Chef of the Month: Abdulla Shareef, Senior Chef De Partie, Adaaran Select Meedhupparu

Abdulla Shareef grew up in a small island community, in the island of R. Meedhoo, known for its carpentry and boat building. These trades that required creativity and dexterity provided Shareef with genes that would serve him well. Now a seasoned chef with over 20 years in the industry, Hotelier Maldives spoke with Shareef to learn more about his culinary journey.

HM: What drew you to the culinary profession and started you on your journey to become a Chef?

AS: It was a bit of good fortune, mingled with the influence of my friends. My father was a fisherman and as a child I would help clean and cut the fish and learn ways to prepare and cook it from my mother. I am not good with the sea, so I knew I could not be a fisherman, consequently, I applied for a position at a nearby resort where some of my friends worked. I passed the interview and joined Adaaran Select Meedhupparu as a steward when I was just 17. Part of my job was to help set up the international buffets where I would see all the dishes displayed and became interested in food. My friends encouraged me, and I changed course to becoming a trainee chef and have never looked back.

HM: Where did you learn your skills?

AS: I learnt as I progressed. I learnt the basics from the Chef de Partie and Sous Chefs, plus I watched videos on the internet and YouTube, and my skills developed.

HM: Who has had the most significant influence on your career to date?

AS: There have been many through the years. Family and friends have always been a source of support and motivation, plus the working environment and array of great chefs that Adaaran Resorts has, such as my current Executive Chef, Chef Lakshman who I have worked with for the past 10 years.

HM: Of all the many facets of your role, which do you enjoy the most / find the most rewarding?

AS: So many things, in particular ice and vegetable carving, as I love being creative and making pieces for the special buffets and festive occasions. I also enjoy my work in the cold kitchen and find participating in competitions and training young chefs in my section especially rewarding.

HM: Did the pandemic affect your career path?

AS: It didn’t affect my career path as such, although it did have an effect on me as the resort closed with the outbreak of the pandemic. However, I was lucky, as I still received my salary while having the chance to spend time with my family, plus help with building and construction projects on my island. It also gave me the chance to build a new house for my family, learning some new skills such as tiling in the process.

HM: What do you consider are upcoming food trends in the Maldives and why?

AS: Local food and cultural experiences. People are more aware of the places they travel to and want to understand local culture, customs, and traditions. At Adaaran Select Meedhupparu we work at integrating local Maldivian food into our menus so that our guests get a real sense of what Maldives is all about through its tastes and flavours.

HM: Tell us a unique/interesting fact about yourself?

AS: I absolutely love singing and fruit carving! I have won several awards and trophies for my singing. I also sing with the Bodu beru groups at the resort for cultural events after I finish in the kitchen.

carving 2 PM

HM: What do you do to relax?

AS: I play football, watch football, love watching movies, and different types of shows on TV. I also practice my fruit carving.

HM: What do you consider are the key attributes/skills required to become a good chef?

AS: Be ambitious and punctual. Learn the basics first; knife skills, different cuts, and preparation techniques. It takes a lot of practice and patience as there are a lot of technical skills to master. Focus on what you want to achieve, work hard, be open to new ideas, learn daily and the sky is the limit.

HM: What do you consider the greatest challenge in working in a kitchen?

AS: Getting the right team, who want to learn and have a passion for the industry! Communication can also be a challenge due to different nationalities of the resort team and the guests. Consistency of supply can also be a great challenge, we are reliant on our supply Dhoni, so if there are delays or issues in the supply chain, I have a shortage of items for the dishes and must be inventive.

HM: What has been the highlight of your career to date?

AS: Being an award winner at the FHAM challenge 2014 is an achievement I feel proud of. Also, I am now recognised as an expert in my local community and get asked to help for special events such as wedding parties which is a great accolade.

HM: Where do you see yourself in another 5 years’ time?

AS: As a head chef for one of the Adaaran Resorts, ideally at Adaaran Select Meedhupparu, as it is where I have learnt everything.

HM: You have been at your current property since the start of your career, what has enticed you to stay?

AS: Several things, they are close to my home island so I can go home and be with my family every night which is important for me. Plus, Adaaran Resorts is a well-known and reputable company with a name for culinary so there are lots of training opportunities and a very positive learning and development culture.

HM: What advice would you give aspiring chefs?

AS: The culinary industry is rewarding and gives lots of opportunities. Keep learning, watch how things are done and use local ingredients. We all have a responsibility to take Maldivian cuisine to the next level and give our food the international exposure and recognition it deserves.

HM: What is your favourite ingredient to work with?

AS: Passion. When you are passionate, any ingredient is good, and you will be able to make the best out of it. I love using local ingredients such as tuna and coconut, as they are so versatile and form the foundation for many traditional dishes.

HM: Do you have a favourite signature recipe to share?

AS: Certainly, it is a very traditional dish – Valho mas (smoked fish) & Egg Mashuni Salad

Sig dish )

Ingredients – 2 servings

Copee Leaves                                    02 Nos (10gr)

White Cabbage                                 100grm

Valho Mas (smoked fish)              50grm

Hard Boiled Eggs (White)              02 Nos

Grated Coconut                                100grm

Onions                                                  50grm

Curry Leaves                                      05grm

Githeo Chili                                         2 Nos

Lime                                                      01 No.

Salt                                                         To Taste

Crust Pepper                                     To Taste

Maldivian Roshi

White Flour                                        100grm

Corn Oil                                                02 TSP

Hot Water                                           100ml

Salt                                                         To Taste

Roshi Preparation

  1. Mix all the Ingredients together and make a dough. Separate the dough into small balls.
  2. Roll the small dough balls out into thin roti.
  3. Heat the grill and cook the roti.

Salad Preparation

  1. Grind onions & grated coconut together with chopped Maldivian Getheo chili.
  2. Finely slice the Valho Mas and chopped curry leaves add to the mixture.
  3. Next finely chop the Copee leaves and cabbage.
  4. Add hard-boiled egg wedges to the mixture.
  5. Next add lime juice, salt and crushed pepper, mix well.
  6. Serve the salad together with Maldivian roshi.
Janet Smailes is a Food Safety Consultant and Trainer from the UK who has been in the Maldives since 2013. She has a strong hospitality background with kitchen and operational experience to bring a practical focus. You can reach her on janetfhc1@gmail.com
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