Day in the Life: Emirati chef cooks up success from love of TV food shows

Sultan Kayed found himself drawn to Gordon Ramsay’s series and channels those lessons into his businesses

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“A Day in the Life” allows you to step into the shoes of a UAE resident to experience a typical 24 hours in their work and home life

Emirati chef Sultan Kayed doesn’t just know his way around Dubai’s kitchens – he’s grown up in them.

The owner of burger joint Goat opened his first pizza restaurant, Lit Pizzeria, in Dubai’s Al Khawaneej this month, after more than a decade of flexing his culinary muscles around the city.

After graduating from the International Centre of Culinary Arts in Dubai, Mr Kayed honed his craft in local restaurants, picking up recipes and cooking tips from seasoned professionals.

He went on to master the art of pizza-making during a stint in Italy, melding lobster and beef short rib variations with Italian classics for his inventive menu at Lit.

Today, as well as being a restaurateur, Mr Kayed, 26, is also a food blogger, offering local tips and recommendations.

Here, The National joins him on a typical day spinning pizzas, sampling burgers and rooting out the city’s most tantalising hidden gems.

9am: The morning grind

After answering emails and messages from staff and suppliers, Mr Kayed heads straight to Goat’s central kitchen to oversee production.

“We grind the meat and make all the sauce from scratch so I like to make sure everything is running smoothly,” says Mr Kayed.

“I like to be connected to every detail from ordering and quality checks to meeting with suppliers and tasting samples.”

For Mr Kayed, the kitchen is where he feels most at home, having spent much of his childhood pestering his mother in one.

“When I was a child, I loved to help with the family meals and I always wanted to travel the world and try different cuisines,” he says.

“I was obsessed with cooking shows like Fatafeat [made in the UAE, which celebrates Middle Eastern food] and Gordon Ramsey’s shows and I used to try to recreate their dishes for my friends when we were young.”

Noon: The undercover boss

One of Mr Kayed’s favourite duties is sampling the food in his three restaurants – often without prior announcement.

“I like to show up when they least expect me to taste the food and check that the kitchen is clean,” he says.

“Sometimes I’ll even arrive before opening or come straight from the airport to catch the staff off guard. I probably eat around 10 burgers and three pizzas a week.”

Mr Kayed also enlists the help of his friends to keep restaurant standards high.

“I often ask my friends to stop by and try a particular burger or pizza so I can get their feedback,” he says.

“One time during Covid, half of the staff were off, as they had tested positive, so I invited my friends to work in front of house and the kitchen, it was crazy.

“They were all dressed up in Goat uniforms taking orders and flipping burgers. Service was a little slower that day, but it was amazing to have all my friends pull together.”

7pm: Uncovering hidden gems

Once he’s finished scoping out his kitchens, Mr Kayed samples the menu of other chefs across Dubai, posting his findings on his Instagram page.

“Usually, I’ve had more than enough pizza and burgers for one day so I’ll go for sushi or some sort of Asian dish,” he says.

“I get a lot of my inspiration from other cuisines, and I’ve travelled around the world learning different techniques. Asian and European chefs are always really interested to learn about Emirati flavours, too.”

When opting for Emirati cuisine himself, Mr Kayed looks for Arabian hospitality and a traditional setting, often venturing to the Northern Emirates for an authentic experience.

“Kumo Cafe in Ras Al Khaimah does great tea and egg sandwiches. Al Sayadeem is amazing for Emirati food. I love every mouthful,” he says.

“In Dubai, I love the breakfast at Arabian Tea House in Al Fahidi District. It’s amazing.”

10pm: Karak chai and Premier League football

Evenings are spent enjoying a karak chai in a cafe or majlis, though the peace can be disturbed by the tensions of a Premier League football match.

“I support Chelsea and relaxing in front of the match is where I am happiest,” he says. “Then I might have a walk around the park and think about new menu ideas.

“We recently brought out a pink burger at Goat for October [for Pinktober, the breast cancer awareness month] and we have an emoji menu at the moment, so I like to stay creative,” he says.

“I’m always on the lookout for new opportunities and this time in the next six to 12 months I hope to have another two restaurants. That’s the next challenge I’m setting myself.”

Updated: November 14, 2023, 4:03 AM