Louloua El Ezzah is a successful and acclaimed Saudi chef based in Jeddah. She owns and conducts cooking programs from a small home-based culinary school called Loulou’s Kitchen that provides cooking classes, skills and techniques, and basics in kitchen management, targeted towards housewives and enthusiastic teenagers wanting to dwell into culinary arts as well as to cooks to manage their time better. This is all possible through an efficient system of four cooking stations and an island for cooking demonstration.
Louloua’s career took off as a result of her appearance on popular TV shows like Top Chef Middle East (she was among the final four candidates), Tabkhat Alyoum (Today’s Dish) and Dr. Chef. Being part of “Top Chef Middle East 2010” helped massively in the development of Loulou’s Kitchen. It provided Louloua with great exposure and experience within Saudi Arabia and across the region. Furthermore, she encountered many more opportunities to work with some of the best food companies in Saudi. She is very grateful that she had the chance to feature and become a part of Top Chef as it was an essential turning point in her career; she became very well-known and a growing number of people registered at her school.
The journey was not without obstacles, and there where tremendous. When Louloua first opened Loulou’s Kitchen (around sixteen years ago), the Saudi society did not comprehend the concept of a woman pursuing a career as a chef. Advertising her classes was one of the major obstacles that she faced due to the lack of accessible social media; thus relying solely on ”word of mouth”. Another difficulty was that she was not able to find assistance for the kitchen and the ability to efficiently balance work and home, especially since her school was based at home. Having had the opportunity to visit many countries around the world and the consequent exposure to many cultures, enabled Louloua to be able to merge local Saudi food, and Middle Eastern cuisine with a vast range of international cuisines. This skill, and art as such, only developed with years of experience. She now knows how to combine and use different flavors and spices together for the most flavorsome result.
On the topic of health, high rate of diabetes and obesity forced Louloua to design a specific menu which promotes healthy recipes such as soups, salads and grills. With the increase of awareness amongst society, the demand for consuming a healthier diet has risen. Her top tips for a healthier diet include, but are not limited to, changing your cooking techniques – rely on the oven instead of frying, stop snacking on chips and cookies, stop consuming sodas, alternatively begin snacking on vegetables, drink fresh juices, eliminate or at least reduce consumption of sugar, and stop over dependence on carbohydrates like bread and pasta.
Louloua is currently an official Maggi Ambassador! She has been on ‘Maggi Diaries’ which is a television show that has been airing on MBC for the past few months. The aim of this program is to empower women and spread awareness from the Middle East (Egypt and Saudi Arabia), as well as Europe and India. They are trying to achieve this mission through cooking with Maggi, for example: they will use local recipes of the country and adapt them with recipes of the story they are conducting.
What Louloua aims to change and influence is primarily how the Saudi society perceives the profession of a chef and the importance in understanding that cooking is a passion rather than merely a duty for women. She is also extremely passionate in learning about different cultures and traditions through the art of food and taste and wishes to spread this common love of embracing the culinary arts. She also wants to facilitate the cooking procedure and to demonstrate that cooking can be fun and easy.
When asked about her top cookbooks, Louloua recommends Iraqi Table by Raghad Alsafi, The Essential Pasta Cookbook, and Jerusalem by Sami Tamimi. For those of us who are not lucky enough and unable to attend her classes, she invites us to follow her on her Instagram account @loulouskitchen and snapchat account which is @kinnzzzzz where she is very active. Also, some of her television episodes are available to watch on YouTube where she has some delicious and easy recipes which can be very easily adapted.