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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.

 

With an eighteen month long residency at the Good Hope, Hither Green Lane, and one-off residencies in Shoreditch, Kings Road, Clapham, Lee and Peckham, we've built up a strong, predominantly South London-based following. Our aim is not to condemn any of our customers to categories: be that based on the way they dress, their tastes, food habits or diets, or what they do all day. Let's just say we're great for vegans and carnivores alike, the gluten free and the hardcore gluten guzzlers, nostalgics, travellers and people who live in the here & now. 

 

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 see the act of eating as an experience in itself, and the need to revive and celebrate (yep, we prefer those words to "preserve") 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 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, hand string and crush all our own meze dishes  - which certain knowledgeable sources have deemed "the best in London". You better come and check if that's actually true..

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