A FOOD LEGACY WITH ORFALI BROS
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Syrian chef Mohammad Orfali has turned his passion for food into a family affair by launching Orfali Bros with his siblings Wassim and Omar. The trendy bistro in Dubai serves reimagined Levantine dishes that constantly push the boundaries. Here, we learn more about the concept.
How did the idea for Orfali Bros come about?
My brothers, Wassim and Omar, and I traveled the world seeking inspiration. We aspire to enrich the culinary world with creations that are distinctly influenced by our roots and experiences. Although we have since discovered our own niche in the kitchen, our ever-growing appetite for adventure and baking continues to keep us together.
Our dishes are what we love to eat. We serve them because they connect us to our past and remind us of who we are. We want our cuisine to evoke a sense of creativity, pride and joy at the many possibilities that can be born from our kitchen.
What lies at the core of Orfali Bros?
When it comes to food, the ingredients, textures and flavors are primordial to us. Then comes the identity of the dish. The food is seasoned to perfection; it requires no additional salt or flavoring. If it does then there is something wrong, so I would need to get to the bottom of it with the client.
How do you define your culinary style?
I am inspired by everything around me. I am open to suggestions. Sometimes I find inspiration in a cookbook or from my close friends, inspire me. My roots certainly impact my culinary style as well. On a personal level, I consider myself an Aleppine chef and a food ambassador. After 14 years working with different cuisines, I’ve discovered my identity. However, at Orfali Bros, we don’t serve Syrian dishes; we are more of a bistro.
What is your favorite product?
I have no favorite because I work with everything. I am always trying to do something out of the ordinary. I don’t want to be similar to other Middle Eastern chefs who use the same ingredients: sumac, pomegranate, pomegranate molasses and zaatar. Our food has so much diversity and is centered on seasonality and sustainability. I appreciate local greengrocers, cheesemakers and jams made the old-fashioned way. There are a great many products to talk about, so I don’t want to highlight one in particular.
What inspires you when you’re creating a menu?
Sometimes, if I eat a specific dish at a friend’s house, I include it in the menu the next day. Our restaurant accommodates 60 seated guests (outdoor and indoor). We serve 150 clients a day for lunch and dinner, but we don’t offer delivery or catering.
Having a large menu is not something we are interested in as we don’t wish to jeopardize quality. We only accept takeaway when it comes to desserts. Our average bill is between AED 200-250. People come for the experience, the food and the story. Some of our regular customers want to hear the story over and over again. We have 20 items on the menu, and all of them are bestsellers. If you want to try Asian, we have around four dishes and the same number of Aleppine options to choose from. Those seeking a Mediterranean mix can pick from six dishes, in addition to 10 desserts.
The menu is updated every two months. We keep the 10 most popular dishes because many of our customers like to bring family and friends to try them.