Meet the Arab world’s very first pitmaster, Hattem Mattar, a UAE chef who has used the power of food and storytelling to bring people together.
He recently traveled over 8,000 miles to the United States to represent the UAE at the 30th Annual National Capital Barbecue Battle. For three decades, this national event has brought world-renowned chefs, pitmasters, cookbook authors and more to DC to showcase the best of the BBQ world.
As the UAE Embassy’s culinary ambassador, Hattem had the opportunity to host the embassy’s featured exhibition, “With Smoke and Spice from the United Arab Emirates.” During the event, he shared how to add an Arabic flare to any Texas-style BBQ dish. His secret? Combining traditional BBQ with Middle Eastern spices, creating a new and flavorful experience for the DC community.
In addition to the exhibit, he hosted two separate cooking demonstrations over the course of two days. Through these experiences, he not only hopes to inspire a “third culture cuisine,” but also to unite Arabs and Americans together through the art of cooking.
Hattem Mattar, the UAE’s BBQ King
For nearly a decade, Hattem Mattar has shared his passion for Texas-style barbecue with the people of Dubai.
Hattem believes in building community through food. Having met and worked with various pitmasters across the US, he has seen how food brings people together despite their backgrounds or cultural differences. In June 2022, he was appointed Culinary Diplomat by the consul general of the United States in the UAE.
Often referred to as the Arab World’s “King of Barbeque,” his journey to success was anything but easy. It wasn’t until he faced several obstacles in his personal life that he turned to cooking to find purpose, meaning and passion. Even so, he went through years of trial and error before he finally created his famous “third-culture” brisket sandwiches. Fast forward to today, his recipes have been applauded and featured throughout the UAE and the entire world.
This breakthrough eventually led to the founding of the smokehouse, which quickly gained popularity throughout Dubai and changed Hattem’s life forever. Now one of Dubai’s most sought after restaurants, the smokehouse is complete with a “live fire menu” that invites visitors to cook together and find a common ground regardless of culture, beliefs or background.
Over the years, Hattem’s culinary journey has brought him incredible opportunities such as working with the Smithsonian and the world’s largest BBQ festival in Brazil. Through these experiences, he’s been able to share the UAE’s authentic food scene and diverse culture with people from all over the world.
Hattem made an appearance at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, as well as several different pop-up events in Austin, Texas.
To learn more about his incredible journey, watch his featured story on uaeusaunited.com.