Saudi foodies ditch fast food for fine dining

Story highlights

  • Too many restaurants in Saudi Arabia are fast food chains, say chefs there
  • Saudi Arabian Chefs Association was founded three years ago and has 270 members
  • Chefs Yasser Jad and Emanuele Esposito are both aiming to open fine dining cookery schools
Yasser Jad has a dream to open a fine dining cookery school in Saudi Arabia.
He founded the Saudi Arabian Chefs Association three years ago to create a network among his country's best cooks and encourage them to improve their skills and now has 270 members.
But he believes there's more to do in developing fine dining.
Jad himself trained at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris and is now in charge of in-flight catering at Saudi Arabian Airlines.
"Most Saudi chefs begin without proper training," said Jad. "We have some courses but they don't take people to the level they need.
"As a result young chefs aren't surviving long in the market. They are leaving the industry after two or three years because they don't get paid a lot and the competition is so high.
"I wish everybody could have proper training."
Saudi Arabia's food scene is quickly becoming more varied -- and healthier -- as it incorporates influences from around the world, Jad said.
"Saudis have traditionally eaten too much lamb and not enough salad or vegetables," he said. "But tha