Crave America

Meet Chef Joel Hassanali

Executive Chef at CRAVE Omaha and future Executive Chef in Bethesda, Maryland

1 year with CRAVE

“I love the culture and the direction that CRAVE is heading.   I love the fact that our dishes are chef driven, not corporate recipes.  We will still run specials to allow creativity and challenge our minds, which really keeps the passion. Collaboration is a really great thing for the company.”
I knew I wanted to be a chef when:

Since I was 6 or 7 years old.  I’m from the Caribbean and my parents had a restaurant and everyday after school I would go mess around  and watch the chefs cook.  My Mom and Dad loved to cook, so during the holidays I was always in the kitchen with mom and dad.  When I moved to the states, I watched cooking channels and read cook books.

Favorite part of my job:

I love wowing the guests and looking across the dining room and seeing the guests satisfied faces. I also like teaching. I am always side by side with my cooks, showing them how to hold the knife for different cuts, sauté vegetables, or anything else.

What will set the new menu apart from the existing CRAVE menu:

Egos were pushed aside, and great chefs got together to create great, delicious, sexy food. CRAVE is at that next level. Our menu items are really innovative and creative, and we have healthy and trendy choices.

Favorite ingredient on the new menu:

Two favorites—The Israeli couscous and quinoa on the Salmon Salad in conjunction with the fresh spinach is a very unique flavor that really allows you to taste the dish.  Also, the Half Chicken rub. The rub compliments all the flavors of the dish well. The bold flavor is like a dance in my mouth in combination with the sweetness of the grilled pineapple and palm sugar.

Favorite dish on the new menu:

I love seafood, so the seared scallops are a favorite. They are perfect with the butternut squash risotto. I also love the Half Roasted Chicken.

Contributions I’m most proud of:

The Pork Belly Black Bean Soup with corn relish.

I also worked with Dave Miller on the half roasted chicken.  We worked on the spicy rub, and I added an island twist to the salsa with pineapple, and added coconut to the jasmine rice. The sweetness and spices pair well together. I also helped with most of the salad dressings. I’m proud of the Honey Citrus Vinaigrette, which is used on three salads.