Chef Joel Hassanali is the Executive Chef at City Perch Kitchen + Bar in Bethesda, MD.
Chef Joel Hassanali is all about embracing the flavors and traditions of his heritage. Although he spent his early years dreaming of becoming a fireman in Trinidad and Tobago, his future ambitions shifted once his parents opened their own restaurant when he was just seven years old. Chef Joel spent any free time as a child in the restaurant kitchen admiring the talents of the restaurant’s head chef, Chef Rafeek. Chef Joel spent hours learning the family recipes, which incorporated the West Indies culture. It did not take long to realize that Joel’s parents had passed down the passion of cooking to their son. At age 12, Chef Joel had the opportunity to travel extensively throughout Central America. This adventure exposed Joel to the region’s cultures and cuisines that would one day contribute to his culinary expertise. Once he moved to the states, Joel was inspired by various cook books and the American cooking reality shows. He still dreams to one day cook beside Chef Gordon Ramsey or make an appearance in the infamous “Hell’s Kitchen” or the Food Network’s “Chopped” competition.
Chef Joel attended the New York Restaurant School where he continued to work on his craft. After graduation, he worked at Fisher Island and trained in classic French cuisine. He quickly was promoted to the banquet chef for the Levy Restaurant Group in Florida where he became the exclusive chef for the Miami Dolphins and Florida Marlins professional teams. His career continued to accelerate as he became the executive chef at Ruths’ Chris Steakhouse and later the Senior Executive at Crave Restaurant in Bethesda, Maryland. While working at Crave, he was presented with the Iron Chef’s Award. After almost twenty years of perfecting his trade, he landed his current position as Executive Chef at City Perch Kitchen & Bar in one of the most thriving markets of Rockville, Maryland. The most exciting part of his job is developing the seasonal menus using his unique blend of flavors and fresh local products. Chef Joel is passionate about crafting a menu that accentuates the regional flavors and traditions. Just a few of these seasonal creations include braised short ribs, six cheese mac & cheese, Berkshire grilled pork chops, pan-seared halibut, and of course the chocolate donut.
When not in the kitchen, Chef Joel enjoys spending time with his family and traveling the world to experience different cultures, foods, and spirits. Joel’s favorite cooking partner is his seven month old daughter, Mayze, and he has already started her training for “Master Chef Junior”. He loves any opportunity to combine family with his culinary passion. The most rewarding part of his job is not only the ability to deliver a satisfying meal to his customers, but to develop meaningful relationships with his guests. Chef Joel is known for walking around the dining area to converse and get to know his guests. He hopes to one day open his own restaurant that highlights his Caribbean heritage, including the unique culinary flavors and friendly culture.
If you ever are in the Rockville, Maryland area, stop by City Perch Kitchen & Bar to experience Joel’s culinary expertise first hand!