Coronavirus: jobless Dubai chef lands new role as Caribbean flavours prove a recipe for success

Alvin Flynn's homestyle cooking impressed the owner of Bob's Fish and Chips restaurant in Dubai Marina so much that he was offered a job on the spot

Alvin Flynn, left, has bounced back from a job loss after wowing Vinay Khosla, right, owner of Bob's Fish and Chips, with his Caribbean cooking skills. Antonie Robertson / The National
Alvin Flynn, left, has bounced back from a job loss after wowing Vinay Khosla, right, owner of Bob's Fish and Chips, with his Caribbean cooking skills. Antonie Robertson / The National

A chef in Dubai who was left out of work because of the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic landed a new job after impressing a restaurant owner with his unique Caribbean cooking style.

Alvin Flynn, 41, said he felt hopeless after he was let go from his job in March days before his six-month probation was up.

The father-of-two was unable to fly home to his family in Dominica because of the border closures in the UAE.

When his job search hit a dead end a friend told him that a restaurant was offering free meals to people struggling during the pandemic.

Less than two weeks later he was employed to work in that same kitchen and has since helped to create a special menu featuring homestyle Caribbean dishes.

“When Alvin came into the restaurant for a free meal as part of our #BobsCares initiative, I had no idea he was a chef,” Vinay Khosla, owner of Bob’s Fish and Chips shop in Dubai Marina, told The National.

“We got chatting and I found out he was from the Caribbean so asked if he would be willing to cook me some of his favourite homestyle dishes.

I went from losing my job and feeling totally isolated and alone to creating my own dishes for a popular restaurant, all during a pandemic

Alvin Flynn

"He made curried goat and chicken stew and it was a total wow moment.

“Growing up in Manchester in the UK, I used to eat that kind of food a lot so it really brought me back to my younger days.

"I immediately wanted to put it on our menu.”

Despite some initial scepticism from his family, who had doubts about adding Caribbean dishes to a traditional fish and chips shop, the decision was made to update the menu.

And 10 days later, after sitting down with Mr Flynn to create six unique dishes, including jerk chicken and bakes, creole fish and rice and curried goat and coconut kidney bean rice, the new menu was introduced on July 15.

Alvin Flynn went from customer to employee at Bob's Fish and Chips in Dubai Marina. Antonie Robertson / The National
Alvin Flynn went from customer to employee at Bob's Fish and Chips in Dubai Marina. Antonie Robertson / The National

“If you asked me in March if I would be doing this right now, I would have said no way,” Mr Flynn told The National.

“Now, here I am back in the kitchen cooking food from a menu that I helped to create.

“I’ve been a chef for 15 years and always had a dream of creating my own menu.

“I went from losing my job and feeling totally isolated and alone to creating my own dishes for a popular restaurant, all during a pandemic.

"It has taught me miracles do happen and that good people like Vinay do exist in the world."

Mr Flynn, who has lived in Dubai for six years, said he decided to become self-employed late last year and started working with two businessmen to launch a Caribbean-style burger restaurant in the city.

But within six months the Covid-19 outbreak began like a "wrecking ball and turned things upside down", he said.

In the past week, more than 200 dishes from Mr Flynn's menu have been snapped up by customers.

He said his wife, who is from Jamaica but living in Dominica, was the inspiration behind the dishes.

“My wife and mother-in-law taught me the basics of cooking and introduced me to all the different spices and flavours,” he said.

“As for how I cook real homestyle food, it’s a secret family recipe and I guess that’s what makes it unique."

Updated: July 21, 2020 06:31 PM

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