The owner/chef Joseph Abboud of Rumi represents the best of what Middle East has to offer. "Make food, not war' on the wall represents Rumi best - delicious food burst with exotic flavours and most importantly warm hospitality as if we're welcomed into a home. It is not difficult to see why Rumi has been in business for almost eleven years now. You can tell a lot about a restaurant from the philosophy of the owner.
Joseph was all smiles when I met him at the restaurant. We chat excitedly over the various restaurants like any two food lovers would do when they first meet. He is humble even though all the heavy weights in the food industry such as Anthony Bourdain, Heston Blummental, Matt Preston and René Redzepi has come all the way to dine at his restaurant in Brunswick.
Joseph had his first experience in the food industry by washing dishes. He enjoyed the energy in the kitchen. He recalled the story was surprised to arrive one morning to a chained door of the restaurant and hence added his short stint in the kitchen. Having a sense of what hospitality is all about, he enrolled into apprenticeship and the rest is history. Joseph is a true Melbournian but he's also passionate about his Middle Eastern heritage.
When I asked him why he named the restaurant Rumi, he said that the famous poet provides the gateway to what Middle East represents. I think he hit the gold mine because I knew exactly the restaurant is Middle Eastern-inspired without much research ( unless you never read any literature!). His take on the dishes served in Rumi is personal with the classic charcoal BBQ and vegetables which are the staples in Middle Eastern cuisine.
Eating a Middle Eastern meal is quite similar to Asian cuisines. It is based on a sharing menu where you have all the dishes on the table. Each flavour are carefully complementary with different dishes.Way back, most culture usually eat in a shared dining experience. Shared dining experience is a great way to connect in a community and we're glad that it's now back in fashion.
Which chef still eats at his own restaurant? I think that's the secret of the success of Rumi. Joseph still dine at this restaurant weekly. This gives him an insight into the perspective of the customers and the consistency of the food and service.
I've dine in many restaurants with the best food you can get but some of them lack of soul. What Joseph captured so well is how the food he created and the chefs he trained gives you a warm feeling which comes from soul. It's no wonder Rumi remains popular after all these years. Formula can be bought but not soul.
Join us and celebrate Middle Eastern cuisine and culture at FoodSocial Global Feast: Q for Qatar his 24th of June at Rumi.
By PhehSze (PS) Teh
Pheh Sze or more commonly known as PS, is the founder of FoodSocial. She's a part-time 'legal drug-dealer' (aka a pharmacist) but a full-time food lover entrepreneur and a philosopher at heart. When she's not in her white jacket or planning her next culinary journey, she loves to ponder about the meaning of life.