Camelot’s Chef Bertrand shares a few culinary secrets
Time Out Bahrain staff
How long have your worked at Camelot? What is your background? I have worked for Camelot since Christmas 2010. My background is essentially cultural – theatre, music and so on. I went into cooking very late in life.
The cooking classes are a new addition at Camelot, and certainly seem popular – what is the idea behind them? The idea is to let the clients be more aware of what we are doing and what they are eating. We are opening our doors fully and we are not hiding anything. It is also about showing that Camelot cares for them and that we provide fun besides good food. We also hope, of course, that this will help keep customers faithful and have them coming back for more. This interaction is also a good way of seeing if what we are doing is right, and we learn what is popular with people.
And which dishes have you been teaching people to cook? Are they from the Camelot menu? Most dishes that have been demonstrated and taught in our classes are taken from our menu: onion soup, Caesar salad, mayonnaise, gratin Dauphinois, beef stock, coq au vin, almond and pear tart, chocolate mousse and custard. But we also use recipes not on the menu. It is a mix.
How skilled do you have to be in the kitchen already to do the class? No particular skill is required. This is about food, but also about having fun. Everybody is welcome.
What about feedback? Have people told you about their successes since? The feedback have been generally very positive. I see our clients regularly in the dining room and they tell me what they have done at home and how successful they were. I think everybody is enjoying the classes very much.
What’s your own take on the food scene in Bahrain? Do you have a favourite restaurant? I don’t actually go out that much – for me, to go to the restaurant is like going to work. It is difficult to enjoy because you always think about how you would have done this or that. But I do like the social occasion of eating with friends, for me that is more important than the actual food. But there are too many fast food outlets in Bahrain. This is especially sad when you consider that in the central market and the fish market, you see the extraordinary wealth of prime ingredients that are available for the keen cook. If you want to cook in Bahrain, you have all that you need. But my favourite restaurant is a small unassuming place in the heart of the central market where you can have a fantastic chickpea stew. I took a French visitor once. We were sitting there, eating the soup with some lettuce and drinking sweet milk tea, looking at the crowd around us. He had only one word: ‘Bliss.’
Is the food you cook at Camelot the same as you cook at home – what do you make? Actually I live on salads and rarely cook elaborate dishes for myself. I live alone, so I only cook for friends who come to visit or when I need to try a particular idea or recipe. I am not a vegetarian, but I could not live without salad. Bahrain has a particularly good supply of ingredients, and I constantly discover new farms, especially in the Budaiya area, that produce remarkably good and fresh salads and other vegetables. Some are using very sophisticated technology to produce, even during the summer heat, some fabulous lettuces.
What is the one ingredient you could never do without? A good extra virgin olive oil.
And what’s new at Camelot? Any changes to the menu, events or promotions after Ramadan? We’ll start a brand new menu in September. This will be an unapologetic French menu based on classic ideas. The next cooking class will take place at Camelot (39 977 540) on September 17. Call for more info or to reserve your place.