Chef Mahmoud Bayoumi comes from a large family and learned from a young age to work together in the kitchen. He oversees TEAN the way one might a family kitchen and an extraordinary casual dining experience is the result.
The first thing you might notice when you visit the restaurant TEAN in the Jumeirah at Saadiyat Island Resort is the view: stark white parasols dot pristine white sandy beaches overlooking azure seas. The second thing that you’ll notice is the service—it’s like no other restaurant in the city. The servers know the menu as well as anybody and take great pride in making spot on recommendations based upon any glint of information that you might give to them regarding your likes and dislikes. While that might not seem like breaking news in a city full of fine dining, it’s a somewhat rare occurrence in the capital to find a waitstaff so well-informed, and chef de cuisine Mahmoud Bayoumi has a lot to do with it.
Egyptian by birth, Mahmoud grew up in a house with 9 sisters and brothers. He learned early to share space and food and, ultimately, to cook from his father. Though he trained to become a teacher, he lasted a whopping 15 days in the profession, before he found his way into a pastry kitchen.
He progressed quickly through chef roles, eventually moving from oriental pastry chef to where he is today: a chef de cuisine managing a busy seaside resort’s kitchen. Mahmoud credits his father for his drive and his generous personality, which has
helped him become a mentor in the kitchen to this team.
We comment on the first-rate service and, with smiling eyes and a proud smile, Mahmoud says, “my staff is like one big family. Over my past 20 years in the kitchen, so many people have progressed alongside and under me in the kitchen. Busboys have become waiters, captains, assistant managers, and so on. I like to see staff grow—happy people are key to a successful business. I also enjoy getting their input on dishes, and they help me to constantly evolve our menu.”
And, the menu has evolved. Mahmoud explains that his team comes from all over the world, and they all have food traditions to share. He invites them to taste all the offerings on the menu, provide their honest feedback, and to make suggestions about how the food can taste even better. “Sometimes, my staff’s suggestions fundamentally change my recipes for the better, so I try to really listen to them—no matter what their function is—and to make sure they know that I value their feedback.”
In this era of celebrity chefs with mammoth egos, Chef Mahmoud is refreshing, and his happy and knowledgeable staff a testament to his altruism. The food is as good as the service. Levantine-inspired but with bold fusions, the food perfectly complements the seaside retreat. The ever-changing and perfect for sharing mezze is vibrant and fresh, with recipes that change depending upon what’s in season and Chef Mahmoud’s mood. On a recent visit, the beetroot moutabel and muhammara dips were colourful standout dips.
When asked about TEAN’s signature dishes, he smiles and shakes his head ‘no’ as if we’d asked him to name his favourite child. Like a wary parent, the chef quickly offers, “The salt-crusted sea bream is such a perfect fish preparation. The salt crust keeps the fish moist and the piquant chermoula/chimichurri fusion sauce between the skin and the flesh is so good. The mozza ghnam – sultana is a sweet and sour butternut dish that’s perfect for both vegetarians and vegans, and the lamb shank is also very popular, but you can’t really go wrong with anything on the menu. It’s all good, and I love every recipe equally.”
Like a proud parent, we believe Mahmoud truly means that. He clearly loves food, his family, his staff, and the very act of feeding people.
TEAN is open for lunch and dinner, Jumeirah at Saadiyat Island Resort, 02 811 4444