Four Seasons Tenure
- Since 2010
- First Four Seasons Position: Cook, Four Seasons Hotel Amman
- De Patio Restaurante, Santiago, Chile; Borago Restaurant, Santiago; Viceroy Hotel Group, Dubai, United Arab Emirates; Intercontinental Hotel Group, Danang, Vietnam; Souq Waqif Boutique Hotel, Doha, Qatar; Gili Lankanfushi, Maldives; The Royal Hotel, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates; Hotel Aqaba, Jordan; Four Seasons Hotel Amman
- Irbid, Jordan
- Arabic, English, basic Spanish
“There’s a spotlight on us and we have to shine,” says Osama Alakhras, waxing metaphorically as well as realistically about his role as Chef de Cuisine of Riviera by Four Seasons, the new offsite dining experience from Four Seasons Hotel Kuwait at Burj Alshaya. “This is more than another hotel restaurant: It’s a luxury brand of its own.”
Indeed, it is. Nestled within the The Gardens section of the posh and expansive The Avenues in Kuwait City, Riviera is Four Seasons first-ever standalone restaurant, fashioned as an experience all its own for local clientele who can’t get enough of great food and good times. Menus for breakfast through dinner celebrate the culinary breadth of the Mediterranean with ingredients, spices, and dishes from every corner served in inimitable Four Seasons style.
Where the Hotel invites diners to enjoy Four Seasons excellence 21 stories above the city, Riviera takes Four Seasons directly to diners. “People often choose a hotel restaurant for a special occasion,” notes Alakhras, “but here in The Avenues, we’re making Four Seasons more accessible with more modestly priced menus that encourage everyone to enjoy.”
From a marketing perspective, the restaurant benefits the Hotel by increasing visibility of the brand. It also offers a distinctive opportunity to please the local palate. “Kuwaitis love to dine out, and they want something new. That opens the door for us to innovate with service and cuisine and manoeuvre in ways a hotel restaurant can’t.”
Alakhras makes it a priority to be open and approachable with Riviera’s guests, frequently roaming the dining room to encourage people to try something new. He takes the same communicative approach with the talent in the kitchen. “I got all of my hands-on skills from people I’ve worked with over the years. They show me what they do, I show them what I do, and we’re creative together.”
Jordanian by birth, Alakhras’s culinary career began with an act of youthful rebellion. “I wanted to get a job, so I ran away from school.” He had hoped to get into hotels but didn’t have any connections, so he worked his way through local restaurants in Irbid and Amman. Five years in, he found his way to Four Seasons Hotel Amman.
“I was invited to join because I could speak the language, know the culture and definitely my cooking skills,” he recalls with a smile. “And of course, they were happy to teach me the core: Four Seasons standards, still my foundation.”
Alakhras has used those standards well, moving onward and upward in rank and responsibility at restaurants and hotels around the globe. Among his last stops was highly rated Boragó in Santiago, Chile, followed by De Patio Restaurante. Whatever the assignment, he always goes in with the intention of getting as much “knowledge, life experience and food experience as possible.” How’d has that gone? “I got quite a bit.”
Now excited to be back with Four Seasons and in the thick of a new dining concept, when Alakhras is not working with food or enjoying it at restaurants across Kuwait City, he is reading about it. “I can spend so much time with culinary literature in English and Spanish. It is very deep and meaningful to me: like poetry.”