Hailing from the pristine island of Ha. Dhihdhoo, nestled in the Haa Alif Atoll, Maldives, Chef Mohamed Niyaz's culinary voyage began within the cozy kitchen confines of his family home. Today, he's stirring the pot at the helm of Kaagé, VARU By Atmosphere's distinguished restaurant.
Niyaz first fell for the culinary arts observing his mother's adept culinary skills, turning fresh, local produce into deliciously heartwarming meals. His early fascination led to an illustrious career that began at Hulhule Island Hotel in 2002. Today, he holds the esteemed title of Maldivian Chef at Kaagé, a position that has allowed him to bring his flair for creative and delicious local cuisine to the fore.
Through the years, Chef Niyaz has decorated his apron with numerous accolades, reflecting his relentless drive and unquestionable talent. The coveted CGM Chefs Award for Outstanding Achievement in 2022 and remarkable accomplishments in the 2016 Chinese Foreign Hotel's cooking competition, CCTV ‘The Greatest Chefs’ stand tall among them. Participation in the Hotel Asia Culinary Challenge from 2012 to 2022 resulted in a rewarding haul of 12 gold, silver, and bronze awards.
Kaagé, where Chef Niyaz currently crafts his culinary magic, is a nod to Maldivian heritage and gastronomy. Designed to mimic a traditional Maldivian home, the restaurant lets guests savour a touch of local authenticity whilst indulging in the finest of Maldivian cuisine with a modern twist. Among the restaurant's offerings, Niyaz strongly recommends Gulha, a smoked tuna or vegetable-filled pastry, and Kandu Kukhulu, their signature Maldivian tuna curry.
When asked about his preferred local ingredients, Niyaz holds coconut, pandan leaves, Maldivian chilli, and curry leaves in high regard. His next ambition is to catapult Maldivian cuisine onto the global stage, making it accessible beyond the nation's sun-drenched shores.
For aspiring Maldivian chefs, Niyaz shares a touch of wisdom, encouraging them to respect and explore Maldivian Cuisine's unique flavours. Drawing from a traditional Maldivian saying, he advises young chefs to always move forward with courage and diligence, without dwelling on the past or undervaluing any task.
Chef Niyaz's journey paints an inspiring picture for any aspiring culinary artist, serving as a reminder that passion combined with perseverance can lead to remarkable heights.
Note: Atmosphere Core, operating eight resorts in the Maldives, is dedicated to providing world-class hospitality. The company is set for impressive growth in South Asia, with three new THE OZEN COLLECTION properties slated for launch by 2024, extending their 'Joy Of Giving' philosophy further.