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Tue 26 Apr 2011 12:00 AM

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Food with heart

Celebrity chef Suzanne Husseini on home cooking, female chefs, and why the kitchen is the heart of the home

Food with heart
Husseini says it is essential to follow your passion and do what you love

On being inspired

Before you can begin any career you have to love what you do and I just love to cook. I learned that love in my mother’s kitchen. So I have always kept that love of cooking, that passion, alive in my heart. After marrying and having children that’s just what I did naturally because that’s the way my mother showed her love to us, and I have always equated food and love together.

Bringing Arabic cuisine to the masses

I crave to see more Arabic restaurants; and not just Arabic restaurants that serve hummus, tabbouleh, baba ganoush - they are lovely restaurants, but I want people to be exposed to the Arabic cuisine beyond, because there is so much more. I want to see the home cooking that my mother used to make me, served in an Arabic restaurant. I would like to be able to go out and eat the food I also cook at home. That is exactly what inspired me to write a book [Suzanne’s first book When Suzanne Cooks is out now].

Being authentic but original

When I first started out in my career and was doing a cookery programme on one of the Arabic networks, I showcased Arabic cuisine and I did it in my own way - sometimes I modernised a dish by making it look different or even taking an ingredient out or adding one to a traditional dish that has been cooked the same way for 100 years. So I enhance it and change it according to my taste buds. I put my own twist on it, but it stays true to the integrity of the dish and the authenticity of it.

On iconic female chefs

I admire female chefs, people like Julia Child - she was a pioneer for all women, to be a chef in France at Cordon Bleu and be the only woman, that’s amazing. I also look at modern chefs like Nigella Lawson, who made it fun to be in the kitchen and made it okay to lick your finger on camera and cook whatever you like, and make a mess. She celebrates food, she is all about cooking at home - I love that about Nigella.

Advice to newcomers in the industry

Get in tune with your passions - follow your passion, what you love is the best compass. That’s what I did and I think life is too short to be doing something you don’t like. So if food is your love and your passion, if it’s food you get excited about, then do it.

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