Restaurateur Oliver Zeitoun on the latest maki craze
Time Out Bahrain staff
As Japanese favourite Maki launched its latest collaboration dish, the Make-up Maki, we caught up with the restaurant’s Oliver Zeitoun to find out about the initiative.
You have spoken about wanting to work with local people on various projects, what does this involve? For the past ten years Maki has worked with local people in Kuwait, including regular guests and local/international celebrities. In Bahrain, working with local people involved, and continues to involve, guests as well as famous community figures who have contributed to Bahrain’s society in their own way. We look to honour these creative individuals by creating a namesake maki dish which symbolises and represents what they do.
At the same time, many of these local figures happen to be women, which in turn empowers women in the Bahraini society and honours their accomplishments as a productive part of this wonderful society.
For example, Alia Almoayed is a famous nutritionist/dietician expert whom we honoured by making a maki roll that consisted of healthful ingredients such as grilled white fish, avocado, cucumber, wild thyme, brown rice, and our own house-grown extra virgin olive oil.
The Make-Up Maki, which has just launched, honoured Mrs Mai Almoayed who has and continues to help local women with fashion issues, including make-up classes through her business The Make-up Manual.
What made you decide to approach Mai? Mai is a local celebrity when it comes to fashion and make up and she has garnered a great following among young women. She has helped a lot of local women in upgrading their image, which in turn contributed to elevating their self-esteem. We wished to honour her and her accomplishments with a ‘colourful’ and tasty maki-roll that signifies what she does.
What was the process behind creating the make-up Maki? It was a long process which started initially by understanding who Mai is, what colours she likes and what types of food she prefers. Then came the testing stage. We convened with Mai on more than one occasion and went through a list of ingredients that would represent her passion for make-up. Hence, the colourful trays of ingredients that were involved in the making of her namesake maki-roll, which resembled a colourful make-up tray.
We were also interested to build the layers of flavour the way you do when making up a face, the whole picture is pretty but there’s a base and layers beneath the surface which make that picture – the same is true of the maki, there are subtle hints of flavours which make up the whole.
The chosen finished product is a very nice looking, vibrant dish that exudes art and taste. We have managed to show that food and make-up are both forms of art which could resemble each other.
Is this Maki available all the time or just on certain days? The Make-Up Maki is available on all days. It is integral to Maki’s menu across all markets
What makes it special? The special aspect about the Make-Up Maki is that it is one of the very first collaborative efforts with a local member of society that has positively and constructively contributed to society. It is the first Maki dish that ‘openly’ speaks of art and food complementing each other
What will be your next collaboration? Our next collaboration will be with Amina Al Abbasi who is a celebrated local artist and Bahraini woman.
Mai added: I was thrilled to get involved with this collaboration. It gave me the opportunity to create a signature dish, something that represents ‘The Make-up Manual’ work and personality. The amazing and hardworking PR company Obai & Hill organised this collaboration, and with their help I was able to do this.
Though sushi is unrelated to make-up, make-up is all about colours and physical appearance, and that is what I incorporated in my dish. If you look closely at the plate, you’ll notice that it is very similar to an eyeshadow/lipstick palette. They are super colourful - just like make-up and art! It represents an artist’s palette - each maki roll has a different topping to make it look like a different eyeshadow colour etc. Also, the size of each roll is small, just like the size of an average eyeshadow.