My UAE: Musabeh Essa Alfardh Alali is full of tasty ideas

A profile of the Emirati food entrepreneur Musabeh Essa Alfardh Alali.

Musabeh Essa Alfardh Alali at his Fashion Sweets Cafe in Umm Al Quwain. Sarah Dea / The National
Powered by automated translation

Food over fitness – that was the choice Musabeh Essa Alfardh Alali and his brothers, Ahmed and Mohammed, made when they decided it was time to make their business mark on the UAE.

“There were so many ideas of what sort of business to make, such as a gym that has lots of exercises explained on an iPad so any trainer can learn,” Alali says. “But after we did a bit of research, we found out that the most successful businesses are food and beverage businesses.”

This realisation led them down the foodie path. They wanted their business to be unique, ­allowing prospective customers to try something new. In 2013, Fashion Sweets was born.

“We planned to start with unique treats – cookies with unique style and taste, and to have a unique logo – a cute owl that can be memorised fast.”

Baking was a hobby for the ­Alalis before their business began, but they’ve since put themselves through courses in Dubai and learnt as much as possible via the internet and magazines.

“Our biggest inspirations are Laura Vitale and Byron Talbott, the best [foodie] YouTubers. We have learnt a lot from their work,” says Alali. “I love all kind of baking, however I always want to create my own way, so [when] I find a recipe, I like to change it and make it different.”

The first treats to come off their production line were branded chocolate-filled cookies, which were made with Nutella, Kinder, Hershey’s, M&Ms and Galaxy. While the passion was in full supply, there were some challenges – for one, men being in the kitchen was a hard sell to their father.

“My father, Essa Alfardh, has ­always encouraged us to make our own business, but he was against men in the kitchen,” the 26-year-old says.

But the trio persevered, and launched the first Fashion Sweets Cafe in Umm Al Quwain City in September. It began mainly as a takeaway establishment, but they plan to turn it into more of a sit-down dining spot in the future.

What is your favourite book?

Any of Manuela Kjeilen’s books on baking.

Do you have a favourite recipe?

I love my cookies and cup cookie recipe – loved by all our customers.

Describe yourself in three words.

Loving, laughing, gentle.

What's your favourite place to travel to?

Europe. I love it for the weather and the greenery.

What's your biggest weakness when it comes to cooking?

Fish. I cannot cook it or eat it well. Someone else will help me to get it done.

What CD do you currently have playing in your car?

Rashed Al Majed is my favourite.

Which famous cook inspires you?

Gordon Ramsay, because he is a chef who knows how to cook all kind of dishes. He has branches of his business all over the world. He started MasterChef in the United Sates, and that is my dream one day, to be a chef and to make my first programme for MasterChef.

If you could have a superpower what would it be?

I would love to be perfect in all skills – games, cooking, driving, flying, wizardry, maybe.

What do you do to relax?

A bath with ice will do.