Your Lebanon Chef Feature: Patty’s Food Fare
Patty Darwish is the experienced recipe developer and personal chef behind PattysFoodFare.com. As a Lebanese American, Patty presents Lebanese Food infused with mid-west flare. We appreciate her use of healthy Mediterranean ingredients (grains, fresh vegetables, herbs, beans and more) and the beautiful Mediterranean salads & dishes she creates with them. We also love all the healthy vegan and vegetarian Middle Eastern & Mediterranean dishes she shares!
Guest Recipe Features:
Q & A with Patty
Please tell us about yourself:
Food has always been important in my home. I learned my recipes from my grandmother and parents. I learned how to cook by feel, sight and smell.
My name is Patricia pronounced Pat-reesia, as my parents call me. I was born and raised in Michigan my whole life. My great grandfather came to the United States from Lebanon in hopes of starting a new life here. I’m the oldest of 33 grandchildren, single mother of 4 beautiful children and eldest child in my family. Food has always been important in my home. I learned my recipes from my grandmother and parents. I learned how to cook by feel, sight and smell.
Our family gatherings were exciting and loud. It always revolved around food. There was always some competition amongst my aunts on who makes the best grape leaves or hummus. At times, we would have 4 different plates of hummus because they each thought theirs was the best. In reality they are all great, we all just loved to cook.
My passion for food stayed with me and as I had children I believed I owed it to them to give them the same experience I had growing up. Having a home cooked meal was important for me as I hope it becomes important for them as they grow up and venture into this world.
Cooking became more than just a passion and more of a mission. In 2016 I was diagnosed with Cancer and I thought my life was over. I was going to chemotherapy, stopped work, and became so tired that I just stayed in bed all day. My motivation for life disappeared. I was put on a strict diet eliminating all my fresh vegetables and fruit. No sugar was allowed in my body. My meals became blander and I hated it. I got so sick of the same meals every day. I began to create recipes one day at a time that fit into my meal restrictions.
It was a beautiful thing as I look back at it. I would pick a dish to make and my father would gather the ingredients. Instead of getting out of bed at noon, I found myself up before my children were off to school. I would begin to prep the meal, chopping the vegetables, making the dough, sautéing the meat….It would take me hours to complete a dish because I would have to stop in between due to my weakness in my hands, but I kept going.
Cooking made me forget I had cancer and by forgetting I had cancer, I began to beat it. My mind was consumed with what I was going to make the next day, motivating me to get out of bed. Cooking saved my life.
Summer of 2017, my doctors told me I was in full remission from my cancer and I made the decision to leave a career of over 20 years as an Early Childhood Specialist and enrolled in Culinary School. I’ve decided to dedicate my life to food! I went from classroom to kitchen and I’m loving every minute.
I started my blog Pattysfoodfare.com to share all my favorite recipes. This summer I will be opening my own catering company Inspired Catering Detroit. It’s been an exciting journey and I wouldn’t change a thing. Cancer made me stop and be still and allowed me to find a passion that fed my soul. I am in hopes that people are inspired to feed their soul, find their passion and live life to its fullest.
Where are you from:
Family is from Lebanon, I was born in Detroit, Michigan
Where are you currently residing:
What is your favorite Middle Eastern dish to make:
That’s like asking which child I love more! But if I had to decide, I love the authentic village dishes that were made with grains, fresh vegetables and herbs.
Do you prefer traditional Middle Eastern dishes or modern/fusion Middle Eastern dishes:
I love the classic Middle Eastern Cuisine, but I eat, sleep and breath food, so I’m always looking for creative ways to step up the Middle Eastern Cuisine to another level.
What do you love most about cooking Middle Eastern cuisine:
Middle Eastern Cuisine is packed with amazing ingredients. It’s simple ingredients that are packed with flavor and has many health benefits.
What is your favorite Middle Eastern restaurant:
Jannat Al-Sanawbar Restaurant in Jizzen Lebanon. There is a village in Lebanon named Jizzen. It’s a few miles from my parents’ home in Kafarhouna. It sits atop a mountain overseeing this amazing view of the mountains and water fall. The food is traditional Lebanese.
What is your favorite food blog:
What is a must have tool in your kitchen for making Middle Eastern food:
My knives are my favorite tool. Without them I’m not able to create amazing food.
What advice do you have for someone just starting to find their way around the kitchen:
Pick ingredients that you love and experiment with different ways to cook them.
Cooking is like painting, you have a blank canvas to create anything you want. Learn simple techniques and add your own unique flavors. Although there are some golden rules in the kitchen when cooking, everyone needs to enjoy the process of creating a meal. Have fun and cook with your soul.
What nostalgic candy bar would you grab on walks to the local deken when you were a kid:
My favorite thing to buy from the deken was seeds and nuts. They were always fresh and roasted to perfection.
I went from classroom to kitchen and I’m loving every second of my decision to follow my passion.- Patty Darwish