From Gulf Air sales executives to chef and owner of NQ’s Cookery, the journey has been an exciting one for Nader Qannati
Tell us something about the transition.
I started my career with Gulf Air in 1993, in the Sales Department. At that time, I was also pursuing my higher education in Banking and Finance at Bahrain University. I gave up my job at Gulf Air in 1998, though I was enjoying my life travelling places and exploring cultures, to join the banking industry. But when the banking sector started seeing a decline, the idea of having my own restaurant struck me. I’ve been cooking at home and for friends for the past 17 years. A push from family and friends gave me the strength to follow my passion. I travelled to Paris to join the Alain Ducasse School of Cooking to study cooking and enhance my skills. I also visited Spain and Singapore later for the same.
What motivated you take to cooking in life?
I have grown up in a large family consisting of parents, grandparents, uncles and aunts, and everyone is passionate about food and cooking. So it was natural for me to have an affinity towards the art.
When did you open your first restaurant in Bahrain? How is it different from others?
I opened my restaurant in November 2015. I’m as involved in the kitchen as my assistant cook or the rest of the staff. I believe a relaxed mind can create wonders and hence I’ve strived to create a homely atmosphere at my restaurant. The ambiance (a cottage-style house with pleasing French design and décor) too has been designed keeping the same in mind. All this ensures that we deliver our best.
What’s your signature dish?
It’s Spanish Paella. I had loved it the first time I had it. My version has a twist and I mostly focus on seafood since we live on an island. I usually combine European, Far East and Middle Eastern flavours.
You are now the captain of the ship. How different is it than being an employee?
Being a boss hasn’t changed me at all. We work as a team. I believe it leads to better productivity and helps develop new ideas in a healthy environment.
Cooking is considered a women’s forte, but 90% of chefs are men. Your thoughts.
Women are naturals when it comes to making the right choices of food. As far as men being good chefs is concerned, I feel one reason for it can be that they are more open to taking risks.
A lot of people hesitate to follow their passion fearing financial instability. Your word of advice for them.
It certainly requires guts to take such a step. But keep believing in yourself. My advice to everyone is, take a good look inside your self, identify what you’r good at and follow your heart. Rest will follow.
Do you plan to open more outlets in future?
Frankly, right now I’m not thinking of it. I have to make sure that I fully stand on my feet with no mistake, which is very hard as every person makes mistakes. But you have to keep learning from it. But I do wish to have a branch at Oman (Muscat) someday.
Written by: Abhishek Chakraborty