Celebrating Heritage and Innovation: Getting To The Roots With InterContinental Bahrain’s Emmanouil Kyriakidis


If there’s one thing Emmanouil Kyriakidis loves more than food, it’s to feed. He embodies lifelong learning while crafting dining experiences at InterContinental Bahrain that blend innovation, expertise and his Greek heritage. With over three decades of experience in the hospitality world and a deep passion for the flavours of his home, the Director of Food & Beverage gives us his insights on what makes a restaurant special, how he maintains top standards, and his journey in the industry.

In your opinion, what makes a restaurant special?

The most important aspect of any restaurant is the quality of the food. Fresh ingredients, a skilled team of chefs, and delicious flavours come first. Providing a unique and memorable experience to the guests comes second. Finally, the ambience and atmosphere with the right lighting, décor, and seating arrangements contribute towards a welcoming and enjoyable environment for guests.

How do you ensure your restaurants always meet the highest standards?

To ensure our restaurants always meet the highest standards, we prioritise quality control at every level of operations. This includes staff training to maintain consistency in food preparation and service, regular audits for cleanliness and compliance with safety regulations, acting upon customer feedback, and staying ahead of industry trends to adapt and improve our offerings. Our commitment to excellence drives us to continuously review and enhance our practices to deliver exceptional dining experiences to our valued guests.

What are your thoughts on Bahrain’s F&B sector?

The F&B sector in Bahrain is a dynamic and thriving industry with a diverse range of culinary experiences to offer. From traditional Bahraini cuisine to international flavours, the country’s dining scene caters to various tastes and preferences. With a growing number of restaurants, cafes, and food concepts emerging, Bahrain attracts locals and tourists seeking unique and memorable dining experiences all year round. Therefore, it is very important that we keep innovating. 

For example, one of our success stories is the Gourmet Master Series, at our Legendz Steakhouse. Once a month I don my whites and prepare a 7-course gourmet meal with wine pairings. It has become so popular, it is sold out the moment it is announced. 

Bahrain’s innovative spirit and passion for gastronomy make it an exciting destination for food enthusiasts looking to explore new and exciting flavours. 

What are some of your favourite traditional Greek dishes and how have you incorporated them into the offerings at InterContinental Bahrain?

There are several traditional and Classic Greek dishes that I am very fond of, and they have become my favourites. The first dish that I am crazy about is the “spanakopita” (a spinach and feta pie). One would think the reason is the authentic Greek feta cheese, or perhaps the spinach. Au contraire, the reason is the sublime mix of the two, plus onions and dill wrapped in a handmade artisanal crispy phyllo dough. 

The second dish is “lahano-dolmades” (stuffed cabbage rolls). Man, that dish is good. It is a hearty, comfort dish, that I enjoy eating, topped with the queen of Greek sauces, a delicious lemony “avgolemono” (egg and lemon sauce). 

The last is our “Arni Gastras” (a slow-cooked lamb shank with potatoes). Being slow-cooked allows the lamb shank to become tender and absorb all the flavours of the Greek spices, making it a signature dish worth trying. 

Among many others to try are, “Tzatziki”, “Tyrokafteri” “Keftedakia” “Greek Moussaka”. Being Greek, I’ve taken it upon myself to incorporate these dishes into the menu at “Rigani”, a Greek, pop-up dining concept, that opens every evening at 6.30 pm, at InterContinental Bahrain.

Tell us about your journey in the hospitality industry and how it led you to Bahrain.

Although I initially studied computer programming, I have earned my reputation as a renowned figure in the culinary world with a career spanning 35 years in the hospitality industry. My parents also worked in the hotel industry. I started from low ranks in the kitchen and worked my way up while traversing several sectors such as hotels, catering, fine-dining restaurants and retail operations.

An exceptional time in my career was when I served as the executive chef in charge of food & beverage operations at HM King Abdullah bin AbdulAziz’s palaces in Saudi Arabia.

I hold a Diploma in Culinary Arts and a Bachelor’s degree in Business Management and Organizations and currently pursuing an MSc in Innovation Management and Entrepreneurship.

For us chefs, it’s common to continue growing within the culinary field or to expand our horizons by taking on an all-encompassing role managing F&B Operations. My decision to take on a wider role was a natural progression in my career, and I’m grateful to InterContinental Bahrain for entrusting me with this responsibility for the last 3 years.

What are some of your favourite places to eat in Bahrain?

Apart from our restaurants, Bahrain has a wide range of choices and culinary experiences depending on your personal preferences. I usually like to visit Haji’s Cafe in Manama. Haji’s is to Bahrain what a typical ‘local’ eatery is to any other Kingdom. It’s a bit on the rough side, but the machboos that come out of its kitchen should not be trifled with. Clay, Fusions by Tala, and Agora are some of my favourites as well.

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