Why is that? Middle Eastern food has some great flavour profiles. Their food has a lot of flavour and taste, and so does Chili’s food. Our food is three-dimensional; we always layer flavour upon flavour. Flavour profiles aside, do you see any connection between the popularity of American chains, like Chili’s, and the UAE’s soaring obesity and diabetes rates? You know, I think it’s funny, the whole Middle Eastern culture does seem to be about wealth and, if you are wealthy, you show it, and you can order as much food as you want and eat as much food as you want. That kind of mentality plays out over here. But ultimately, I think everyone has their own ability to choose what they’re going to eat.
But don’t you think Chili’s pushes people towards excess with its fatty food options? It’s common knowledge that great food can be healthy, but the other side is that great food can be unhealthy. If you practise moderation, you can treat yourself once a week, providing you continue to eat healthily. Personal responsibility is something missing from society.
Why should I go out and eat 5,000 calories and blame the restaurant for that? I heard that Chili’s salads have more calories than their burgers. I don’t believe that is true. Our salads themselves have fresh lettuce, corn, beans, cheese, all relatively light and healthy ingredients. Where people may overdo it is with dressings. Sometimes they indulge in extra dressing, which may contribute to extra calories. A lot of people I know associate American food with brands like Chili’s. That’s true. Chili’s is an aspirational brand. It represents that whole American culture, and freedom, and everything America stands for.
As an American, I get teased at work. My co-workers seem to think all American food is really fattening. That’s a little unfair. It’s a stereotype that American food is bad for you. This is mainly driven with the fast food mentality, the idea that Americans have less time, and don’t want to wait for food. It’s not accurate. There are healthy choices out there. It’s just a matter of individuals getting a better education.
So what’s your favourite burger chain outside of Chili’s? Personally, I’m a pretty healthy eater. I don’t eat fast food. I only eat at Chili’s. Chili’s (04 282 8484), Garhoud. Other locations: BurJuman (04 352 2900), Deira City Centre (04 295 9559), Jumeirah (04 344 1300), Mall of the Emirates (04 341 3355)