Fares Alshara is the Executive Sous Chef of Four Seasons Hotel Toronto in Canada. He has an overall experience of 16 years in culinary operations in various hotels and restaurants. In the month of September 2022 he moved to Canada with his family. He started his culinary journey with Four Seasons Damascus in Syria in the year 2007 while still studying hotel management. Later he received a fantastic job opportunity in Dubai to be part of the opening of Burj Khalifa in (Armani Peck), the Italian restaurant. Chef Fares has worked for 5 years in Armani Peck and he moved around the outlet instantly to keep learning. In 2015 he moved to Palazzo Versace pre-opening team as Sous chef to lead the banquet and event department.
He has also worked in Enigma restaurant under chef Björn Frantzén and chef Quique Dacosta who is a two star Michelin chef. After three fabulous years and lots of learning and growth he moved to Caeser’s Palace where he was also part of the pre-opening team. He was in charge of the banquet department with massive capacity as well as the all-day dining and room service. In 2021 Chef Fares moved to SLS Hotel Dubai as Executive sous chef leading a team of 115 chefs.
Do you have a favourite time of the year or set of ingredients that you look forward to working with?
I do get excited about the variety and possibilities that different seasons can offer ! There’s something wonderful about the freshness of spring produce—bright greens, tender asparagus and vibrant berries. Summer brings an abundance of fruits like juicy peaches and ripe tomatoes perfect for salads and refreshing dishes. Fall brings a rich harvest with squash, wild mushrooms, pumpkins, and apples, ideal for cozy recipes. Then there’s winter, which offers comforting root vegetables, hearty greens and citrus fruits to brighten up those colder days. Each season offers its own unique ingredients and flavors to explore.
What would you do if you weren’t a chef?
If I weren’t immersed in the culinary world, I might gravitate towards environmental conservation. Protecting and preserving our planet is crucial, and working in this field could involve advocating for sustainable practices, researching solutions to environmental challenges, or even engaging in community education to promote eco-friendly habits. It’s a way to contribute to a healthier, more sustainable future for all.
Do your personal preferences influence the menu at all?
Sometimes not always, the key for this is great quality prepared in a simple way and served with love. I don’t influence menus based on my likes or dislikes. However, I can suggest recipes or dishes based on popular tastes or dietary considerations. Chefs and cooks often create menus based on what their audience enjoys, dietary needs, seasonal availability of ingredients, or even cultural influences. So while I don’t have personal preferences, I can certainly help tailor suggestions to fit various tastes and needs !
What do you think is the most over-hyped food trend currently?
Super foods and a trend that’s received a lot of attention lately is plant-based alternatives to meat and dairy. While it’s fantastic that there are more options available for those seeking plant-based diets, the hype sometimes leads to the assumption that all plant-based products are automatically healthier choices.
When are you happiest?
As a chef, I’m happiest when I see people savoring and enjoying the food I’ve prepared. That moment when a dish brings a smile to someone’s face or sparks a conversation among diners—that’s when I feel the most fulfilled and content in my role. Creating culinary experiences that evoke joy and satisfaction in others is truly the highlight of being a chef.
As a father, my happiest moments often revolve around seeing my son thriving. It’s those simple, everyday moments like sharing laughter, hearing about their day, or witnessing their excitement over something they love. But beyond that, it’s in those times when I can offer guidance, support, and see him growing and developing personality. His happiness and well-being truly become the source of my greatest joy as a parent.
When you’re not in the kitchen where can you be found?
When I step out of the kitchen, you might find me in a variety of places. I often enjoy exploring new restaurants and eateries, both to appreciate different cuisines and to gather inspiration for my own cooking. so you might spot me at the gym, Additionally, I cherish spending quality time with friends and family, whether it’s hosting gatherings at home or simply enjoying a leisurely day out together.
What’s your favourite takeaway or comfort food?
Flat Breads – shawarma and pizza is definitely one of my top choices—it’s versatile, satisfying, and there’s just something about a good slice that feels like home. Thai green curry is another favorite; the blend of flavors and the warmth of the spices is incredibly comforting.
What makes the local food scene so exciting?
The local food scene is exciting as it celebrates the unique flavors, traditions, and stories of a specific region. It’s a vibrant tapestry of tastes and culinary styles that reflect the culture, history. From traditional family recipes passed down for generations to innovative chefs crafting new dishes with local ingredients, it’s a delicious journey that connects people through shared experiences and a deep appreciation for local flavors and heritage.
Which is the dish you’ve created that you are most proud of and why?
I personally believe it is difficult to recall something as your own creation in dishes after many generations of culinary experts and a loaded history of culinary art. I believe that as a chef, it is essential to explore, compose, and bring flavour and texture to a dish. I always try to add my own Mediterranean flair to the dishes. Cherry Kofta or Hazelnut Falafel are dishes that i have created and i am proud of.
You’re having friends over for dinner tonight. What’s on the table?
For a dinner with friends, I’d love to create a memorable meal that’s flavorful and allows for a relaxed, enjoyable evening of sharing good food and conversation. Here’s a menu that might be on the table:
- A vibrant mixed green salad with cherry tomatoes, cucumber, feta cheese, and a tangy balsamic vinaigrette
- A choice of herb-crusted roasted salmon fillets with a lemon-dill sauce or a flavorful vegetable and chickpea tagine for a vegetarian option. Sides could include a wild rice pilaf and sautéd garlic spinach
- Individual servings of a decadent tiramisu or a refreshing fruit salad with a drizzle of honey and a sprinkle of mint leaves
- I’ll set up a small bar with options for cocktails, mocktails, and a selection of wines, ensuring there’s something for everyone’s taste.
Name your favourite city that has it all: food, culture, and nightlife.
It’s tough to pick just one so i will name a few more such as Barcelona, London, NYC and Dubai. But If I have to chose one i will go for go for Dubai. Food-wise, Dubai is a melting pot of cuisines from around the globe. You can find everything from traditional Emirati dishes to international fare served in luxurious restaurants and street-side eateries. The city hosts various food festivals, and its diverse culinary scene caters to a wide range of tastes. Culturally, Dubai has a unique mix of modernity and tradition. Dubai nightlife, top upscale scene, stylish rooftop bars overlooking the city skyline to trendy clubs hosting international DJs.
Aleppo cherry kofta is a wonderful variation of the traditional kofta, incorporating the distinctive flavors of Aleppo pepper and cherries. Here’s a recipe that combines these flavors beautifully:
- 500g ground meat (beef, lamb)
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup breadcrumbs
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper flakes
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Olive oil to taste
For the Cherry Sauce:
- 2 cups fresh cherries, pitted and halved
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon ginger, minced
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 cup vegetable broth
- 1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon powder
- 1 teaspoon Coriander powder
- 1 teaspoon Butter
- 1 teaspoon sugar
Prepare the Kofta:
- In a mixing bowl, combine the ground meat, chopped onion, minced garlic, breadcrumbs, egg, Aleppo pepper flakes, salt, and pepper.
- Mix the ingredients thoroughly until well combined.
- Shape the mixture into small meatballs (kofta).
Cook the Kofta:
- Heat some oil in a frying pan over medium heat.
- Add the kofta to the pan and cook until they are browned on all sides and cooked through. Remove them from the pan and set aside.
Make the Cherry Sauce:
- In the same pan, add olive oil if needed.
- Sauté the chopped onion until translucent, then add minced garlic and ginger. Cook for another minute.
- Stir in the tomato paste, Aleppo pepper flakes, salt, and pepper. Cook for a minute to combine the flavors.
- Add the fresh cherries and cook for a few minutes until they start to soften.
- Simmer the Sauce:
- Pour in the chicken or vegetable broth and bring the mixture to a simmer.
- Allow the sauce to simmer for about 10-15 minutes until it thickens slightly and the cherries are fully softened.
Combine Kofta and Sauce:
- Once the sauce has thickened to your desired consistency, gently place the cooked kofta into the cherry sauce.
- Simmer for an additional 5-7 minutes to let the flavors blend.
- Garnish the Aleppo cherry kofta with a sprinkle of Aleppo pepper flakes and fresh parsley or cilantro.
- Serve hot with rice, bulgur, or pita bread.