Guest Instagrammer: Joudie Kalla

Over the next two weeks, Joudie Kalla, a 37 year-old Palestinian chef, whose family is from the historic towns of  Safed and Al-Lydd, will be taking over our Instagram account.

CK: Tell us about yourself, your background and how you became a chef.

Joudie: Both sides of my family are Palestinian. My parents met when they were ten and have been together ever since. I am one of five children, the youngest girl, and our home was always filled with food and people. My mother was always entertaining visitors and family friends. Her food is simply wonderful. I graduated with a bachelors in art and architecture and then entered a masters program. At this point in my education, I realized that I was not being true to myself and enrolled in a catering school to train as a chef. I came to life in the kitchen! My mother was very pleased with this decision, as she and I had become closer than ever through our mutual love of food and cooking. This was the start of the rest of my life.

CK: How has growing up abroad shaped your relationship with Palestinian food?

Joudie: Being Palestinian abroad has shaped me in every sense. I do everything with fire and passion. I have a burning desire to educate people about Palestinian cuisine: its diversity, colorful nature and suitability for all palates. After I had worked several years as a chef, I opened my own Palestinian deli/restaurant called Baity Kitchen, which means “My Home Kitchen,” serving Palestinian dishes with a menu that changed daily. It was extremely popular and successful. In a way, I become “more Palestinian” with age and more passionate about our culture, food and history. The Palestinian way of life is truly wonderful.

CK: What recipes do you enjoy cooking the most ?

Joudie: For me, food has a very strong connection to places and people. The recipes I enjoy cooking the most are the ones that have memories attached to them. These dishes remind me daily of my mother, aunties and grandmothers. I love sayyadiyeh (fish with rice and cumin), knafeh (a pastry with cheese, soaked in sugar syrup) and my mother’s warak inab (stuffed grape leaves) – the list goes on and on. I feel that most people are the same in that we all share the experience of being human, and that’s what I love about cooking and feeding people. After I closed my business down due a rent increase, all of my customers wanted to learn how to make my dishes. That’s how “Palestine on a Plate“, my website and app, was born.