“Syrians bring culinary talents to uptown eatery”
Telegraph Journal: Greater Saint John Tuesday, February 2, 2016
Saint John- Hiring two Syrian chefs may prove a big win-win for both Taste Of Egypt Restaurant and it’s new employees.
Mohannad Elkhateeb started at the restaurant one month ago, while Mouhammed Moussa is scheduled to begin working at the resturant Thursday. Both work as chefs at the restaurant, whitch was thier line of work in their home country.
The restaurant serves primary Egyptian food, a cuisine that can be hard to tackle for many chefs, said Paula Radwan who manages the resturant with her husband, Ehab.
Up until hiring Elkhateeb and Moussa, Ehab who hails from Egypt, has been the restaurant sole chef as they’d found it difficult to find chefs who could meet their needs. “We have had some chefs that we’ve hired, that were working in the city for 15, 20 years and we didn’t think it would be that difficult to train them, but actually it was,” she said.
“In their defence, they don’t even know what the food is suppose to taste like not being familiar with the cuisine, which we kind of hoped that that was something else we could train”.
This means Ehab needs to work six days a week, and the couple rarely both have a day off at the same time, Radwan said, They’re hoping if their new chefs can take over the kitchen, he can get some time off, she added.
“He’s had burnout happen a few times, so it’s kind of keeping the level of pressure down for him” she said.
Ehab also hasn’t been able to go home and visit his family in Egypt in close to six years, as it would mean having to close down the restaurant while he’s away, Radwan said. By hiring these chefs, they’re also hoping that they now have the staffing levels to expand their business.
“We’ve almost been a little nervous to take on too much business, but now the sky’s the limit.” She said.
The restaurant got in touch with Elkhateeb though the YMCA after one of their employees suggested him as a hire, said Radwan.
“He started a month ago and he’s already serving the food exactly how we want it served. He’s prepping everything perfectly and hoping to be a good employee” she said.
Mousa was hired after coming into the restaurant with a volunteer welcome group. Both Elk and Mousa will be working in the restaurant part time while they take language lessons.
Using Ehab as a translator, Elkhateeb said he has worked “all his life” as a chef, but thought it would be too hard to fine the same kind of work in Canada. He said he “feels really happy” to have found a job in his feild in Canada. Mousa said he had similar worries about finding work, but feels “really happy and really appreciative” to be working at Taste Of Egypt.
The influx of Syrian refugees into Saint John has created a huge boost for their business, Radwan said. The restaurant has been asked to cater for orientation events for refugees while also seeing many volunteer groups bringing families in while showing them around the city.
“Ehab and i are overwhelmed with how many of the volunteer welcoming community’s are bringing Syrians in, on their bill, to bring them out to the restaurant so they could have some familiar food. We have people coming in every week,” She said.
“It’s just really nice to see them coming out. It’s a little challenging to communicate with them, but they’re enjoying dinner together, learning a lot about the culture. I think it’s having a positive impact on their families.”
“Syrian refugees find employment in N.B. kitchen”
Published Thursday, February 4, 2016
An entrepreneur in New Brunswick is singing the praises of a pair of Syrian refugees after hiring them to work at his restaurant.
Ehab Radwan is the co-owner of the Taste of Egypt, a Mediterranean restaurant in Saint John. He arrived in the Maritimes six years ago from Egypt.
Ehab Radwan recently hired two Syrian refugees, with experience preparing Arabic cuisine, to work in his kitchen.
“Ehab is from Egypt and you know, they’re Arabs, and he feels such a soft spot for them because they are his people and he has been really overwhelmed by what the Canadians are doing and he has actually told me that,” says Paula Radwan, restaurant co-owner.
Ehab Radwan says he is proud to be in Canada.
“I’m proud of that prime minister. I’m proud for Saint John and the Maritimes, because what I see now I never seen in Muslim countries, I’ve never seen in any country I’ve been before,” says Ehab Radwan.
Paula and Ehab hope that having new employees will allow them some well-deserved downtime.
“I’m hoping he can replace me, because I haven’t had any vacation for four years. I haven’t seen my family for six years,” says Ehab Radwan.
“So Canada is rescuing them, but the Syrian chefs are rescuing us,” says Paula Radwan. “So this is a really great opportunity from both sides.”
Local officials say the newcomers will make a difference in the city.
“There’s doctors, lawyers, medical practitioners, all kinds of people coming in, and they’re gonna enhance the community and they’re gonna start paying taxes when they get employed. So it’s good, a win-win,” says John MacKenzie, a Saint John councillor.
The Syrian refugees who are working at the restaurant are among a total of 500 refugees expected to arrive in Saint John before the spring.
Many Syrian refugees living in the Maritimes are finding it difficult to access food deemed acceptable under Islamic law. A Saint John restaurateur is trying to tackle that problem with an initiative that helps his community and may, in turn, boost his business.
It’s a pop-up market at the Taste of Egypt restaurant designed to serve the newly landed Syrian refugees who now call Saint John home.
“Syrian chefs find a home in Saint John”
February 16th 2016 | 09:52 AM
By Bill Tremblay
SAINT JOHN, N.B. – While the arrival of Syrian refugees in Canada has been met with mixed emotions politically, their landing is a godsend for chef Ehab Radwan.
Since opening Taste of Egypt in Saint John, N.B., about four years ago, Radwan has struggled to find chefs who know how to prepare Egyptian fare. As one of the city’s few sources of Middle Eastern food, few are familiar with the cuisine in Saint John.
“When it comes to Mediterranean food, they’re learning from the beginning,” Radwan said. “The don’t expect what it will taste like or look like. They think it’s Indian food and it’s really hot or has curry.”
In an effort to find an experienced Middle Eastern chef, Radwan looked to Egypt, hoping to find a chef willing to relocate to Canada. He also began contacting the YMCA, multicultural centres and newcomer groups in search of anyone with Middle Eastern culinary experience.
“I tried everything, trust me,” he said.
When Syrian refugees began to arrive in Canada, the YMCA contacted Radwan to inform him one of the new Saint John residents had worked as a chef before fleeing his homeland. A second chef arrived a few weeks later. Radwan hired both Muhannad Elkhatib and Mohamad Mousa, who each have more than a decade of Middle Eastern kitchen experience.
“As a cook, they’re really good. They don’t need any training. The only problem is getting an order form the server,” Radwan said. “They don’t speak English. I have to be with them and read the order in Arabic and they cook it.”
He added little training was required for the Syrian chefs to learn Egyptian cuisine.
“Kebabs are everywhere in the Middle East. It may have different spices, but it’s the same idea,” Radwan said.
As they cook together, Radwan explains the English words for each kitchen utensil.
“When we’re working, I tell them ‘This is a fry pan. This is a pot or a spoon or fork.’ I keep teaching them,” he said. “Now they’re starting to use English a little bit.”
Once the new chefs learn enough English to run the kitchen, Radwan plans to take a vacation.
“I haven’t seen my family for six years, I can’t leave the country, because I can’t leave the restaurant,” Radwan said. “If I go, I have to close the business.”
Outside of the Taste of Egypt kitchen, Radwan said his new chefs are enjoying life in Saint John.
“They like it here, it’s quiet and good for their families,” Radwan said. “The people here are really friendly and are helping them a lot.”
“Restaurant owners open halal market in Saint John”
Telegraph Journal: Greater Saint John
March 23, 2016
Owners of Taste of Egypt are serving up a special halal market once a week to help Syrian newcomers plate traditional Arabic foods at home.
Every Sunday from 2-4 p.m., guests will be able to purchase uncooked halal meat and Mediterranean produce at the uptown restaurant.
Last weekend the store hosted a test-run market which saw more than 20 families come out, said co-owner Ehab Radwan.
“It was crazy” he said in an interview Tuesday. “People were loading up boxes.”
A number of items proved to be popular including ghee – a type of vegetable oil.
“you can’t find it here at all,” Radwan said adding it looks like butter but is totally different. “That was the first thing cleared from the shelf.”
A variety of dried beans were also snatched up fairly quickly, including dried chickpeas and broad beans, Radwan said.
“some stores do bring in these items but they are not always there,” he said. “Some days you find it, some days you don’t.”
The Idea spawned from the restaurant three Syrians hires who kept asking their boss how he got his some of his ingredients.
” I bring the stuff in for my restaurant anyway- similar meats and spices,” Radwan said. “so, from the same supplier I started shipping the stuff they need.”
The Taste of Egypt’s Egyptian-food Supplier is based out in Montreal and Toronto but orders food directly from the Middle East.
The average Syrian family has four or five kids, Radwan said.
“So with seven people in the house eating three meals a day, and they don’t go to restaurants because they’re scared to try food, that’s a lot of food daily,” he said.
The restaurant owner knows first hand how hard it can be to find Middle Eastern ingredients in Canada since he moved to Saint John six years ago from Egypt.
“The first year was the hardest,” he said. “I am open minded, I travel every where, but even in a nice restaurant you have to be used to the food.”
Immigrants from all over the world come to Canada and open restaurants of different ethnic cuisines.
Unlike the Middle East where they don’t have the same variety, Radwan said.
“I never had Indian food until I came here,” he said. “I never tried poutine and I’m a chef.”
Vegetables found in the Middle East are a lot different than ones found in Canada and actually taste different even though they have the same name, Radwan said.
“It’s not like here with added hormones,” he said. “The farmer just cut it that day in the morning two hours ago, he will go to the market and sell it and everyday do the same.”
“So our onions taste different; our cucumber, our tomatoes, they all taste different.”
The original thought was to open a halal market separate from Taste of Egypt considering the growing number Syrian refugees, Radwan said.
“I would just need to rent a place, but it’s still not easy,” he said.
Chilli and Olive was a Middle Eastern market in uptown Saint John that closed last year.
“It was open for years but there wasn’t enough community to just buy from him so it didn’t work,” Radwan said. “Of course Syrians weren’t here yet, but it’s still not enough to rent a place and pay tax and hire people to work.”
For now, Radwan and his wife Paula Radwan, will stick to running a halal market solely on Sunday, Ehab Radwan said.
“I’m just glad I’m helping them to find their food,” he said.
“Saint John restaurant owner opens market aimed at Syrian refugees”
March 27, 2016 5:01 pm
By Andrew Cromwell
Video Journalist Global News
“No alcohol, no liquor in any products,” Taste of Egypt owner Ehab Radwan explained. “For the meat it’s the way you slaughter the animal to be Halal…It’s the same idea of Kosher for Jewish.”
This is only the second Sunday Radwan has opened the market and on March 27 there was a steady stream of people through the door.
Radwan came to Saint John from Alexandria Egypt six years ago. He can relate to the situation many Syrians are facing in Saint John, trying to adapt to a new culture.
“I felt I have to do something for them so I’m trying to help them settle down here as much as I can.”
The service he is now providing certainly seems to be appreciated by his customers.
Michelle Mullett is a welcome team member to Rosem Abzid and says it’s important to give the Syrian refugees a sense of home.
“This allows them to eat the food that they’re familiar with,” Mullett said.
“They’ve had so much change and it’s difficult when the meal doesn’t feel like home.”
Saint John is now home to about 400 Syrian refugees – that’s several dozen families.
Some locals were also checking things out, which impressed Rosem.
“I said to her, ‘In Canada we’re open to trying different cultures’ menus and this enables us to do it,’ but it also gives her the feeling of home,” Mullet added.
Right now Radwan is bringing in products not readily available here with plans to up his inventory if necessary.
“We keep adding more and yeah we’re able to bring in as much as I can.”
“Burger week insider: Moussaka, Greek Burgers at Taste Of Egypt”
Telegraph Journal: Greater Saint John
Thursday, May 5, 2016
Saint John: There are dozens of juicy burgers on the menu for Burger Week but, there’s only one place to find a Greek inspired vegan burger.
Burger Week, which features 26 Saint John restaurants, runs until May 8.
Taste Of Egypt’s Moussaka burger, derived from one of the Mediterranean restaurant’s top dishes, has been assembled into a sandwich with layers of eggplant, bell peppers, onion and potatoes topped with a speciality tomato sauce.
What makes the Burger unique is that the Vegetables are lightly fried together in a pan then layered with sauce on the bun, Said Ehab Radwan, co-owner of taste of Egypt.
“People love eggplant,” He said, in a thick Egyptian accent. “the eggplant, peppers and sauce makes it way different than any burger you’ve ever eaten.”
Taste Of Egypt’s dirty burger is also on the menu made with beef kofta, saganaki (deep fried mozzarella cheese), fried egg, lettuce, tomato, pickle, onion and pesto sauce.
But the restaurant’s Greek Burger, made with beef kofta, topped with feta cheese, tomato, onion, cucumber, lettuce, kalamata olives and garlic mayonnaise, has so far been the most popular burger week choice at Taste Of Egypt, Radwan said.
” I love Greek food” Radwan said, adding he is from Egypt but Greek food is very similar to Egyptian. “They use a lot of feta and olives, and they have soulvaki where we have kebabs which is the same idea just with different spices”
Kofta, which is a mixture of beef ans spices, is a main skewered- meat dish on the restaurants regular menu.
“The spice of the beef gives it a totally different texture and freshness”, Radwan said. “You can eat different burger with these same toppings but this one is totally different”
After looking at all the other restaurant’s burger menus, Radwan said Thandi’s butter chicken burger looks quite appetising.
“I love butter chicken,” He said. “And nobody beats Thandi with the butter chicken- I can’t wait until I get to try that burger”
The Taste Of Egypt owner said one of the biggest benefits to living uptown is that everyone supports each other by promoting each other.
“It’s not competition because every one has different food” He said. “In the summer when tourists come, they can come to Taste Of Egypt for Mediterranean food, and if they want Indian they go to Thandi’s, If they want Mexican theirs Taco Pica, Italian, theirs Italian by nigh, pub-ish food, britts and Alehouse.”
“Even the pub food here is different from each other and when we support each other we aren’t taking away from each other because it’s totally different food.”
“We are one family.”
East Coast Living Magazine Page 46 & 49
Middle Eastern Magic spring 2016
This classic Egyptian soup is full of flavour and healthy too. Recipe courtesy of Ehab Radwan, Taste Of Egypt.
12lbs (900g) bonless, skinless chicken breast
5 cups (1.1L) water
14oz (400g) minces molokhia (jute) leaves. If frozen allow time to thaw
1/2tsp (2ml) cumin
1/2tbs (2ml) coriander powder
1/4tbs (1ml) ground black pepper
1/4tbs (1ml) salt, or to taste
t tbsp (30ml) butter or ghee
5 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1. Wash chicken breasts, cut in to small cubes.
2. Broil chicken with water in large pot for 15 minutes.
3. Strain chicken and set aside, pour broth into soup pot and simmer.
4. Add molokhia to broth, season with spices, stir well.
5. simmer 10 minutes.
6. Pour butter or ghee into large skillet over medium high heat.
7. Add garlic, stirr until golden brown, pour over simmering Molokhia.
8. Saute chicken pieces in the same pan, adding more butter if necessary.
9. Add to Molokhia, serve immediately with white Egyptian rice.
Coconut lovers rejoice: this popular Egyptian cake is a real treat and easy to make. Recipe courtesy Ehab Radwan, Taste Of Egypt.
3 cups (750ml) Semolina flour
1/2 cups (60ml) all purpose flour
1 (250ml) coconut
2 cups (500ml) sugar
1/2 tsp (2ml) baking powder
1 1/2 cups (375ml) ghee or butter
2 cups (500ml) milk
1/4 cups (60ml) nuts- pistachio, almond or walnut
2 cups (500ml) water
1 cup (250ml) sugar
1tbsp (15ml) lemon juice
1. Mix together the flour, coconut, sugar, baking powder, and butter or ghee.
2. Add milk. Mix only until moistened but not liquid
3. Spread into a greased, square baking pan.
4. Decorate top with nuts.
5. Bake for 25 minutes at 350F (175C)
6. Meanwhile combine water, sugar and lemon juice in a small saucepan.
7. Boil for 5 to 10 minutes
8. When Basbousa is done pour syrup over it as evenly as possible.
9. Let rest for about 20 minutes before serving.
“Day After Day It’s Getting Easier’ Says Syrian Newcomer To Saint John”
Tuesday, May 24, 2016
18:18 PM CHSJ 94.1FM
A Syrian man who is a member of the first government-sponsored refugee family to arrive in Saint John says while it was difficult at first things are getting easier every day.
1-year-old Mohamad Mousa along with his 24-year-old wife Arij Dalein and two young children came to the city in December of last year. He has been working at the uptown Mediterranean restaurant Taste of Egypt for the past three months and his kids are in French school. Mousa spoke with us through a translator at the restaurant about the YMCA welcome teams, which is a team that helps the refugees during the start of their settlement process.
They take us to the hotel and then they help us with their furniture and to find our apartment to be settled and they show us the city and they help us a lot to start a new life in Saint John,” says Mousa via the translator.
ith above five months in the city now under their belts, Mousa says his children are excited though they do have some challenges with the language. He says they now know where to go in Saint John and they’re familiar with the streets.
We like it so far,” says Mousa.
Premier Brian Gallant came to the restaurant on Tuesday afternoon to cook a meal with Mousa and sat down to a meal.
“Owners get a fabulous surprise message while on vacation in Egypt that Premier Gallant is requesting to cook with Chef Mohamad Mousa at their restaurant.”
May 24th 2016
Media Release: Taste Of Egypt Announces Premier Gallant at our restaurant: Premier Gallant will be cooking a Syrian dish with the first government sponsored refugee to Saint John
Saint John, NB – Taste Of Egypt announced that they will be hosting Premier Gallant in their restaurant. Owners were thrilled to hear that our Premier will be cooking with one of our chefs. He will be trying some traditional Mediterranean cuisine that is eaten in Syria. After they finish cooking, Premier Gallant and Chef Mousa will have a sit down meal and talk about the settlement services. Premier Gallant is wondering how Chef Mousa has found our settlement services since he arrived. They will be accompanied by a translator and Jill Rodgers who is in charge of the settlement services at the YMCA.
Owners Ehab and Paula Radwan saw great opportunities for their restaurant when the Syrian refugees started to settle in Saint John. They were thrilled to give employment to Mohamad Mousa within a few months of his arrival.
“We were so happy to be able to hire Mohamad within a few months of his arrival to the province. We understand how important it was for him to work and learn English. It was great that we were able to hire someone with limited English ability. Although it has created some challenges like not being able to read orders, we have pushed through. Mohamad is speaking more and more English each week. It is a great feeling to see him adapt so well,” exclaimed Paula Radwan
Since owners Ehab and Paula Radwan hired two chefs Mohamad Mousa and Muhhanad Alkhatib, they added a third addition, Mohammed Shihan
“I am thrilled to have these three chefs working in my kitchen with me. The restaurant has gotten very busy and having extra help has allowed me to relax a bit. I am currently taking my first vacation back home in 6 ½ years. It was great seeing my family and friends after so long. My parents were thrilled,” said Chef Ehab Radwan.
Owners Ehab and Paula Radwan hope that Premier Gallant enjoys the hospitality that will be provided to him by their wonderful staff at Taste Of Egypt.
“We are saddened that we will not be there to welcome Premier Gallant. We hope that he enjoys the menu that has been put together for him. He will be trying the rack of lamb which is a popular dish for us. Lamb is a favourite in the Middle East. He wanted to try a traditional Syrian dish and this is exactly what they would eat. There are many Syrian restaurants here in Egypt and they are most always serving kebabs. It has been refreshing to see a lot of the Syrian Refugees here in Egypt start up new businesses here. I would expect that once they pass the language barrier, that many will strive to open businesses in New Brunswick as well,” said Paula Radwan.
Premier Gallant will be visiting Taste Of Egypt on Tuesday, May.24th at 3:00pm just one day prior to the owners return back to Canada.
Taste Of Egypt
Phone: (506) 657-0003
“Syrian Refugees get ready to join city’s workforce”
Greater Saint John
Friday, july 15, 2016
Saint John-The food he’s cooking may not be diffrent than it was in Syria, but Mohamad Mousa Says he sees more oppurtunities to move up in the world now that he is on Canadian soil.
Mousa is one of the chefs at Taste Of Egypt, and also happens to be the first goverment-sponsered Syrian refugee to arrive in New Brunswick.
Speaking through a translator Mousa said he is just happy to be working in his feild. One day, he would like to open his own restaurant.
Mousa is one of the 10 goverment-sponsered refugees who found stedy employment in the community since settling in Saint John.
Shilo Boucher, President and CEA or the YMCA of Greater Saint John, said all of 426 Syrians the YMCA has helped resettle, 190 oh whom are adults, are now attending language classes to get them ready for the workforce, while their children are enrolled in school or in child care
Several Syrians are also enrolled in the varitey of employment training programs the Y offet through it’s new comer connections, she said.
An example of one porgram is the tailor and seamstress course, in partnership with cirus Garment, Which comes with a full-time job opportunity at the end of two-week training program. 20 Syrians are currently en-rolled in the program.
The Y has also created a mechanism to understand the background of each refugee so they can help find them employment, Boucher said.
“So we know how many farmers we have, how many labourers we have, just because, they also want to get jobs, and we have employers coming to us, and we want to make sure we can match up thoose skill sets”
“Because thats what’s going to keep them here. Although thier focus is on English and getting a job, our focus is on retraining them.”
“It’s important for Saint John, it’s important for our divercity and our development to keep our new immigrants with us.”
Right now, the focus for the YMCA is making sure the syrians can get the language skills they need to thrive in the workplace, Boucher said.
“It’s very important, because employers find it challenging if they can’t communicate with thier employees or if they don’t know the specific words that you need to understand,” She said.
Because of the Syrian refugees they hired, Paula and Ehab Radwan were able to take their first vacation since opening the Taste Og Egypt four years ago.
The Restaurant has hired three Syrian Chefs since the beginning of the year, who cook the restaurants singature dishes. This has taken some of the pressure off Ehab Radwan, Who had previously been the Restaurant’s sole chef.
“But now we’re so busy, that if we didn’t have all the extra set of hands in the kitchen all the time, we wouldn’t know what to do,” Paula said.
Radwan said she and Ehab porbably would not have been able to hire the Syrian chefs if Ehab and other staff members didn’t also speak Arabic.
“Somebody still has to be here and translate all the time.” she said.
“Although they’re staring to understand some things in English, like when they’re being read the orders to them, they can’t actually read orders that are going in to the kitchen. That’s probably been the biggest challenge, but it’s coming along,”
The YMCA were expecting to receive 500 Syrian refugees by the end of the year, but haven’t been asked by the federal government to take in any more at this point, Boucher said.
“We haven’t heard when the next wave is coming, They seem to have put a bit of a pause on it right now while the agencies work through settling the folks that just recently arrived,” She said.
The YMCA did not request for a halt, but staff have been appreciative of the extra time to work with the families one-on-one, she said.
“It’s quite an effort to settle that many people, and get them on the right paths in terms of where they want to go now that they’re here,” She said.
“So it has taken the team a tremendous effort and it still does”
“There’s still things that we need to work through with them. They’re still missing their families; there’s still a huge change for them.”
“Saint John Restaurant offering customers a taste of charity”
Telegraph Journal: Greater Saint John
Friday, October.21st 2016
Saint John- A Saint John restaurateur is holding a fundraiser to assist four families in Egypt with such basic necessities as food and medical care.
Taste Of Egypt co-owner Paula Radwan said in a press release the restaurant will hold an auction on Saturday from 6-PM. Along with a 50/50 draw.
Taste Of Egypt will also donate $10 from each main dish from 4 to 10 p.m. on Saturday, Radwan said in a press release.
Radwan said she and her husband, Ehab Radwan, have always tried to assist their local community in Saint John. This time she decided to give back to her husband’s home city, Alexandria, Egypt.
“This is going to be the a life -changing event for these four families,” She said in her press release.” Ehab and I just got back from Egypt a few months back and we could not believe the increase in cost of living. Families are struggling there. It makes you want to help everyone. unfortunately, I had to limit it so that they would feel a difference. I can’t wait to see the looks on their faces when i show up for a few days, dropping off items.
“…All to often, charities have large amounts of administration costs to deal with. This mission is going to allow for each dollar to go directly to the families. I was already planning to go to Egypt, so I will be paying for all of my own expenses. This mission is making me really excited to go there. ”
This is the first time that Paula Radwan will be in Egypt without her husband, who will stay to manage the restaurant.
“I am so proud of Paula for taking so much time to plan out this auction and a few other fundraisers to help some of my community back home. I know she has wanted to do a lot more charitable work than we have been able to do and now that the restaurant is busy and well organised, she is able to leave.” Ehab said.
Deryl Fitzgerald has volunteered to be the auctioneer for the evening.
‘Tough times like these bring out the best in people.’
New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal
Friday, Dec.27, 2013
Byline: Ryan Melanson
Saint John- As thousands in the Greater Saint John area continue to spend their holidays without power and their homes getting colder by the day, a number of local businesses have made efforts to help.
Ehab Radwan, who owns the Taste Of Egypt restaurant on King Street, said he didn’t , know if his wife Paula was serious when she suggested sacrificing one of the couple’s two days off in the entire year to offer a free dinner to affected people.
“She just mentioned it, almost as a joke, casually, but then I said ‘OK, let’s do it,’ said the Islamic chef, who played Christmas music in his restaurant for the first time while people ate.
With no working employees and the help of a few relatives, the couple served a traditional Christmas dinner, with stuffing and veggies, for 38 people on the evening of Dec.25.
Paula Radwan said a three-person family from Grand Bay-Westfield particularly stood out, though all of those invited in were extremely grateful, making for a night filled with fun and holiday spirit.
She brought the family into the kitchen to thank her husband personally, as he cooked and washed up in the back by himself.
“She was crying and she wanted to give him a hug. It was pretty touching,” she said.
She realized many of those from the surrounding communities who ate, which included firefighters and Irving Oil workers, had the means at home to have a wonderful Christmas, and she was just trying to recreate what the power outages had taken away.
“These are people who’ve made donations, filled up the food banks, and now they’ve got no power, no heat, no water and no means to cook.”
Ehab Radwan recalled two men from Nerepis who also approached the door looking to purchase food, and were then offered a free holiday meal.
“They’re eyes bugged out of their head a bit, he joked.
His wife also pointed out the smaller, generous acts of community members who, largely using social media, have offered to open their doors, cook meals or help out those in need with whatever means they can.
A number of hotels have been offering discounted rates for those without lights, including the Travelodge on Fairville Boulevard, who served their own free holiday meal, with all the fixings, to about 50 guests on Tuesday.
It’s the time of the year to give, you’ve got people in need, they want to be somewhere warm, they need to be fed, so we fed them, ” said executive housekeeper Lynn Reynolds. They’re continuing to serve powerless guests hot food free of charge for the coming days.
At the Howard Johnson, Phil Fournier at the front desk said many from the Valley and Grand Bay-Westfield took advantage of $60 per night rooms to stay warm. Kitchen staff came in on a volunteer basis to serve a hot breakfast on Christmas morning.
“We’re filled up. Everyone’s been in good spirits, though, and pretty grateful for a place to go,” he said.
“I know we were, “said Alison Smith of Quispamsis, who checked in on Christmas Eve with her husband and two young children. They found ways to have Christmas and the Santa Claus experience away from home.
“My husband was wrapping gifts in the bathroom,” she whispered, with the kids nearby.
Even outside the city on Kingston Peninsula, where Amanda Oulette doesn’t have power herself, she opened up the restaurant she manages, Reed’s Point Pub and Grill.
“I don’t like seeing people in the cold, so we opened the doors so they can get something to eat and get washed up,” she said. A full dining room was being fed, while others were using the bathrooms to wash and outlets to charge their phones.
“I’m going to try to stay open as long as we can,” she said.
What’s For Supper [Q+A]
New Brunswick’s Urban Alternative Weekly
Jan 10-16, 2013
Volume 14, Issue 02
By: Hilary Paige Smith
Age: 33, Saint John
What’s the best thing you ever made?
My husband loves chocolate and also avocados, so last year on his birthday I baked him an avocado chocolate cake with avocado icing. It was rich and delicious. I’m going to do it again this year!
What would be the last meal if you were on death row?
New Brunswick lobster, white wine, gourmet chocolate and coffee.
What’s your favourite local spot to eat and favourite meal there?
I’m Lebanese so I’ve really been enjoying the Middle Eastern cuisine of Taste of Egypt on King Street. I like everything I’ve tried there, particularly the chicken shawarma, Prince of Egypt hot drink topped with coconut and nuts, the corruption kiwi and pistachio shake and the apple herb shisha.
What’s your least favourite herb or spice to cook with?
I’d say garlic, although I think it’s considered a vegetable, so probably cilantro. Really packs a fresh punch.
What’s your least favourite food?
I’ve tried liver as a child and have never had the urge to try it again.
Do you have a favourite food culture?
That’s a hard one to answer as I love so many. Right now Thai reigns supreme – spicy, sweet and salty.
What’s for supper tonight?
It’s too cold out today to go grocery shopping so I’m going to create something with what I’ve got on hand. Shrimp sautéed in butter, garlic and a pinch of crushed spicy red peppers, with a béchamel sauce made from scratch, tossed with pasta.
‘Taste of Egypt’ restaurant expands service to recognize Ramadan
New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal
Wed Aug 15 2012
Byline: Paul Clarke
SAINT JOHN – A Saint John restaurant has expanded its operation into the wee hours of the morning to recognize Ramadan, the most sacred month of the Islamic calendar.
On a regular day, the Taste of Egypt would have been open at noon to take advantage of the lunchtime rush. But since July 20, Paula and Ehab Radwan, owners of the King Street restaurant, have changed their hours to accommodate the holy month.
“At first we thought we would keep our regular hours,” said, Ehab, sitting at a table with his wife.
“But because of Ramadan we decided to change our hours from 4 p.m. to 2:30 a.m.”
To mark the religious occasion a single lantern hangs in the front window as the poetic rhythm of the spoken Qur’an plays quietly overhead. At about 4 p.m. every day the Radwans prepare for Iftar, the daily meal that marks the setting of the sun and the end of fasting during theholy month of Ramadan.
“During Ramadan we don’t eat or drink anything from sunrise to sunset,” Ehad said.
“Here in Canada, that’s about 17 or 18 hours. Back home it’s closer to about 14 hours.”
Ramadan is a time for Muslims to focus on physical and spiritual purification and typically includes increased offerings of salat prayers and recitation of the Qur’an. The religious occasion occurs during the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and lasts between 29 to 30 days, depending on the visual sightings of the crescent moon.
“It’s a time for you to become more focused on the teachings of Islam,” Paula said.
“Some people that don’t pray five times a day as they should tend to get into a better routine of prayer at this time.”
Followers of Islam believe that fasting during the month of Ramadan helps Muslims learn patience, modesty and spirituality.
During Ramadan two main meals are served: Suhoor, which is served before dawn, and Iftar, which is served after sunset.
In the Middle East, Iftar usually consists of dates, lentil soup, a main dish, salad and baklava for dessert.
“To break our fast we eat dates,” Ehab said. “The Prophet Muhammad use to break his fast with dates, so we try to follow his example.”
At the Taste of Egypt, more than a dozen people stream through the doors to break their fast. Ehab serves spicy lentil soup with chopped carrots, followed by a main dish of rice with shredded shawarma (chicken), lettuce and tomatoes. To keep with tradition, patrons finish the meal with a small piece of baklava.
“The first thing you eat must be something that is warm, because you are fasting the whole day,” Ehab said.
“If you shock your stomach with something cold it’s not good, you might feel stomach pain,” he said, adding that the main dish changes every day.
Prior to sunrise, Muslims eat another meal called Suhoor to prepare for the daily fast.
In Canada, the short nights can make it difficult to eat both Iftar and Suhoor, Edhab said.
“You can eat Shuoor at any time. Some people eat at 12 a.m. before they go to sleep, but the main thing is that before you go to sleep you eat something because you are going to wake up fasting.”
Each meal ends and begins at different times over the month of Ramadan to reflect the changing time of the sun’s rise and set.
This year Ramadan will continue for 30 days ending Aug. 18 with the culmination of Eid ul-Fitr, which marks the end of Ramadan and the end of fasting.
In Egypt and throughout the Muslim world, restaurants remain closed during the day and reopen once the sun has set.
“There are usually lots of lanterns and lights in the streets of Egypt, especially closer to Eid when they are celebrating,” Paula said.
The elderly, sick and mentally ill are exempt from the fasting, as are pregnant, menstruating and nursing women.
© 2012 Telegraph-Journal (New Brunswick)
The cure for late night munchies
Calm your cravings with shawarma, pizza, poutine and more
New Brunswick’s Urban Alternative Weekly
Aug 18-22, 2012
Volume 18, Issue 33
By: Hilary Paige Smith
Does anyone ever put themselves in the hot dog person’s shoes?
There they are, sitting behind the cart, as hoards of bar-goers stagger toward them like it’s the zombie apocalypse. Moncton, Fredericton, Saint John. No matter where you go, there’s someone selling hotdogs to the drunk and hungry. Hot dogs are tasty and convenient, but they aren’t your only option. Neither are the snaking Subway lines.
Here are some different spots for post-party munchies.
Taste of Egypt is the most exotic place for late night eats uptown. They serve up shawarma wraps and sisha in flavours like mango and lemon. Plus, they’re open until 3 a.m. on weekends. Taste of Egypt, 87 King St., 657-0003.
If you’re after Italian, Greek or classic Canadian poutine, hike up King Street and down Charlotte to Julius Pizza. If you’re not ordering pizza you’re in for a longer wait. They stay open until 3:30 a.m. Julius Pizza, 169 Charlotte St., 634-0988.
Whatever you’re craving, we’ve got you covered.