With a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering, but a devout passion and talent for French baking, Waddah Bou Saad incorporates his knowledge and expertise in the pastries that he creates at La Serre Bistro & Boulangerie in Dubai.
Waddah’s family has a long history in the pastry trade, which dates back to his great-grandfather. Growing up, Bou Saad found himself immersed in the kitchen from an early age where he learned the elementary elements of baking. As he grew, Waddah developed those skills professionally and has been rewarded for his efforts by becoming the Head Pastry Chef at La Serre. Though his parents desired Waddah to become an engineer, he’s celebrated great success within the culinary arts.
Waddah began his career in Syria prior to moving to Lebanon and ultimately settling in Dubai in 2007. His tenure at the Palace Hotel in Abu Dhabi provided him with invaluable experience before he joined La Serre in 2013.
With a passion for the art of traditional French baking, Waddah embraces the opportunity to be creative in both the techniques that he uses, as well as the ingredients within his recipes. Bou Saad’s specialty is the éclair, which allows him to incorporate his trademark artistic flair as he decorates the delicate pastries. The result of his attention to detail is quite simply food as art.
Waddah particularly favors working with chocolate and sugar to construct his truly beautiful creations. He notes, “Chocolate is notoriously tricky to work with because of its melting temperature, but once this challenge has been overcome, it can really bring pastry to life!”
Dr. Nasrine Abushakra had the opportunity to speak with Waddah Bou Saad about his favorite foods, places and spaces, as well as his flourishing career as Head Pastry Chef at La Serre Bistro & Boulangerie in Dubai.
Tell me about your personal experience of being a Head Pastry Chef here in the Middle East.
I love Dubai, I’ve been here for a few years now and am proud to call this inspirational city, home. I have had the opportunity to work with some incredibly inspiring chefs from all over the world which has helped me grow and develop my skills to become the chef I am today. The variety of flavors, cultures and influences that Dubai has to offer has helped shape the way I bake. Joining La Serre as Head Pastry Chef has taught me the importance of French baking, and we pride ourselves on our authentic patisseries.
Why did you decide to work here in Dubai?
I am originally from Syria and family is extremely important to me, so I didn’t want to be too far away from them! Dubai is the perfect city for my field, full of dessert fanatics and lots of opportunities to be creative with pastry. La Serre offers a wide variety of desserts and pastries and allows me to experiment with flavours and ingredients – keeping the work we do varied and interesting!
For those not familiar with La Serre Bistro & Boulangerie, what region is your culinary style modeled after?
La Serre’s French/Mediterranean influence has shaped the way we cook and serve our dishes. All of our desserts are very French, with classics such as Mille feuille and caramel éclairs to more traditional desserts such as the extremely popular Tarte tatin. It’s important to master the basics well and then build on the techniques used in traditional French bakery to create truly innovative variations.
What has been your impression of the local food scene over the years here in the Middle East?
The food scene has definitely developed over the last few years here in the Middle East due to the increase in foreign investment and the introduction of globally established chefs to the region. Dubai is competing on the global stage with other leading culinary cities around the world and I feel privileged to be a part of the constantly evolving dining scene here in Dubai. The more influences that come over from abroad add to the multicultural diversity of the restaurant scene.
When you manage to find a little time to step away from La Serre, what are some of your favorite spots to dine or socialize?
I love La Serre, it’s my go to spot for authentic Mediterranean food with a great ambiance. The Bistro Bar is where I like to catch up with friends over some light bites from the Bistro kitchen. I also love Arabic cuisine and there are many casual places that do excellent local food. At the weekend, my favorite place to relax is one of the many beachside cafes.
What is your favorite restaurant, besides the one you work?
If you had not pursued a Chef career or the life of a rogue restaurateur, what do you think you would have been?
I am very creative and love fashion, so maybe I would have pursued a career in the fashion industry, as a stylist. I like beautiful things that are well made and have a story, which translates in my cooking!
What three ingredients MUST you have in your kitchen?
Chocolate, Eggs and Sugar.