Adlah Al-Sharhan and Sheikha Al-Nafisi

Partners and friends, Adlah Al-Sharhan and Sheikha Al-Nafisi started Umami, the first culinary school in Kuwait. Umami provides classes for all ages and teaches students the basics of the culinary arts to how to cook gourmet meals in various types of cuisines. Al-Sharhan and Al-Nafisi recently launched their newest, and very exciting, project called "The Private Supper Club." Curious as always, the Khaleejesque team sat down and had an exclusive interview with the culinary experts.

Khaleejesque Team: Being an exceptional chef doesn't come easily, can you tell us a little bit about your background?
Adlah Al-Sharhan: I studied my bachelors in Eco-psychology in Trinity University in Washington DC, and also attended the Cordon Bleu in London and studied Culinary Arts; I later did my masters at the University of Houston, Texas, where I majored in Hotel and Restaurant Management with an emphasis in Culinary Arts. I also worked in various
restaurants in the United States one of which Houston's Steakhouse and Monsoon in Scottsdale, Arizona as well as the Atlantic Bar and Grill in London.

KT: What inspired you to pursue the culinary arts?
AS: When I was a kid I was very much into sports and cooking and my family played a big role because they love food. I also spend a lot of time with my grandmother in the kitchen, so I was exposed to the Kuwaiti cuisine.

KT: What would you say is your favorite dessert?
AS: KDD Sarookh ice cream!

KT: What is Umami all about? What makes you different than other cooking schools?
Sheikha Al-Nafisi: Umami started five years ago, and so far we have had more than five hundred students. Of course we only accept eight people per class, as we like to concentrate on each student and give us our full attention. We have worked on various projects including Culinary Consultancy, Cooking School, TV Show in Ramadan called 'Bar oo Bahar.' We are also working on writing a book at the moment.

KT: Tell us about your newest project The Supper Club. What can we expect to get?
SN: It's pretty much a highly customized private supper club where you can have a seated dinner and create your own personalized menu with catering in a private room. Each menu is customized for the specific client, there can be set menus, or created menus. Of course the set menus are according to what the client prefers, and any other client will not be given the same menu. Before planning, the client needs to meet with the chef to discuss their personalized menu. It's very important that the client mentions if there are any allergies or have any health problems of the sort.

KT: How did you come up with the concept?
SN: The newest thing in Culinary world is "privacy" and that's what were targeting.

KT: When did you start ?
SN: We always did private catering, but seated dinners started in August 2010.

KT: What is the maximum and minimum amount of people you can have in the room?
SN: We can host a minimum of eight people and a maximum  of 14. Apart from seated dinners, we can also have a set buffet.

KT: Do you charge per person?
SN: We charge according to the menus, and how many dishes (per head). Prices start from KWD 150 per dinner.

KT: How early do we have to book in advance before a dinner?
SN: Preferably one week before the dinner, because supplies sometimes takes a week for purchasing.

KT: What does the Private Supper Club consist of?
SN: 3-7 course meal, dining area and a small seating area, beverages, theme, flowers, music, scents, and your own personalized menu which you get to keep as a souvenir!

For more information on booking for an event contact and check out Umami's website
By: Deemah Al-Fuwaires

– Images: Deemah Al-Fuwaires and Umami

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