Dabbir Aklek, the Arabic version of a BBC action-adventure cooking contest titled No Kitchen Required, is coming to Quest Arabiya on October 28.
The series takes five prominent chefs from the Arab world out of the comfort of their kitchens and drops them into remote areas around the world. There, they have to work together with locals to hunt, gather and cook meals using traditional methods. Their food will be judged by the local tribes, who will choose a winner.
The production, which explores landscapes and cultures, marks the beginning of a strategic partnership between Quest Arabiya, a factual entertainment channel, and BBC Studios.
HUNGRY FOR CONTENT
Natasha Hussain, vice president and general manager for the Middle East and Mediterranean at BBC Worldwide, said audiences across the region are searching for programmes that mix a local flavour with high production value.
“No Kitchen Required delivers on this promise with its exciting combination of competition, well-known personalities and familiar, yet exotic, locations,” she said.
Hussain has been handling this region at the BBC for more than 10 years. She spoke to Gulf News tabloid! in 2016, after the launch of bespoke channel BBC First on the pay network OSN, and emphasised the BBC’s commitment to putting a local spin on their existing franchises.
She said audiences in the region were particularly interested in the popular UK cooking show The Great British Bake Off.
“It’s one of the highest rated shows in London, the UK and around the world. We’ve got over 20 local versions now. That’s something my team is really exploring a lot of interest in, in terms of making the Great Arab Bake Off, for example,” said Hussain.
SURVIVING THE WILD
Dabbir Aklek is an Arabic phrase, which suggests that a person is on their own figuring out what to eat. Hosted by Bahraini stand-up comedian and actor Waddah Swar, the show travels through the wilderness of the UAE, Romania, Jordan, Morocco, Oman and Saudi Arabia.
The original BBC America series first aired in 2012, tracking three professional chefs — Madison Cowan, Michael Psilakis and Kayne Raymond — who explored different cultures and cuisines, ditching their commercial kitchens and learning how to cook the old-fashioned way.
The 10-part Arabic version features Emirati chef Saud Al Matrooshi, Saudi Arabian chefs Khaled Arif and Badr Fayez, Kuwaiti chef Adlah Al Sharhan and Egyptian chef Wesam Massoud.
Khalid Khouri, general manager of Quest Arabiya, said he was confident that the Arabic version would reach the same level of success as the original.
“Especially with the growing interest in foreign adventures and activities among Arab viewers,” said Khouri.
MEET THE CHEFS
Saud Al Matrooshi, UAE
Saud Al Matrooshi is the executive sous chef at Emirates Flight Catering — and the first Emirati chef to hold the position. Al Matrooshi has always had an interest in the food industry, but initially followed a more traditional and socially accepted path, studying Communication Technology. He even considered becoming a pilot, sitting for an entrance exam at an aviation college. But eventually, Al Matrooshi gravitated toward his lifelong passion: cooking. Before landing his prestigious role at Emirates, Al Matrooshi trained extensively, honing his skills at Grand Hyatt and Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club, and proving himself in the kitchen.
Khaled Arif, Saudi Arabia
Chef Khaled Arif hails from Saudi Arabia. After learning from some of the top chefs in Europe, such as the Michelin-starred Edgard Bovier, Arif now focuses much of his attention on Asian cuisine, and has travelled across Europe and Asia to experiment with his work. He has restaurants in Cairo, Jeddah and Dubai, and offers consulting to other restaurants, helping with their concepts, design, recipes and menu creation. Arif has previously appeared on TV as part of a cooking segment on the MBC morning show, Sabah El Kheir Ya Arab (Good Morning, Arabs).
Badr Fayez, Saudi Arabia
Badr Fayez has a Culinary Arts degree from Johnson and Wales University in America. The Saudi chef runs a bakery and two restaurants — Muse, which serves high-end seafood and Kome, which offers sushi. Fayez is also the CEO and the executive chef of Badr Fayez Catering, which he launched in 2009. Prior to Dabbir Aklek, Fayez appeared as a judge on Master Chef Arabia in 2014. He was also a guest judge on season two of Top Chef Middle East.
Adlah Al Sharhan, Kuwait
Adlah Al Sharhan, who goes by the affectionate nickname Chef Adoola, is a self-professed ‘disruptive innovator’. The trained chef and restaurant consultant hails from Kuwait but specialises in classical French food, with a Master’s degree from Conrad N Hilton College, University of Houston. Al Sharhan has spent more than 10 years cooking around the world and helping restaurants to launch across continents. Earlier this year, she consulted on the grilled cheese restaurant Melting Point, which launched in Kuwait.
Wesam Massoud, Egypt
Once a licensed physician, Wesam Massoud switched career paths and followed his hunger for cooking, becoming one of the most prominent chefs in Egypt. Now, Massoud is a board member of the Egyptian Chefs Association, and his credits include being executive chef and partner of the Chef’s Market Restaurant in Cairo. Massoud also works as a TV and radio host, food writer and the owner of a restaurant consultancy company, Arabesque Foods. He has long been an ambassador for contemporary Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisines.
MEET THE PRESENTER
Waddah Swar, Bahrain
Hailing from Bahrain, Waddah Swar is a seasoned stand-up comedian and actor, who began his journey in the late 90s. He was inspired by the 2002 comedy special Martin Lawrence Live: Runteldat, and began climbing up the ranks of the comedy industry himself, performing alongside such names as Russel Peters and Eddie Griffin. Swar also opened for Ahmed Ahmed and Maz Jobrani in 2008, as part of the Bahrain stop of their Axis of Evil comedy tour.
Don’t miss it!
Dabbir Aklek premieres at 8pm on October 28 on Quest Arabiya. The channel is a partnership between Discovery Communications and Image Nation Abu Dhabi. The channel focuses primarily on factual and reality-based programming for thriller-seeking viewers.