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Walking down a very lively street in Zamalek, next to El-Sawy culture wheel, I spotted Ziza Wiza gallery where I was to run this interview with Chef Osman Ghaleb the same location where his infamous cooking classes take place. I went in with the “I hate cooking” attitude and left with a smile on my face and one thought knocking on my brain “Cooking is joy!” and I hope you will too after reading this interview…
But first, for all who don’t know who Osman Ghaleb is…
Ghaleb started his zeal for cooking with the infamous, mouth watering House 2 House catering and in 2008 he decided to share his passion with everybody with the “let’s cook together” cooking classes. You know what? I prefer you know it all from the man himself, so just read on…
L: So, How did you get to love cooking this much?
O: Well, I graduated from the faculty of tourism and hotels, and on the second year we have this kitchen training where we get to learn all about cooking. On that year I got to travel to England which was intended to be for only a couple of months, instead I spent 6 months learning how to cook professionally.
L: What provoked the idea?
O: At first, I wanted to open up a small cozy restaurant serving a maximum of 25 customers and I got somehow near that idea through my catering business “House 2 House catering” that I started since the year 2000. Also, I wanted to teach cooking but in a nonacademic manner so first I had the idea of a nonconventional cooking school and that’s why I started the cooking classes with the same direction I’d like to follow at my futuristic cooking school with the slogan “let’s cook together”.
L: Do you accept any woman who might not even know how to slice up a tomato?
O: Absolutely, we cook together; taking it step by step and afterwards we have like a cuisine tasting… So, it’s absolutely fun and it doesn’t matter if you’re an absolute pro or a beginner.
L: Certainly I’m a beginner, but I’m curious though, as a man who’s a chef, who do you think does it better?
O: Well, I believe that professionally speaking, men do it better, I mean it’s the accustomed fact that most famous chefs are men. But, creatively speaking, you can compete with a woman’s touch!
L: Nice save, so can you give us tips for working women, how to prepare meals, keep them fresh, etc…?
O: Everything works better if we plan ahead, always prepare for your meal one day prior. Do the slicing, the cleaning all one day before and then on the working day, you come home exhausted, all you have to do is mix the ingredients together and cook, that should take like 15 min only. So, you’ve cooked a nice meal for your family and saved the extra effort to spend time with them as well.
L: That’s a very helpful idea, but how about a bride to be preparing for her marital life? What are the necessary basics she must learn?
O: Of course our every basic Egyptian food rice, meat, chicken and pasta. As Egyptians we don’t care much about neither veggies nor herbs which is sad really because they’re so healthy, bring so much to the meal and diversity to your taste buds.
L: I’ve been meaning to ask you this, what do you think of Egyptian food?
O: It’s obviously delicious but remains unhealthy for the minimal amounts of veggies included. You see, anything can be cooked healthy or stuffy… It all depends on how to cook it. Consider pasta which is not an unhealthy food, at some point I was dieting and I was eating pasta every day, with olive oil, some tuna sprayed on top or tomato sauce. This is healthy but when adding white sauce and all other fattening ingredients it transforms to this unhealthy meal. Again it all comes down to how you cook it
L: What are the most popular classes?
O: Pasta, Italian in general and Chinese of course.
L: Why do people join such classes?
O: For various reasons really, I usually have like 7 people per class, 80% of which are women. Some people join to learn cooking as a basic life necessity, but the majority show up only for the love of it.
L: Who is your role model chef?
O: Jamie Oliver, he’s English… He’s known as the naked chef
L: Tell us about your dreams?
O: I have exactly three dreams:
1. Cooking classes developing to a cooking school
2. A restaurant
3. A Book, actually I have two books coming out; one is all about oriental food and the other concerns mainly with breakfast.
Well, good luck on everything and looking forward to the couple’s cooking class in Feb. so consider this my RSVP, I’m definitely in!