Why did you choose to become a DaVinci Gourmet Flavour Genius?

I saw it as a good way to advance my career. Previously, I had been the General Manager for cocktail bars and clubs in Shanghai and New Zealand and was doing a lot of bar consulting. While I learnt a lot and enjoyed my time doing this, I felt that I had plateaued in terms of what I could continue to learn.  
Joining the DaVinci Gourmet brand as a Flavour Genius allowed me to work in a large multinational company to collaborate with other large, successful businesses and to learn the processes involved in this. It also allowed me to work directly with food scientists and other mixologists and get knowledge and inspiration from them. There is a lot available to learn as a DaVinci Gourmet Flavour Genius.

In your opinion, what are the biggest flavour trends of 2019 in the Middle East?

In the past year, there has been a large focus on using local flavours, whereas before, the culture was mainly looking outside for inspiration. Rose, cardamom, yoghurt, mint, etc. are increasingly popular. Pistachio is a big one. We are seeing it in every form – lattes, milkshakes, ice cream, desserts, etc.

Where do you find your inspiration when creating new drink applications?

Anywhere I can, from food, especially desserts. From cocktail bars, coffee shops and restaurant menus, online blogs and recipes, Instagram, etc. Also, from experimentation – trying out wacky ideas. Mostly this ends up with strange concoctions, but sometimes it can create an inspired drink or lead to a new idea.

Which is your favourite DaVinci Gourmet product and why?

Can I choose a whole category? I use DaVinci Gourmet Real Fruit Mix all the time. I like that it is all inclusive – it provides a balanced flavour, with natural sweetness and fruit acidity, it adds texture and it provides colour. It means that it can be very versatile, not just as an ingredient in a beverage, but also as a layering or as a topping.  
DaVinci Gourmet Lemonade Base Syrup is also one I use a lot. It is a good base ingredient and refreshers remain the most popular beverage platform. Lemonade matches well with the fruit syrup flavours, with the fruit mixes, with teas and with ice blended fruit coolers.

What is the most innovative (craziest) flavour combination you experimented and how did it turn out?

I’ve tried a few. I like to introduce a savoury or umami note in to a beverage, in order to give it more depth. This means that rather than just detecting sour/bitter and sweet notes on your tongue, you can also pick up salt and umami, for a fully rounded beverage. I originally did this by adding MSG to drinks, then by creating a dashi soup stock with seaweed. Everything tastes better with Umami. I’m also a big fan of lemon with chocolate, but it doesn’t seem to be a common favourite.

What advice would you give to young aspiring baristas or mixologists who are eager to learn and succeed in the trade?

Never stop learning. There is always more to learn, in every direction. One of the best ways to learn something, is to find good mentors and to gleam whatever you can from them. If you can keep learning, you will remain stimulated and continue to grow.

What is your favourite beverage to make and why?

Given my background as a bartender, I still love to make cocktails, particularly gin sour based beverages – Last Word, Aviation, Twentieth Century, etc. I’m a fan of the classics, because they tend to use just a few ingredients to create a strong, unique flavour. I think it is an art to use fewer ingredients to make a sophisticated beverage.

What do you enjoy the most about being a Flavour Genius?

I love the travel involved in my job. I get to experience and learn about other cultures and their preferences in food and beverage. As the mixologist for the Middle East and North Africa, my territory is a vast one, with many different countries and cultures. The anthropological aspect to my job never gets old.




This drink is inspired by Hallowe’en, with its emo colours of blood red and midnight black. The black slowly works it’s way down the drink, until eventually all is engulfed in darkness. It uses traditional Arabic pomegranate for its tangy flavour and rich colour, married with berries and activated charcoal.


Mixed Berry Fruit Mix 30ml

Pomegranate Grenadine Syrup 20ml

Cooler Powder 20g

Charcoal Powder 10g


Water 60ml



Charcoal Whipped Cream (50g DaVinci Gourmet Dark Chocolate Sauce + 400ml Whipping Cream mixed in to a 500ml cream canister)

Pomegranate Seeds


Fill glass with ice

Pour in to blender cup

Add all ingredients – apart from the charcoal powder – in to the blender cup

Blend for 20 seconds

Half fill the glass with contents of the blender cup

Add 1 scoop of charcoal powder to the remaining liquid in the blender

Blend again

Pour the remaining contents in to the glass

Charcoal Whipped Cream on top, with pomegranate seeds to garnish

Tasting Notes: Refreshing and floral, touch of vinegar, grapefruit gives a hint of bitter, combined
with aromatic and juicy lychee fruit.


An indulgent ice-blended beverage, inspired by the Bounty bar. Like its inspiration, it has a thick shell of dark chocolate, with a rich, coconut interior. Coconut is a very popular ingredient this year, as are non-dairy, “alternative milks” and chocolate is tending towards a darker profile generally, as people are looking for less sweet, less sugary options.

Dark Chocolate Sauce 15ml

Madagascar Vanilla Sauce 30ml

Frappease Powder 40g


Coconut Milk 100ml



Dark Chocolate Whipped Cream (60ml DaVinci Gourmet Dark Chocolate Sauce + 400ml Whipping Cream mixed in to a 500ml cream canister)

Grated Coconut

Shredded Coconut

Chocolate Chips


Fill glass with ice

Pour in to blender cup

Rim the outside of the glass with grated coconut, using sugar syrup or coconut syrup

Add all ingredients – apart from the dark chocolate sauce – in to the blender cup

Blend for 20 seconds

Cage the inside of the glass with dark chocolate sauce

Pour contents of blender in to the glass

Dark chocolate whipped cream on top, with shredded coconut and choc chips to garnish

Tasting Notes: Bittersweet notes coming from Lychee and Tonic combination. Fresh and


Takahe is a native bird, from my home country of New Zealand. It’s plumage is a deep blue underneath, which fades upwards in to a verdant green. The Maori name fits this drink’s classic tiki-style ingredients and colours. Add white rum or gin, for a refreshing, alcoholic version.


Blue Ocean Syrup 10ml

Lemonade Base Syrup 15ml


Fresh Pineapple Juice 50ml

Tonic Water 100ml

White Rum 30ml (optional)

Crushed Ice


Edible Flower

Dried Pineapple

Curry Leaves


Pump Blue Ocean in to a glass

Add crushed ice

Add Lemonade, then (rum &) tonic, followed by the pineapple juice

Top up the crushed ice and garnish with flowers, dried pineapple and curry leaves

Tasting Notes: Juicy peach combined with aromatic lemongrass. Touch of citrus from
fresh lime.