Tala Bashmi, often referred to as the voice of modern Bahraini cuisine, has been named as the winner of the first Middle East & North Africa’s Best Female Chef Award 2022. Chef- patron of Fusions by Tala in Bahrain, Chef Bashmi will be presented with the inaugural award at the debut edition of MENA’s 50 Best Restaurants, set to take place at Abu Dhabi in February 2022. The esteemed award forms part of the 50 Best organisation’s mission to honour female role models within the culinary industry and represents the first pre-announced award of the Middle East & North Africa’s 50 Best Restaurants 2022 programme.
A passion for creating nostalgic culinary experiences for her guests drives Bahraini-born, Swiss-trained Bashmi. Learning about Middle Eastern cuisine and her cultural identity from her father through his in-depth knowledge of the ingredients used, this education soon turned into a calling, as Bashmi witnessed first-hand the joy that a well-prepared dish could bring. Beginning her career through a home venture called Baked by T, the chef’s desserts became especially famous in Bahrain, garnering her numerous fans.
Following this initial success, Bashmi joined the Culinary Arts Academy in Lucerne, Switzerland, where she gained a Masters in International Business in Culinary Management. During her time in Europe, she held roles at the Grand Hotel Les Trois Rois and Michelin-starred restaurant Prisma, learning how to run restaurant operations as well as working in fast-paced kitchen environments.
Upon her return to the Middle East, Chef Bashmi competed in the acclaimed MBC show Top Chef (Middle East & North Africa) show, finishing in the finals and showcasing the modernised Bahraini cuisine that she would become famous for.
She took over Fusions by Tala, at the renowned Gulf Hotel, Bahrain, in September 2017 priding herself on the concept’s willingness to experiment with ingredients and techniques used around the world and incorporating these into native Bahraini dishes. The restaurant was renovated and relaunched as Fusions by Tala in February 2020. Signature creations include Bamia, traditional okra and meat stew developed using off cuts, and modernised using wagyu beef cheek, crispy okra glass and tomato broth rice, to capture the essence of the original dish.
“It is an absolute honour to be awarded with the first ever Best Female Chef award as part of the inaugural MENA’s 50 Best Restaurants 2022,” says Bashmi. “It has always been a dream to put my culinary heritage on the global map, highlighting it not only within the MENA region but around the world. One of my main goals as a chef is to bridge the gap between high-end gastronomy and simple food, making each meal a journey.”
The inaugural Middle East & North Africa’s 50 Best Restaurants awards ceremony, sponsored by S.Pellegrino & Acqua Panna, will be hosted in the UAE Capital on Monday, 7th February 2022.