Saturday July 13th, 2024
Download SceneNow app

Cooking Up a Storm in Saudi with Restaurateur Basma Elkhereiji

In this exclusive docu-feature SceneNowSaudi meets the entrepreneur and culinary curator making an indelible mark on the Kingdom’s food scene.

Amy Mowafi

Cooking Up a Storm in Saudi with Restaurateur Basma Elkhereiji

To say that Basma Elkhereiji defies convention would be to fall headfirst into that cliche-triggered trap treacherously lying in wait at the edge of every story about a successful Saudi woman.

What she does is defy definition. She belongs in the kitchen, where she’s cooking up a storm in Saudi’s culinary scene presiding over 'ACL', a mushrooming food consultancy and logistics empire that operates and owns a dazzlingly diverse portfolio of food concepts and restaurants including The Social Bakery and The Social Kitchen, two of Jeddah’s most popular dining destinations. She’s also conceptualized and managed the catering and food operations for some of the Kingdom’s largest and most prestigious events. At the first edition of the mammoth Sandstorm music event in Riyadh she orchestrated the feeding of over 700,000 festival-goers.

She's happiest at home with the kids, two daughters who she’s bringing up to be independent, unaffected and wildly ambitious. Her 16 year old wants to study at Oxford University and eventually become an entertainment lawyer. Her 8 year old - who on the day we meet is wielding a large POS tablet as she very seriously serves customers at The Social Bakery - wants to become an entertainer.

She’ll passionately credit her family, friends and former husband for supporting and applauding her epicurean ambitions yet she’s a self-taught chef and self-made entrepreneur who moves through the world with the quiet self-confidence and cool clarity of a woman who has built things of her own and on her own. Indeed her outspoken and inspiring instagram posts about womanhood, motherhood and societal falsehoods having garnered her a keen following enamored by the trails she blazes.She’ll tell you she prefers it behind the scenes, at the back of house, clad in her signature black chef’s jacket, jostling with her team in the literal heat of it all. Yet she comes alive centre stage in an open kitchen personally serving up her latest culinary concoctions to a conveyor belt of customers-come-friends while dishing up sage words on life, love and… defying convention.

On the eve of the launch of two stellar new culinary concepts Alieia and Khalila and on the brink of an extraordinary regional expansion plan, entrepreneur, restaurateur, cultural commentator and mum Basma Elkhereiji lets SceneNowSaudi into her ‘social’ kitchen.