Our café is like home for me, I want people to see our generosity
Studied on Humanities Faculty of Perm National Research Polytechnic University, founder of the vegetarian café Ali Falafel and café of Indian cuisine Garam Masala.
- It is important for me to talk to guests, learn their opinion; this is what I love in my job.
- I found myself in Perm, here I have work I love, and I feel I can live here.
- There are many people in the city who understand, feel, listen to each other — this is important for me.
Eight years ago, I came from my homeland Egypt to live and study in Perm. Now I have wife and kids here, I am completely used to Perm, and I already feel myself almost Russian. I entered the faculty of humanities in Perm Polytechnic University and studied three years there, but then I had to choose between work and studies. I chose work.
My kitchen story started with an idea of a restaurant day in the university. It went well; they started inviting us on festivals and other events. Slowly quite enough people learnt about our falafel, they asked where they could try it, and idea came of opening a kiosk. However, of course, we aimed at opening the restaurant.
You know, when you believe in idea, you need to work for it! To realize it you need head, powers, and a person. And we had even two people (smiles). My wife and I work together. I am responsible for the idea and cuisine, she suggests how we can realize and develop it. We are a strong team — together we can do anything. That is how Ali Falafel appeared.
I am more concerned about the idea, not the profit. I wanted to show people Arabian cuisine. Many think it is only meat, but Arabian food is different, for example, all the dishes in Ali Falafel's menu are vegetarian. All the recipes are family ones, from home, and I cook everything myself. I enjoy it a lot, I found myself in it. I've never worked in the kitchen before: in Egypt I was bartender, waiter, manager of the hotel. But I realized myself only here, in the kitchen. When I cook, I do it exactly as I would have done it for myself — with inspiration.
I like it when I see that my guests are enjoying what I've cooked for them. In moments like this I don't glow with pride and don't think how cool I am, no — it is like I and God share a secret, to guess what exactly the guest wants. It gives me strength.
I wish people not only from Perm knew about us. It is not about popularity; I just want people to understand the idea and visit us to try our food. I've already received several offers about opening franchise in other cities, but for now it is important for me to be in the kitchen myself and to be responsible for the recipes; it is important for chef to cook with love and inspiration at heart. In order to work like that one needs a strong team. For example, we currently don't work with Russian chefs: it is important that chef follows the recipe, for dish to remain the same every day, for it not to change because of the change of the chef. Food has to have true Indian or Arabian taste. I think it works the same with the Russian cuisine — only a Russian man can cook Russian food.
We are currently looking for a new place for Ali Falafel. Our café is vegetarian, and I don't want to give this idea up. But often we have pairs with different tastes in food, and it would be better if they don't leave just because one hasn't found anything for his taste in the menu. We are trying to think of a solution so that everyone will feel himself or herself comfortable.
I like cooking, I inherited it from my parents, and I also like spending time with children — playing with them, talking. Not only with my children, and I have four of them. Often our guests come with their children, and I like being around them.
I am from a big family; I have six brothers and three sisters, with me being the youngest of them all. Everyone already has kids of their own. It's a pity, time has changed and we spend less and less time together. When I was little, ten of us were sitting at one table. These are precious memories.