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Getting to Know You: Saher Samir

Updated: Jul 23, 2021

A series of Q&As with members of the vibrant Irish international community to share their cultural heritage, food memories and stories.

Saher Samir is the head chef at the residence of the Egyptian ambassador in Dublin.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I am 34 years old. I am from Egypt, born and raised in Tanta, a small city located north of Cairo. I grew up with one brother and one sister, and I am married with a son and twin daughters.

At the beginning of my career, I studied Culinary Art at the Faculty of Tourism and Hotels at Cairo University. I then started working as a chef in 2008. In 2009, I went to Dubai. After three years of hard work, I went back to Egypt

In Cairo, I worked at a hotel for six years. At that time, I was also attending a cooking class conducted in an academy in Egypt called the “Preparation Academy for Culinary Arts”. It was a very tough time during my life, as I was working while I was studying. At the hotel, I was promoted as garde manger for the “cold kitchen”. Then for eighteen months, I worked as a sushi chef with a professional Asian chef. He was very friendly and taught me everything about sushi. After my sushi journey, I worked in a pastry kitchen to learn Far Eastern sweets for one year. Then I started engaging in the hot kitchen in the hotel’s main restaurant.

Step by step, I kept receiving promotions until I became Chef de Partie. Then,I left my hotel to work in an Italian restaurant until I got a Junior sous chef promotion.

In 2019, I came to Ireland to work as the main chef at the residence of the Egyptian Ambassador.

Do you love to cook? Who are the best cooks in your life?

Yes, I cook everyday and I love cooking. It brings me joy, and I personally consider one of the most important things in life is to make food that tastes good.

The best cook I worked with was the Italian chef at the Italian restaurant where I worked. He taught me many skills. I owe him the world.

What is your favorite dish and your favorite food memory?

Egyptian cuisine is definitely my favorite type of cuisine. It is characterised by vegetables and fruits derived from the phenomenal Nile river. Egyptian cuisine is considered similar to East Mediterranean cuisine, as some foods are shared like rice stuffed vegetables, grape leaves, shawarma, kebab, humus, falafel and kofta.

My favourite dish is kushary. It is very nourishing. It consists of a mix of legume proteins, pasta and rice, and it is very delicious with a garlic vinegar sauce, tomato sauce, and Middle Eastern seasoning. It is amazing and I would highly recommend it to anyone new to Egyptian cuisine.

Other favorite dishes to make besides kushary are shrimp konafa with chili sauce, falafel and sweet baklava with nuts.

I also love Italian cuisine. I love risotto with seafood, pizza, pasta and many more Italian dishes.

Where do you shop?

I usually get most of my ingredients from Tesco, Dunnes, halal shops and sometimes Musgraves. Those are the places that contain most of the Arabic ingredients I require for my dishes. It is difficult to locate the required halal meat in Ireland because the butchers here use different cuts and techniques.

Are you particularly excited about the cuisines of other cultures?

I am excited to learn new cuisines like Moroccan, Brazilian and Mexican, since they each contain a wide variety of dishes that I would love to taste and learn.

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