“At home, Abdulla is my chef,” Emirati entrepreneur Amer Al Tamimi says of his son.
Abdulla does not protest. In fact, he's happy to be the family's official chef de cuisine. “But my father is the arbab,” he quips, admitting who's the boss.
The bond between Amer and Abdulla, and their passion for cooking, has manifested in Quince, a restaurant that opened last month in Umm Suqeim, Dubai.
“My father likes it when I do weird things with food, and experiment with different ingredients and cooking styles,” says Abdulla, who discovered his culinary passion when he was a teenager.
“Travelling with family, going to restaurants and trying different cuisines really sparked my passion for food and cooking.”
This passion for cooking, as well as Abdulla's keen curiosity, are reflected in the menu. The restaurant serves Mediterranean dishes with an “artsy twist”, say the duo, referring to the attention they give to plating. Dishes include smoked beetroot, salmon croquette and seafood risotto. There is a brick oven for pizzas, as well as a bakery that doles out fresh bread every day.
Perhaps the biggest influence the father-son duo brings to the restaurant is their decades-long experience in art and design. They also own home interior companies DecoArt and D&D Home.
That influence is immediately apparent. Attached to 700 Padel & Fitness Hub, which Abdulla also owns and runs, the restaurant is spacious and airy, with high ceilings and a dining area that doesn't feel crammed. The cosy venue is replete with natural elements – wood and stone – and has a muted colour scheme.
“Our background in interior design strongly exemplifies how Quince, which is truly our labour of love, is deeply rooted in our passion for aesthetics,” says Abdulla. The restaurant features a D&D Home showroom, which displays some of the brand's luxury decor.
Amer says, food aside, Quince is also about “weaving a sense of community”, which is why there is so much focus on the space itself. The restaurant will eventually feature a cigar lounge to capitalise on the community element.
For Abdulla, Quince is for “like-minded people who want to have a good time”.
Aside from the space, the food is also treated with the same aesthetic eye. The baked goods, in particular, look like mini sculptures and figurines.
'Incredible sense of creation'
Although Quince is the family's first venture out of interior design, Amer says running a restaurant does not feel completely out of their comfort zone.
“In both, there's this incredible sense of creation, and that's where the connection lies,” he says. “Design is embedded in every nook of the restaurant, from the decor to the way a dish is presented, so the blend of the two concepts has been quite seamless.
“The transition has been like moving from one canvas to another, but the artistic drive remains the same,” he adds. “Not much changes when you want to create something beautiful, whether it's a room or a plate of food.”
While Abdulla takes a more prominent role in the day-to-day running of the restaurant, the journey has been fruitful for both of them. They describe working with family as a “blessing”, and less of a challenge to professional success.
“Trust is at the core of it all,” says Amer. “Our bond was always strong to begin with, but working side by side takes it to a whole new level.”