Hospitality News Magazine: A food legacy with Orfali Bros
Syrian chef Mohammad Orfali has turned his passion for food into a family affair by launching Orfali Bros with his siblings Wassim and Omar. The trendy bistro in Dubai serves reimagined Levantine dishes that constantly push the boundaries. Here, we learn more about the concept.
What defines Orfali Bros?
We are three brothers who are chefs that love to eat the dishes we cook. Being from Aleppo, Syria, certainly inspires us in the kitchen.
People think of Orfali Bros as fusion cuisine, but we serve contemporary dishes with a hint of the traditional. Our menu is unique, so you won’t find classic items like tiramisu, chocolate fondant, brownies or croissants on it. We want to offer something different.
What are the greatest challenges you are facing?
It can be hard to make everyone happy, from the customers to the suppliers, as well as the team. It is also challenging to work with local farmers and source products from them. We try as much as we can to support the community by buying from farmers and local suppliers.
I try to keep my team happy and motivated. We do new things, like the pop-up we did with Chef Tarek Alameddine. I push them to read and appreciate food from different perspectives.
The biggest challenge that is particular to Dubai is making people understand who we are. I make the extra effort to visit each table and explain our concept. The food needs to be served with a story. Part of our philosophy is storytelling; we get inspired and inspire in return.
How does it feel to work with your brothers?
I consider my brothers as my own kids. They entered the culinary scene because of me. Passion is necessary, but it is more about dedication and attachment to your roots and heritage.
When we first established the company in 2015, it wasn’t an easy task to work with my brother Wassim. He was tasked with the pastries while I did the cooking. Omar, our youngest brother, wasn’t even contemplating working in the field. He was inspired by our project so decided to join us. Omar is a young talented chef following in the footsteps of Wassim, who started cooking at the age of 12.
We are nothing like the old generation of chefs. We like to teach and inspire others, which is why we started the Orfali School. At the beginning, when we launched our masterclasses, we used to quarrel a lot because of our differing viewpoints. But we then came together as Orfali Bros to give it our best.
The masterclasses were such a success that everyone kept urging us to open our own restaurant. We are currently doing very well. Mistakes happen, but we learn from them, which is very important. The sky is the limit. However, we are realistic. At the end of the day, we cook the food that we enjoy and people appreciate it.
What can you tell us about your masterclasses?
I have exposure with my cooking shows and through Instagram. The idea behind the masterclasses was to highlight my brothers. My brothers are quite low key. They do great work without bragging about it or interacting with people. I am the one who broke the mold. Since I did my cooking show, I no longer have a fear of talking to people. Most of our masterclasses were on contemporary French desserts executed in a style true to Orfali Bros. We started off by partnering with ICCA who supported us a great deal. In 2022, we are going to relaunch the masterclasses in a new way.
What are your future plans?
We don’t have plan B; we only have one plan, which is to work as hard as possible. With Covid-19, there are no guarantees, so we don’t know what will happen from one day to the next.
In the future, we would like to further highlight our desserts. Orfali Bros can’t and will not be replicated, so we will never venture into franchising. We want Orfali Bros to retain its personality and for people to visit us when they are in Dubai.