The Maslow Hotel in Sandton has welcomed a new, yet familiar face, to its culinary offering, as Algerian-born Chef Omar Menhouk takes on the role of Executive Chef. With more than 20-years’ cheffing experience in some of the continent’s most exclusive properties, he returned to Gauteng in December 2020, after working in neighbouring Swaziland.
- Chef Omar Menhouk has cooked for celebrities including Sir Richard Branson, the First Lady of Zambia and the Royal family of Saudi Arabia.
- He drinks up to six espressos a day.
- Chef Omar Menhouk speaks five languages including Arabic, Swahili and Italian.
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Chef Menhouk first arrived in South Africa in 1994 to open a well-known French restaurant in Pretoria before moving into his first foray cooking for Sun International guests. Early in his career he worked as a Chef de Partie at Sun City from 1998 until 2001 and returned as Executive Sous Chef a year later. Since then, he has cooked his way up to his most recent position of Resort Executive Chef at the Royal Swazi Spa.
Having worked for a member of ‘the Leading Hotels of the World’ as well as one of the world’s most exclusive game lodges in Kenya, Chef Menhouk prides himself on attention to detail and knowledge of many of the world’s leading cuisines – he doesn’t look at the time, but rather, he looks to see if a job is done.
During an interview on The Sandton Times Podcast, Chef Menhouk revealed more of his experience, cooking for Branson.
He is such a wonderful man to work for – very humble. He is down to earth, both him and his family. I was very lucky.
// Chef Omar Menhouk
His mentors include Graham Wood, Sun International’s Chief Operating Officer of hospitality and Australian Chef Peter Washbourne, to whom he attributes having “built my name and my career when I worked at The Palace at Sun City”.
Chef Menhouk enjoys creating innovative dishes and says he enjoys cooking with lots of herbs and spices. These include turmeric, ginger and Himalayan salt. In his own fridge, Chef Menhouk says he always has fresh vegetables, lettuce and all types of fruit, as well as lamb, fish or calamari.
Chef Menhouk is using the quieter period during the Covid-19 lockdown to adapt the menus and add some exciting dishes. In line with the growing trend for vegetarian and vegan dishes, these dietary requirements will also be catered for, as well as Halal and Kosher friendly if requested 48 hours in advance.
For years, The Maslow Hotel has been a popular choice for business conferences, weddings, baby showers and birthdays and Chef Menhouk misses the usual buzz that keeps a 5-star kitchen moving. He hopes that an increase in feet through the door will allow him to trial his new flavours, innovative dishes and bring new culinary talent onboard.
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