“For me food is the one thing that binds us all – independently of culture, religion, or race. Whoever you are, food can make or break your day”, says 30-year-old Bahraini chef Tala Bashmi, who has taken over the helm at Fusions—the acclaimed restaurant housed inside the Gulf Hotel that blends Asian, Mediterranean and European influences.
As one of a number of emerging regional chefs, the young chef isn’t afraid to take risks, daringly marrying her classic savoir-faire she acquired in Switzerland, with her love of native Bahraini fresh ingredients and flavours.
Speaking to Bashmi, it sounds like the young chef always knew she wanted to dedicate her entire life to cooking. As a child, she recalls regularly going to the market with her dad and tirelessly looked for the best produce. “I remember my dad was obsessed with finding the tastiest Mehyawa (a Persian dish popular in Bahrain) in town”, she says reminiscing about her first foodie experience.
But although it’s obvious that Bashmi inherited her passion for cuisine from her family, she somehow didn’t feel confident in telling them that she wanted to pursue a career as a chef. So it wasn’t until she started university and found an old note she had written to herself, which said “Would it be so crazy if I went to culinary school?” that Bashmi truly realised this is what she had to do.
Currently working on a new sensorial experience at Fusions – inspired by British chef Heston Blumenthal’s scientific approach to cooking – Bashmi’s goal is to trigger an unprecedented renaissance of Middle Eastern cuisine. So MILLE asked her to curate a list of her favourite restaurants in the island country.
The best breakfast spot
Haji Café in Manama Souq is a casual and authentic street-side café offering traditional and generous Bahraini food.
Bab Al Bahrain, Manama Souq
Favourite place to get a quick bite
Tren Tren is where you have to go for street-food Bahraini tikka.
Al-Hidd, Muhafazat Al-Muharaq, Arad
The best healthy café in town
Green bar is my favourite. You instantly feel better after leaving this place!
Favourite spot for traditional food
This might sound odd but Mashwiyat al Naeemm makes a delicious grilled goat neck.
Avenue 38, A’ali Village
The ultimate fine dining restaurant
Rasoi by Vineet is an Indian restaurant with a Michelin star chef at the Gulf Hotel. The best.
The best place for a gastronomic experience
Chef Yann Bernard Lejard at Plum, The Ritz Carlton doesn’t do food – he does art.
The ultimate restaurant for meat lovers
The steak and experience are great at Cut lounge by Wolfgang Puck at The Four Seasons.
If you love Mediterranean food, you’ll love this
Fishbone at Novotel by Chef Susy Massetti offers rustic mouthwatering Italian-inspired food.