Award winning executive chef, Fabian Sebastian Francis, talks to BTM about his journey to Haus and what the restaurant is all about.
Growing up on the Caribbean island of St Lucia, chef Sebastian had never imagined where life’s journey would take him. “My mother, a single parent, worked two jobs and it was my older sister who had to make us dinner,” he reminisces. “I never ate what she made, so I went into the kitchen to try my hand at cooking and found a passion in my love for it. At 22, I studied culinary arts at London’s Westminster College, which enabled my character and passion to align.”
Specialising in Pan Asian, French, Japanese and Modern European cuisine, chef Sebastian is grateful to have had many great opportunities to work alongside talented chefs. Starting, in London, as executive sous at the Bank restaurant, which boasts three-rosette fine dining, he stayed in the UK capital progressing to prestigious five-star property, The Sanderson, and renowned restaurants Chino Latino, Roka and Inamo, winning numerous awards for the latter.
This proved that the years of hard work and studying had paid off. “There were times that I wanted to give up this hard chef’s life of long hours, stressful environment and family neglect for a normal life, but I kept true to myself and my passion,” he says.
His Middle Eastern trajectory began when he was offered an opportunity to oversee the kitchen at Toko in Dubai. “Toko provided a great platform and stepping stone to my career in Dubai, and I have since consulted for numerous restaurants and hospitality groups, and also been head chef at a VIP residence.”
He then took up the role of executive chef at Haus, which is “a full-service dining experience inspired by homegrown flavours from the world’s best cuisines.
“It is an all-in-one concept featuring an ‘upscale casual’ restaurant, lounge and bakery with something for everyone. We are committed to offering sophisticated, yet not ‘fussy’, food in an innovative menu to the well-travelled customer, while maintaining an affordable price point.”
Chef Sebastian admits an initial hesitance to living in Bahrain has disappeared and that the island has grown on him. “The people are friendly and genuine; it’s what’s kept me here for two years and it’s a pleasure to make it my home.”
He has been involved with Haus since the idea was conceived. “I could not have found a better project where I can create and develop not just staff, but also cuisine to a standard of what and where Bahrain should be on the culinary spectrum,” he says.
After 25 years in his field, chef Sebastian has had the opportunity to work with brilliant chefs who influenced him to become the person he is and what he creates as a chef. He says: “I try to take all those experiences, whether it is management, creativity, menu development or innovation, to help me create something unique and amazing on a plate to satisfy my customers’ appetites. I research quite a lot to stay abreast of the latest culinary developments and trends to stay on top of my game.”
All the dishes on Haus’s menu get great reviews but the spinach salad, mushroom arancini, tomato avocado salad, truffle marble beef, strip loin and sea bream are always in demand. And chef Sebastian aims to add some more prime items such as Wagyu, lobsters and truffles, while trying his best to support the local markets for fresh produce.
He says: “Haus is a collaboration of inspirational ideas for creating a hybrid by combining homegrown food and fine dining, and losing the stiff restaurant atmosphere. It differentiates itself from other restaurants, in that it provides a much-needed unpretentious cuisine and atmosphere directed to its dining, lounge and bakery. The aim is simple – to provide patrons with a perception of higher value than the rest, through its dedication to first-class food, service and the relaxed feeling of hanging out in someone’s ‘Haus’.”