have deemed "the best in London". You better come and check if that's actually true..

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