Five Minutes With: Cove Beach executive head chef
Nasser Laziri on what brought him to his role, the keys to success and what makes Cove Beach a Dubai hotspot
When did you know you wanted to pursue a career in hospitality?
I grew up in a foodie household, with my father in particular being an incredible cook. During the school holidays I used to work in the local restaurants and that’s when I knew that my passion for cooking was going to turn into my career – I just love it! From there, I worked to gain as much experience as possible, watching and learning from many great chefs and cooks (including my father) to develop my own skills and my own food persona.
What would you say are three key things that have made you successful?
This is a tough question, because there are so many elements which come into play when I think of the things which helped get me to where I am today. But what really sets me apart is my sense of creativity, my communication approach, my desire to continue evolving my skills and knowledge, and consistency. That’s actually four things. Is that ok?
A sense of creativity is so important because it allows you to develop concepts and dishes in your mind and then experiment to find the perfect combinations to make a brilliant dish, and constantly push conventional boundaries.
Communication is important because it allows you to build relationships with staff, suppliers, customers – everyone! Chefs often have a reputation for yelling and being generally grumpy or angry, but I like to prove to people that that’s not always the case, and you can be a successful chef AND make friends along the way.
A desire to keep evolving is important for anyone who wants to be successful in any avenue of life. I think of myself as having an open window for learning and development and it’s helped me to grow and push myself constantly throughout my career.
My fourth element is consistency, not only in the high-calibre food I produce, but also in my interactions with people, my desire to keep pushing myself, and all aspects of my life. It keeps me steady and gives me clarity.
What is the main challenge you face in your role and how do you overcome it?
The biggest challenge I face is finding good chefs who share the same passion for good food, and desire to continue learning, as I do. When I look for team members I don’t look at their skills, I look at their drive, personality and ambition. I can teach anyone to be a good chef, but you can’t teach someone to be ambitious – they need to bring that fire in their belly themselves.
What are the elements that make Cove Beach stand out from its competitors?
Cove Beach is a stunning venue with an exceptional vibe – it just can’t be compared to other venues in Dubai. We always look for ways to differentiate ourselves which allows us to craft a narrative and create a truly distinctive experience for our guests. Every visit is unique, underpinned by a friendly familiarity which keeps people coming back time and time again.
Plus, we’re not just a beach club, we’re a lifestyle destination. We offer the perfect mix of atmosphere, food, drinks and entertainment. Our Two.0 restaurant has an incredible menu, and our beach menu isn’t just burgers and fries which you find at most venues. We always aspire to be fresh, from the food, to the atmosphere, and everything in between.
Is it becoming easier to source good ingredients?
The UAE is an amazing place to be a chef, because we’re literally in the centre of the world which gives us easy access to produce and ingredients from anywhere in the world. But, whilst we often incorporate international flavours, we place a strong focus on supporting local farmers and try to source ingredients from within the country, if not the region, as often as possible. We’ve always had great access to international products, but the local food sector is getting stronger each year, supported by the likes of events such as Gulfood, so it’s becoming easier to find what we need right here.
Do you have any upcoming projects or new launches you can tell us about?
We always have something in the works at Cove Beach! We have an ongoing roster of themed activations, but also have an incredible array of special events meaning there’s something for everyone. Some of the key projects we have coming up in February include a stack of Valentine’s Day packages for singles and couples on 13-14th, Hamac’s fashion show on the 24th, Wayne Wonder on the 27th and so much more. There’s also something massive coming soon for Cove Beach, but you’ll have to wait a little bit longer before I can reveal more. Stay tuned!