Osama Kutaini, Owner Of Byblos - Fine Lebanese & Levantine Cuisine

  • 26 Sep 2019 2:55 PM
Osama Kutaini, Owner Of Byblos - Fine Lebanese & Levantine Cuisine
1. What’s been happening at work and at home since your last XpatLoop interview?

Click here to read his last interview

Buddha-Bar Hotel’s dining room, which was famous in Budapest and which I managed, has closed. I was travelling a lot for work, and had many different experiences and learned a lot. I have a son now, and he and my daughter are the most precious gifts for me.

2. What is your professional goal for the next five years?
I would like my new place, Byblos Budapest, to become known as a special place to go for great food. My brother and I are passionate about cooking. We’ll open a special street-food place with the same name and serve Lebanese food there as well.

3. Who was the best cook in your family?
My sisters. They are good in different areas. The first one makes great marmalade; the second makes the best pickles; the third one makes perfect rice dishes; and the fourth one does shawarma. My brother is the best Lebanese (Levantine) cuisine chef.

4. What is your fondest food memory?
Kabsah. My sister serves it on a big tray, with rice, chicken, etc. We sit on the floor around it. I haven’t been home since 2008, but this memory has stayed with me. 

5. What was the first recipe you learned?
Cordon bleu, in 1997, when I was a student.

6. What is your favourite food to eat?
I eat everything. Mainly seafood and fish. These days, I have gulyásleves every week.

7. How often do you create new dishes?
I play around with food every day when I’m in the kitchen and I learn new things all the time.

8. When did you start cooking, and why?
I started in 1997 because of my brother. We got together every two or three weeks and he was always talking about how much fun chefs have. He put the thought in my mind that I might make a career as a chef and made me face many challenges.

9. Which chef do you admire most, and why?
I am proud of Széll Tamás. He got two Michelin stars and now has his own restaurant. As a Hungarian chef, he is a big name. I worked with the Austrian chef Reinhold Nagler in 2002 in Saudi Arabia. He gave me lots of challenges, which taught me a lot.

10. What was your funniest kitchen incident?
In October of 2007 at the Four Seasons in Dubai I forgot about the bread in the oven on the first day of the soft opening. The fire alarm went off!

11. How do you like to relax?
I enjoy gardening, and watching my kids play.

12. What is your most treasured possession?
My knives.

13. What has been the luckiest moment in your life so far?
I think when I came to Hungary. I was lucky to meet my wife, and lucky to have lots of family members and friends to support me.

14. What single thing would improve your quality of life?
Maybe my restaurant – it has only been open for a couple of months. 

15. What career other than yours would you love to pursue?
I would like to teach and guide others, so: coaching/training.

16. What does your typical day look like these days?
I wake up early, and try to take my kids to óvoda (kindergarten). Then work: meetings from morning till noon. I schedule how to run the kitchen, and run new ideas past the staff. I like serving our customers and usually I get home late.

17. What is your favourite personal achievement to date?
I am very happy with what I have achieved so far. I had the goal to become a chef at 32 and have my own restaurant by 40. I worked hard and I am honest. I give my job my best effort. Whatever you put in, you get back.

18. What qualities do you most like in others? 
In Hungary, people are friendly. My colleagues are very friendly. When you’re away from Hungary, you realise how friendly people here are.

19. Which superpower would you choose?
Speed! I like it. 

20. Is there anything else you would like to mention?
I have a new challenge in my life, running my own business and restaurant. After working for the last 22 years in five-star hotels, it’s very different. We have 116 different types of tea, and each one has a story. I’m learning those now. In the future at Byblos, we plan to do afternoon tea and a family Sunday brunch.

Proofread by Robyn Flemming
Robyn is an Australian freelance editor and proofreader, with clients in Australia, Asia and the Middle East. 

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