What's your cooking background, or how did you first learn to cook? I was my grandmother's favorite, so I began watching her cook at a very early age. Once I could turn on a stove, I began to cook. My grandmother and I would spend hours preparing for meals and shopping for ingredients. When I was in college, I worked at a restaurant as one of the cooks for a few years. After college, I moved to Mexico and created a whole community around me of people wanting to learn about food. I found a lot of similarities between Mexican and Arabic food and so I began to offer cooking classes to my friends and community. When I moved back to Chicago, I got my food handlers license and started cooking for friends and family again.
What can you tell us about the dish you're making and what inspired it? The dish I'm making was the first thing I made when I was homesick. It is a delicious puff pastry stuffed with either meat or cheese. It is proof that wherever you go, someone, somewhere, has a dumpling of some sort; and that's basically what it is in its essence.
What's your favorite food memory? I wish I could narrow down my favorite food memory to a single moment. My favorite memories are when I tried something for the first time, walking around spice markets back home, eating the most delicious sandwich on the train tracks in Switzerland, walking through a tiny door in Italy to the best pizza restaurant. Too many to count.
Anything else we should know about you and your cooking? I make food because I love it. I love bringing people new flavors and introducing them to alternative ways of cooking. All my food is made with the best ingredients I can find and imported spices that my mum personally flew on a plane from Jordan!