“Can an unlimited cuisine be offered without losing the cultural identity?” At Orfali Bros, Dubai’s Bib Gourmand award-winning restaurant, three brothers from Aleppo joined forces to break the culinary rules while maintaining their respect for Syrian culture. Mohamad Ørfali, one of Dubai’s renowned chefs, grew up in an influential family. His father, an engineer, and his mother, a teacher, played an important role in his and his brothers’ Aleppo roots.
The Aleppo brothers grew up in one of Syria’s most prominent and influential families, who did not welcome the idea of a culinary career. Despite not getting enough support from his friends and family, Mohammad, the eldest brother and best known of the three brothers, decided to enroll in a culinary school: “My father is an engineer. My mother is a teacher. Most of my family members are engaged in trade and all have higher degrees. I wasn’t that good at school. I entered the culinary world by chance through the culinary school, but I fell in love.”
Aleppo cuisine is a cooking art inspired by several ancient civilizations… It is a well-known fact that the city of Aleppo is one of the oldest populated cities in the world and is now one of the largest cities in the Levant. It has witnessed many civilizations including the Hittite, Nabataean, Assyrian, Persian, Greek, Roman, Byzantine and Islamic civilizations and is rich in unique and different materials that have been used in many civilizations for countless generations.
The details weren’t always clear, but his passion for food and all things food has led the chef to a career in the field. His passion also greatly influenced his family, as both brothers Wassim and Omar followed and entered the culinary world.
“I don’t believe anyone who says being passionate about food is enough!”
From the perspective of the MICHELIN Guide, Bib Gourmand: good quality defines a level worthy of valuable cooking. The home-cooked bistro at Jumeirah’s Wasl 51 is an unusual restaurant that bends all culinary conventions and defies cultural boundaries. Their aim is to serve non-traditional cuisine that captures the cosmopolitan and avant-garde essence of Dubai while respecting the brothers’ Aleppo identity.
Pursuing passion, Mohammad set an example for his younger brothers and it wasn’t long before his younger brothers Wassim and Omar took inspiration from him and did the same by building culinary careers around the world. Since then, the Orfali brothers have shared a dream: to open a restaurant of their own. “I moved to Kuwait, then to Dubai; Waseem went to Moscow, then Kazakhstan to Egypt and Omar stayed in Aleppo, then moved to Beirut. I thought for a long time about how to bring the family together, so I decided to bring my brothers to Dubai. Wassim came to Dubai in 2012 and Omar in 2013. From that moment on, I wanted us to do something together.”
Living in the middle of a large, ancient city left many traces in the chief’s memory; spice-flavored centuries-old bazaar; laurel soap and Aleppo za’atar; vibrant colors and striking hand-embroidered fabrics…
Consider three siblings who set their own paths and rules in the culinary world. Originally from Syria, Mohammad, Wassim and Omar Orfali now live in Dubai. They opened Orfali Bros Bistro, a modern bistro influenced by their travels, love of art and food experiences all over the world. Apart from being a fusion restaurant, this place is a combination of what the brothers love the most; a special place where they made their own way. The backbone of the two-story restaurant is an open test kitchen where Mohammad and his team do their magic. On the second floor, the two youngest brothers, Wassim and Omar, present a colorful display of desserts, another piece of their signature bistronomy ideas, which ranked 6th on MENA’s 50 Best Restaurants List just a year after opening Orfali Bros. . They are ranked 87th on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list.
In 2015, the brothers started their first venture together: cooking classes called “The Orfali Bros Masterclass” in 2017. They delivered more than 24 courses at the start of the pandemic in 2020. The course participants admired the originality of their dishes and made pastries and constantly encouraged them to open their own businesses. Acting with their indomitable determination to realize their dreams, the brothers opened Orfali Bros. in 2021 in the midst of the global epidemic. Owned by three Syrian brothers, this well-deservedly popular restaurant is a bright and airy space dominated by a striking two-story open kitchen. Original, playful small plates are essentially Mediterranean but also show global influences. For this reason, you can also taste imam fainted alongside burgers, caviar and Wagyu beef.