Chef Suzanne Husseini at Home
Chef Suzanne Husseini is a chef who can be easily identifiable by her multiple hats: a cookbook writer, a teacher, a chef, and TV Presenter. As she invites us into her life, we ask her to tell us a little on what she wishes more people would know about her and Arabic cuisine, what does it mean to write cookbooks and how more people are picking up cooking, and what’s next.
Tell us a little more on yourself that you wish you could share with your readers.
I am a Palestinian - Canadian. My true love is teaching. I’m in my element cooking and creating recipes. I am passionate about sharing the foods and stories of my Palestinian heritage and the beautiful country I call home in Canada. I can’t imagine my fridge without plenty of fresh lemons and homemade yoghurt.
Your specialty is Arabic cuisine. Are there any misconceptions about the cuisine that you’ve often come across when presenting your show or when talking to people?
Arabic cuisine remains a mystery to most people. It is often thought of as “spice-heavy” and laden with meat and rice dishes. While we do love rice and many dishes feature it there are still hundreds of dishes waiting to be discovered that use many grains like Freekeh, Burghul, Couscous for example. The subtle use of herbs is prominent in Arabic cuisine and can also be the star ingredient like we see in the beautiful salad known as Tabbouleh.
And most people have been introduced to many wonderful street foods like Shawarma, Falafel, Zaatar Flatbreads (Manaqeesh) and the exceptional refined dishes are enjoyed in homes and not in a fine dining restaurant setting.
You’ve written two books about Arabic cuisine. Was it difficult to transpose your thoughts and emotions of the food you create on paper when writing the books?
It was easy because every dish I recreated in my kitchen and ultimately in my books was connected to an unforgettable memory. My recipes tell a story of my childhood as a new Palestinian immigrant learning to adapt and share the food of my heritage with friends and neighbors in my new home in Canada. The smells and taste of the food flooded my memory and I could recollect every detail. I would hear my mother’s voice and feel her breath (Nafas) in every dish.
I also cooked every dish where I might put my own little modern twist. I believe that in order to preserve the traditional foods we need to know the foundation and respect the old ways but when changing a dish you maintain the integrity and not distort the origin. My mother tested many recipes that may not have looked like her own dishes but she could still recognize the familiar flavours that were Arabic and authentic.
To find out more about what Chef Husseini is up to, or to get inspiration for your own dishes at home when you view her recipes that you can try for yourself at home,, pick up a digital copy of Cuisine & Wine Asia’s July/August issue, available on Magzter or on our own portal! What’s more, get access to all our past magazine issues for free on digital! Read stories from local and overseas chefs, read new recipes from appetizers to desserts, gain access to exclusive YouTube videos and learn more about the Food & Beverage scene! All these activities will ensure that you make the best use of your time to learn new information!
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