The 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.
While Damascus Chef drums up excitement on Friday nights @ the Good Hope Café on Hither Green Lane, new projects across Lewisham are in the pipeline, and fresh mezes are being chargrilled, crushed and hung for the Lee & Nunhead Food Assemblies.
New projects in the works for 2017 include an acoustic Oud and Nay nights - where you'll get to while the night away to the, raw live sounds of music from across the Levant. We're also planning a monthly nouveau cuisine night- to add a minimalist touch to our hearty, organic menu.
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..