5 Questions with Chef Sameh Wadi
photo by matt lien
Chef Sameh Wadi of Saffron and World Street Kitchen brought contemporary Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine to Minneapolis. Now, you can recreate dishes from the culinary master at home with his recent cookbook, The New Mediterranean Table, which holds pages of mouthwatering recipes inspired by traditions from Europe, Asia, and Africa. And to see him demo a favorite recipe, check out our June Cook Like feature.
- What are some of your favorite recipes in your new cookbook, The New Mediterranean Table?
That’s a very difficult question to answer. It’s like asking your parents, “Who’s your favorite child?” The section of the book that I’m most excited about has to be the larder [a chapter of spice blends and pastes, pickling recipes, and sauces and stocks]. The larder is the heart and soul of the book. They are the building blocks that are essential to my style of cooking.
- Does it include any recipes that a beginner can conquer?
Absolutely! All of the recipes are easy to follow with very through instructions to help a beginner feel comfortable with the new exciting flavors of the Mediterranean.
- What family ties do you draw into your cooking?
Family is very important to me. My earliest food memories stem from my mother’s kitchen in the Middle East.
- How do you meld such contrasting flavors together from different regions?
Although the Mediterranean spans three continents, the strong historical connections and the nomadic nature of its early inhabitants led to common elements and undertones in the cuisine, making it very easy to cook without looking at borders.
- When you first opened Saffron and World Street Kitchen, did you find that Minnesotans took to the food easily, or did it take some time to introduce those global flavors?
We’ve been lucky to always have very supportive guests. Never in a million years did I imagine that we would get this much love and support from the community. It’s truly been amazing.