RIYADH: Jordanian food artist and molecular gastronomist Omar Sartawi, who is presenting his approach to the culinary arts at ongoing event InFlavour Expo, spoke to Arab News about his techniques and the concept of sustainability in cooking.
Most great chefs are artists, according to Sartawi.
“I use food as a medium … I use it as my canvas,” he told Arab News.
“Through my creations, I show people that elements of nature that we would throw away or call waste can be transformed into something luxurious and beautiful.”
Sartawi is currently collaborating with numerous international designers to merge the worlds of design, fashion, and food in order to create more sustainable furniture, jewelry, and apparel.
In one instance, Sartawi cured orange peels and eggplant skins to create a new material resembling leather, which he used to manufacture unique handbags and a luxurious table he named the “Duck a l’orange,” inspired by the popular French dish that combines duck with orange sauce.
“The purpose of the skin of fruits and vegetables is to protect the inside from outside elements, and that is also the case with leather derived from animals,” he explained.
To further his talents, he joined a six-month course by Harvard Online that draws on the expertise of scientists and the world’s best chefs, an experience Sartawi said allowed him to envision an idea, conceptualize it and turn it into a reality.
He explained: “The course provided me with the tools to actually explore and try to venture into (uncharted) territory. To be creative, you need culinary elements, but you (also) need the science to back that.”
Through my creations, I show people that elements of nature that we would throw away or call waste can be transformed into something luxurious and beautiful.
Omar Sartawi, Jordanian culinary artist
Sartawi is working with some of the best brands to develop bespoke experiences that inject an immersive element into fine dining.
“Previously, food was at the frontier, but now we are creating a melange of food, entertainment, theater, and music,” he said.
Speaking about his experience in the Kingdom, Sartawi said: “I love exploring cultures when I travel somewhere, not just to eat. When I came to Saudi Arabia, I found that the food is strongly embedded in the culture, and it’s something that people celebrate three times a day.”
He shared that he is working on a special project in honor of Vision 2030.
Inspired by the Saudi culinary scene, Sartawi decided to explore his creativity with jareesh, a popular dish in Saudi cuisine.
“I tried seven different versions, such as … risotto, croquet, and crackers by using jareesh as a canvas. Tomorrow at InFlavour, I will be cooking a creation of mine, which is jareesh ice cream,” he said.
Food has always been an essential part of the human experience, Sartawi said, describing it as “the most important activity we do.”
He added: “I am happy that the Middle East is being innovative and allowing ourselves a multidisciplinary approach to food … That is a beautiful thing.”