“I showed them what I can and that’s how the whole story began.” – Chef Mohammad Iqbal

In this one on one chat with EGO, we get to know the devoted chef behind one of the most legendary steakhouses in Dubai, JW Steakhouse –Chef de cuisine, Mohammad Iqbal.  In this exclusive interview, the shy chef talks about his beginnings, a thousand names and working at the steakhouse for 21 years.


What inspired you to be a chef?
When I joined in 1984, as a 20-year-old boy, I started as a steward. I was a part of the kitchen working with the chefs, so whenever I saw them working and creating these dishes and desserts, I realised that’s what I liked. One day, I asked the chef if I could come for training after I finish my duty. So for 6 times a week, for 3 hours I had a class with him, free of charge. They liked it and after a year they brought me into the kitchen as a Chef trainee. I showed them what I can and that’s how the whole story began.


How has Dubai changed since 1993?
It has definitely changed a lot. I still remember when I came here in 1993; my friend took me in his car and showed me Dubai’s tallest building, the Dubai World Trade Centre which has 39 floors. At the time, Sheik Zayed Road wasn’t even there yet.
What do you like most about living and working in Dubai?
I like the fact that it’s very safe here. In other countries, you can’t really go out at night alone. Here, since we work in a hotel, even if we finish working at 2 or 3 o’clock in the morning, it’s completely safe. I also like the fact that everything is here, from entertainment to restaurants…everything is here already.

So what do you enjoy most of being a chef?
I’m very proud to be a chef because people love me and what I do. I get appreciation not only from my Pakistani and Indian people but from all the other nationa

lities as well. I even got featured on Star World. We also have European and Arabic customers who come to the restaurant to ask if I am on duty. If I’m not they won’t stay, and if I am around, I already know what they want.

 

What would be a steak no-no?
Having a well-done steak. It is a waste of money – especially when it comes to wagyu beef. If you eat a medium rare or medium, you’ll feel the marbling of the steak.
What is the most interesting meal you have here at JW Steakhouse?
We have what we call our “Wall of Fame” where guests who finish a 25 oz fillet mignon steak and a bottle of Merlot grape receives a plaque on the wall. And also, regular guests who have visited the steakhouse for over 24 times receive a plaque with their name on their favourite table.


So how many names are on the wall now?
There are almost a thousand conquerors on the wall and roughly 800 names on the tables.
What would be your favourite on the menu?
Of course, it would be steak, preferably the ribeye. I don’t eat as much meat anymore but it would be the ribeye because it has a nice fat and meat when the fat goes onto the meat, it gives it this nice flavour.
What would you advise those people who aspire to be a chef?
I think everybody should be sincere with their jobs. Whatever it is you’re doing, do it with heart. My priority is our guests’ satisfaction. You should always do the best you can.

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