[typography font=”Cabin Sketch” size=”30″ size_format=”px” color=”#307887″]FOUNDERS[/typography][hr]
Brenda is an Egyptian-American who grew up in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Her love of food began at an early age, as she watched her mother cook traditional Egyptian meals. Growing up and going to school in Michigan exposed her to a wide array of cuisines and cultures. She learned Yemeni curries from her roommate, noshed on Ethiopian samboosak with her law school friend, and even learned from her Indian American roommates how to store rice in Ziplocs and curries in yogurt containers. Her regular trips to Egypt growing up only deepened her fascination of her own Middle Eastern heritage. She always wanted to go on a culinary tour through Europe, to which her parents promptly replied, “Just go live with your aunt in Egypt.” Although she never quite did either, she has cooked her way through many traditional Middle Eastern recipes, and makes a béchamel her grandmother would be proud of. A lawyer by training, but a foodie at heart, Brenda currently resides in Abu Dhabi with her husband and beautiful twin boys.
[typography font=”Waiting for the Sunrise” size=”32″ size_format=”px” color=”#8a1a1a”]Heba Saleh[/typography]
Heba is an Egyptian-American who spent her childhood in Bahrain and Egypt, and moved to the States as a teenager. The memory of freshly baked pita bread from the corner furn (‘bakery’) next to her grandparents’ house in Heliopolis has been forever etched in her mind. She remembers, as if it were yesterday, her grandmother feeding her molokhia, rice and rabbit on the balcony overlooking Cairo. If she finished her plate, she would feed the bones to the neighbor’s pets downstairs — what five-year-old would not finish her plate with such a promise? Her love for food has only grown over the years, and she has cooked many Middle Eastern specialties and other global cuisines with vigor, some turning out delectable from the first try and others requiring a couple of flops to perfect. Some — ahem, pita bread from scratch — are yet to be perfected (er, attempted), but isn’t that what the life of a culinary aficionado is all about? Heba’s food philosophy is simple: she believes that food should be eaten in its most natural and most wholesome state. She has an ever-growing passion for sustainable organic agriculture and local farming (rooftoop chickens, anyone?) She recently founded EatLuv, a startup that makes the highest quality pantry ingredients, starting with grass-fed clarified butter (samna). When she’s not testing recipes and talking to farmers, she’s reading the latest about nutrition. To read a bit about that, feel free to check out her personal Facebook Page, Twitter, and Pinterest. Heba has a Master’s degree in English Literature, and her love for reading and research has her reading and writing about food almost as much as she cooks. One of the best things that has ever happened to her is falling in love with Sherif, now her husband and taste-tester, who has the golden opportunity of enduring her culinary mishaps (and more often than not, enjoying her successes in the kitchen). Some of her favorite things: sunshine, family, good 80s music, anchovies, salsa dancing, Egyptian jokes, a good read, toasted libb, fresh raw cream with almost anything, and friendly strangers.
[typography font=”Cabin Sketch” size=”30″ size_format=”px” color=”#307887″]CONTRIBUTORS[/typography]
Jessica is a Palestinian American whose childhood was spent in France, Egypt, and Jerusalem, with stints in the United States. Exposed to many delicious foods as a child, from salty black olives and fig jam, to crusty French baguettes, her childhood was often centered on the table. As a child, she learned the power of food, both for nourishment and for forming cultural-identity. As an adult, learning how to cook and to cook well became one of her central pursuits; she challenged herself to only cook real food, from scratch, and to get dinner on the table (almost!) every night of the week. Jessica’s study of Middle Eastern foods began in earnest when she started to investigate the traditional foods movement. Feeling physically depleted, she searched for a deeper approach to nutrition beyond the standard modern recommendations. She realized that this time-honored approach to nourishment coincided precisely with the way her mother, grandmother and great grandmother had always eaten. This launched Jessica on a new journey of returning to the old ways – of cooking traditional Palestinian foods, and of preparing them as closely as possible to the way they were originally prepared. To read more about it, check out her blog, Bint Rhoda’s Kitchen. You can also follow her on Pinterest and on Facebook. In keeping with her love of old things, Jessica enjoys reading old books, and has a degree in English Literature. She taught literature, rhetoric and writing at a classical school for a number of years before choosing to stay home to nurture her own little ones. She, her husband and two children live in Fairfax, Virginia, in a pretty and friendly community, surrounded by parkland, streams and playgrounds. Some of her favorite things are: hot cups of tea in the afternoon, great books, walks in the park with her children, British period films, experimenting in the kitchen, and sharing good food with good friends.
Joumana is a Lebanese-French creative who lived all her life in Beirut and has recently settled in London. Her body of work encompasses graphic design, illustration, comic books, digital games and children’s literature, all of which can be perused on her website, Majnouna.com. For the past few years she has been dedicated to the practice of contemporary Arabic calligraphy, the essence of which she learned from a master back home. Joumana brings an added dimension to her work by the alchemical process of preparing her own pigments, and this practice continues right into the kitchen where the transformation of raw ingredients into food fascinates her endlessly. She is in love with all aspects of food-making and passionate about cooking with wholesome ingredients and love (the invisible ingredient!) in order to nourish both body and soul. Her illustrated recipes aim to tempt people into the healthy habit of making their own food, reconnecting with something essential. She also sneaks in traditional Lebanese recipes to help counter the mindless commodification and dilution of her culinary heritage that is taking place in the West. Joumana is popular at gatherings because… cupcakes. Follow her on her sketch blog, Facebook page, Twitter, or keep an eye on her doings via Instagram.