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Exclusive Interview | DANNY ELSOURY - Executive Chef - Zizo

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Editor: Tell us about your journey. How did it all start? 
I have always been passionate about food, ever since my mother (a great home chef for Lebanese cuisine) asked for a helping hand cooking for a Sunday Brunch at the tender age of 15. After graduating from the Lebanese Culinary Arts School in 2003, i worked restlessly to improve on the craft: from a host of notable hotels and restaurants across the country, as well as televised cooking appearance. I have been honing my passion for fresh Lebanese produce and traditional cooking with more modern European techniques.

Within arsenal of skills,I have placed Lebanese and Mediterranean Cuisine first, followed closely by Italian and Seafood, and been never shy of experimenting to create unique flavours for different audiences. Presently, working as the Executive Chef at Zizo, which has in a very short time earned a reputation for the best authentic Lebanese food in Delhi. Recently I have been awarded for a best chef Standalone outlet by the jury of Gurgaon Food Freak .

Editor: How has it been in India so far?  
India for me is beautiful and also when you travel outside Delhi, and as other countries you can find positives and negatives, but the most important that I am surrounded with beautiful crowd, colleagues, friends, and guests as well who motivate me and gives me more positive energy.

I can find strange the huge number of restaurants and unfair or unprofessional competition when it comes to pricing specially when it hurts them and others around and that’s why we keep seeing lot of places are shutting down. Some funny experience here is when I was new to delhi and use to go to try some Indian food and surrounded with friends who can handle the spicy part and I use to become red face as I can not handle indian spices oo well. Also it is very funny when I call the cab drivers, all they know in English is yes sir and the rest I have to manage but it’s helping me to catch some hindi words but tora tora or dhire dhire..achaa theek hai

Editor: What according to you are some of the things your patrons look for / come back for in your food? 
My food is well appreciated from a lot of bloggers reviewers and travelers , specially when it comes to traditional and authentic recipes such as hummus , kibbi , fattoush , Falafel and more...because we didn’t indianised our recipes to ensure the authenticity. Zizo is where you can find imported lebanese products like organic zaatar, summac and pomegranate molasses which make our food different than others because of the right ingredients and prepared the way we do in Lebanon and Gulf countries.

Editor: What do you think it takes to succeed in this industry? 
To succeed in all industries the most important key is love “ I love what I do and I do what I love” Time, passion, sacrifice,love and believes are essential keys to be successful.

Editor: What are the attributes you look for while selecting or hiring? 
Because I love my job and I believe in passion and patience, my team should have the same philosophy , before hire them I want to make sure that they are not looking for earning job more than a job they love, they have to think for long term, be excited and ready to sacrifice in time and using their heart in cooking before being skilled or experienced.

Editor: Tell us a little about your average day 
Usually I spend my day with my colleagues whom they support me and believe in my philosophy as well, ensuring the standards, freshness, and availability for all products .

 After two years I can say it’s becoming easier to me to deal with my team because I can find more than one Danny in the brigade who deliver the good food and who love and care for his job as I do, and this what I am looking for and what makes ZIZO a lovely place, we are all one.

Editor: Tell us where you eat if not at your own restaurant? 
So many places I like to dine in like Artuzzi for Italian, Dakshin at Sheraton for south Indian food, Jamie’s Italian and Fat Lulu for Pizza , and Gastronomica for multi cuisine…. I would like to have more Indian food but quite tough for my Mediterranean palette.