When Basil AlSalem made the move away from the world of business finance, he took a bit of a leap. Rather than being a departure from his business roots and education, however, it was actually fueled by it. Having returned home to Kuwait post- college, and been around just long enough to see a glaring hole in the restaurant landscape, he moved forward with the careful consideration and due diligence that you would expect from a guy with a background in finance. Not even a short ten years later, and he now represents the pinnacle of local dining expertise writ large: he foresaw the burger movement and pushed it through with his original Kuwaiti concept Burger Boutique, he repeated himself when he created the innovative Slider Station, and completed his hat trick with the wonderful breakfast offerings of The Cocoa Room. In addition to his sophisticated and culturally eclectic concept that is the Open Flame Kitchen, as well as a myriad of new openings throughout the region, he has showed time and again that he is just getting started.
When this entrepreneur is not dreaming endlessly out of the 29th floor window of his sea-view office, he is busy travelling the world in search of the next it flavor. We catch up with him in this month’s Up Close and Personal column to find out what drives him forward and how he stays ahead of the trends.
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Nothing makes me happier than being with my whole family in good health and having fun. It is these moments in my life that are most memorable, and for a very good reason! It puts a smile on my face.
What is your greatest fear?
Growing old too fast too soon.
What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
I love to learn about almost anything whether how things function or historical figures. I don’t like the feeling of not knowing something. I use this trait to my advantage for everything from having a conversation about the economy to developing business ideas assisted by my general knowledge.
What is the trait you most deplore in others?
I believe each person has a trait that has more potential to be deplored than others. However, it takes a while to understand those positive traits and focus on the ones that they seem more willing to deplore themselves.
Which living person do you most admire?
My wife. She is everything I can’t be. She lifts me up when I’m falling. She completes me.
What is your greatest extravagance?
I never understood extravagance until I spent the first $100 on a meal.
Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
When were you happiest?
Every day is my happiest. I like progressive happiness.
Which talent would you most like to have?
I think I can learn almost anything except being good with music. I like to learn to play on the oud. It makes me forget my daily routine. I bought one during college; I think I left it there.
What would you consider your greatest achievement?
To me, achievements are relative. I think it is something that others can claim about others. For me I count milestones and see where they take me.
Where would you most like to live?
I love nature. Anywhere where the environment is respected and that possesses peacefulness and serenity. I can live in the desert or an island or right here in Kuwait, just as long as I find those qualities.