Mezze & Dolce

Light Mediterranean Meals Paired with Ample Dessert

Inspiration: Norooz Interview with Chef Louisa Shafia

Photo courtesy of www.lucidfood.com

Photo courtesy of http://www.lucidfood.com

“Akin to the Christian Easter Celebration, Norooz marks the beginning of the Iranian New Year, a joyful time of cultural unity that is observed by Persians in and outside of Iran…Norooz celebrations are notable for a profusion of green hues…Even the food at Norooz gets the green herb treatment.” -from Louisa Shafia’s New Persian Kitchen

Welcome to our inaugural M&D interview! In honor of Norooz (the Persian New Year), we talked with contemporary Persian chef Louisa Shafia about her wedding cake, her love of pomegranate molasses, and what she’s learned about life from being a chef.

M&D: You’re hosting a casual dinner party at your house. What do you serve as a mezze or appetizer?
LS: Definitely sabzi khordan, a fresh herb platter that’s served at most Persian meals. It’s so easy, but it’s also beautiful and satisfying. People might think it’s just rabbit food, but it’s not. In addition to the fresh herbs and radishes, there’s feta, lavash, and walnuts.

M&D: What is the best dessert you’ve ever eaten, either that you’ve made yourself or someone else made for you?
LS: Honestly, I really loved my wedding cake. It was a multi-tiered vanilla cake with white buttercream icing and covered in strawberries. The cake was a combination of recipes given to me by a couple of friends who are both amazing bakers. We got married in Austin, Tx, so we went to a co-op of local growers and put the last strawberries of the season in the cake. There was so much love in it.

M&D: What other chefs, artisans, etc. are doing creative things with food and/or inspiring you right now?
LS: There’s a great chef named Sara Kramer who opened a restaurant in New York called Glasserie. I recently ate there, and it was the best meal I’ve had in a long time. Her food features Mediterranean/Middle Eastern flavors and locally sourced ingredients, but it’s really different from Persian food.

M & D: What did you have there?
LS: I had some kind of a seabass crudo with citrus, herbs and olive oil. A flat iron steak with this unbelievable seasoning – I can’t even describe it. Roasted cauliflower with labne. Mast Brothers chocolate torte with some kind of sesame in it – maybe even tahini. It was divine.

M&D: Name one ingredient you cannot live without.
LS: That’s a tough one. I’d have to say pomegranate molasses. It has everything – sweet, tart, fruity. It adds a lot of character and beautiful color to dishes.

M&D: What’s your favorite dish that uses pomegranate molasses?
LS: Fesenjan – it’s a traditional stew of chicken, walnuts, and pomegranate molasses. It’s sort of the go-to pomegranate molasses recipe, but it really started my fascination with it. The combination of the molasses and ground walnuts is just magical, and you can put anything in it – chickpeas, butternut squash, tempeh.

M&D: What have you learned about life from being a chef?
LS: I’ve learned that working with other people is crucial to realizing and bringing your vision into the world. You can’t do everything by yourself. Putting other people’s input, creativity, and unique capabilities into what you’re doing makes everything richer. You need to see your ideas through different eyes.

M&D: Looking into your culinary crystal ball, what do you predict will be the next big trend in food?
LS: People are getting really excited about Middle Eastern cooking and flavors. I know that it’s incredibly self-referential to say that, but I feel like we’re going to keep going deeper into this cuisine.

Thanks so much for chatting with us, Louisa!

Photo courtesy of www.lucidfood.com

Photo courtesy of http://www.lucidfood.com

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2 comments on “Inspiration: Norooz Interview with Chef Louisa Shafia

  1. Pingback: Mezze: Sabzi Khordan | Mezze & Dolce

  2. Pingback: Inspiration: Interview with Chef Lacey Sher of Encuentro | Mezze & Dolce

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This entry was posted on March 20, 2014 by in M & D Inspiration and tagged .

About Jacque & Jaime

Jaime and Jacque are two gals who discovered a mutual passion for Mediterranean flavors and ingredients and never turned back. They started Mezze & Dolce to share this love, their recipes, and their inspirations with the world. Follow them at www.mezzeanddolce.com.

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