Authenticity, community and a taste of nostalgia: these are the cornerstones of Salam Dakkak’s cooking. From her Dubai-based restaurant, the Palestinian chef – whose life journey has already taken her to Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the USA – welcomes people from around the world to break bread at Bait Maryam’s table.
The setting is humble and the dishes are familiar: Levantine culinary traditions are faultlessly combined in an array of mains and meze. Gallayat, a dish of tomatoes, onions and peppers, takes centre stage, while kibbeh bel laban – bulgur wheat and spiced minced meat served with garlic yoghurt – is always a crowd favourite. While inspiration comes from the dishes she ate during childhood, Dakkak’s culinary ingenuity shines across the comprehensive menu, elevating dishes such as the signature fattet musakhan, which features chicken, sumac and onions topped with crispy shards of Arabic bread.
Throughout her career, Dakkak has walked many paths – as a teacher, social worker and full-time mother, but it was always her dream to become a chef. Her vision became a reality with the opening of Bait Maryam in 2017. Located in Dubai’s residential Jumeirah Lake Towers district, the restaurant regularly feeds a friendly flock of expats and locals as well as tourists, with Dakkak and her team nurturing a tight-knit community.
Bait Maryam’s dining room resembles a true home away from home. The restaurant is furnished with welcoming accents such as squashy blue armchairs, traditional ceramics and vintage crockery – not to mention Dakkak’s wide smile. At their core, the cuisine and interior together are a tribute to Dakkak’s mother, Maryam, who was the inspiration behind the restaurant. Fiercely proud of her heritage and family traditions, Dakkak has passed the mantle to her own daughter, Nada Darraj. Day-to-day, the pair work closely together – Dakkak overseeing the kitchen, Darraj managing operations.
Beyond the inner workings of the restaurant, Dakkak harbours a true passion for people. Bait Maryam has become a haven for its surrounding community, turning customers looking for work experience into team members, and organising fundraising efforts for the needy.
Touching the hearts, minds and stomachs of guests across Middle East and North Africa every day, Dakkak is eager to carry the torch for the region’s female chefs and continue to unite the world through food.
Read more about Salam Dakkak in the interview and watch the video:
This is the description text for the row