“From flipping a chapatti to Best Maldivian Chef”

Twenty-seven year old, Mohamed Adil was born in AA. Mathiveri but raised in S.Hithadhoo, Addu. He has been in the industry for the past 7 years, beginning his career at Four Seasons as an apprentice before being promoted to a full-time employee in their kitchen. Recently, he has shifted his career path to Vakkaru Maldives and has been working there as a Junior Sous Chef for the past year. We had a small chat with him during the Hotel Asia Exhibition and International Culinary Challenge 2018.

Adil tells a fascinating tale of his journey into the hospitality industry. He claims to never have been much of a cook. He had “flipped a chappati once in a while” and admitted that he “didn’t even know how to make instant cup noodles”. After finishing his studies in Sri Lanka, he came home to join his family business but always felt dissatisfied. Faced with pressure to take charge of the family business, in an industry he did not enjoy working in, Adil impulsively applied to interview at Four Seasons. He did so while accompanying his friend interviewing for a job there as well. Fortunately for Adil, the GM saw potential in him and ended up offering him an opportunity in their apprenticeship program instead. At the time, Adil was unaware of the prestige of working at Four Seasons and how it would go on to impact his future.

Before he began the apprenticeship, Adil spent a month as a steward. During this one month, he tried cooking in his free time starting with making pizza. He found that he actually enjoyed his work and it was a refreshing change of pace from previous office jobs.

In 2016, Adil won the Best Maldivian Chef award at FHAM. He recalls the unexpected but wonderful feedback he had received on the beef dish he had prepared in the competitions Team Challenge. This is only the 4th competition he has participated in yet he has won many medals. He had hoped to win the Best Maldivian Chef at this year’s International Culinary Challenge but admits to having slipped up in two out of three challenges he had participated in. His first dish was ruined due to under seasoning because he had forgotten to taste test and the other was raw. He believes the competition was a reminder to be meticulous in all the components of the dish, from freshness of the ingredients to seasoning. He is just happy to participate and considers the competition to be a learning experience.

He is known to be a sushi chef with many positive comments found on trip advisor and Instagram. However, he personally does not like to eat complicated or flavorful dishes, instead Adil prefers to eat either a simple tuna fried rice or cup noodles with katta sambol.

A misconception about the hospitality industry he would like to address is that people don’t seem to believe there are many talented local chefs in Maldives. He attributes the lack of recognition of locals to the demotivating belief that Maldivians can’t become executive chefs. He encourages other local chefs to explore and expose themselves to the exciting cuisines outside of Maldives.

Adil, himself, has attended the World Chef Congress this past July held in Malaysia. He aspires to one day work overseas. Despite not having any formal training other than the four seasons apprenticeship program, Adil has made a career in the culinary industry. Judge Rohan also complimented Adil and hopes to see similar local youth take part in the industry as well.

Adil won Best Maldivian Chef Award at the Hotel Asia Exhibition and International Culinary Challenge 2018.

Words by Afaaf Adam