Mandana Shabani, Founder and Chef at Brambles, On Creating Community-Based Dining

Hayley Kadrou   |   14-04-2019

Brambles Founder and Chef, Mandana Shabani, joins the a&e team for Morning Coffee as she discusses how the Barsha Heights-based wholefoods cafe came to be.

Since arriving in Dubai five years ago, the California-raised chef has been working on closing a gap she saw in the dining market.


Mandana Shabani did so by creating a cafe that focused on boasting a welcoming community as much as it did on presenting fresh and wholesome foods. Rather than dining at the restaurant of a world-famous chef, you could walk in the door and meet the culinary creative who put their heart and soul into the menu they place before you.


Talking to a&e over Morning Coffee, the Founder of Brambles – the wholefoods cafe in Barsha Heights known for its kale brownies and avocado pizza – explained how resisting investment and fast growth in exchange of staying true to her own ethos has been one of her proudest achievements with the eatery to date.


Watch the full video with the chef above, and find out what we found out chatting with her below.

Five Things We Learnt Talking To Mandana Shabani Over Morning Coffee


Brambles cafe in Barsha Heights, Dubai

Brambles cafe in Barsha Heights, Dubai


Inspiration as a chef 


Mandana told us: “One of the biggest inspirations as a chef comes from being exposed to different cultures, ethnics foods and spices and always being able to balance them out with vegetables and lighten them up.”


Community is key 


She said: “One of the most exciting things – after California I moved to New York – and I was lucky to live in two different cities that were so neighbourhood and community based, and has such as thriving and unique concepts by people who were actually chefs. I think coming to Dubai, one of the things I’ve noticed in the last few years is there are now more of these homegrown concepts popping up and they are very chef-centric. You walk into them and meet the guys that put the menu together, who put his heart and soul into it. So it’s exciting to get some heart and soul back.”


Mandana’s best meal ever is…


She explained that her final meal would be Thanksgiving dinner. She adds not just for the food, but for the concept of spending the day eating and celebrating with family.


On her motto in life 


When speaking about her motto in life, the chef told us: “If every day you look in the mirror and you can look yourself in the eyes, then you’ve had a good day. We have only ourselves to answer to. So be kind, be nice, and live with integrity when no one’s watching because you have to live with yourself.


What she says ‘no’ to…

“I think just injustice. I have pretty zero-tolerance for anyone being unnecessarily rude, especially with people I care about from my friends to my staff. That’s my one thing, the one thing I can’t be okay with.”


Brambles is the wholefoods cafe in Dubai that’s creating a community-based dining experience


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