Someone You Should Know: Sanaa’s Love of Cooking
SIOUX FALLS, S.D.- When a Sioux Falls woman with a love of cooking decided to open her own restaurant, some of her friends thought she was crazy. Years later, her career in the kitchen is still going strong. Not only is she finding success in feeding folks at her restaurant, but she’s also feeding people in need.
Fifteen years ago, Sanaa Abourezk opened the Middle Eastern restaurant, unsure of how folks would react to her food.
“When I first opened in Sioux Falls everybody thought I’m out of my mind. Not only I didn’t have experience in a restaurant, but also they said ‘you know, nobody’s going to eat your egg plant, nobody’s going to eat your cumin, coriander, pomegranate, molasses, this is all weird food,’” said Abourezk.
At first people were hesitant.
“You know, this is South Dakota. Black pepper is too spicy for them. So I started little by little, by little,” said Abourezk.
She’s changed their minds along the way.
“The process of seeing people changing their taste buds, their preference to food, their willingness now to eat healthier, to be exposed to different cuisine, for me it’s been just a wonderful trip,”said Abourezk.
Abourezk is also known for tailoring recipes to people’s dietary needs.
“Vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, that’s really my niche, that’s what kept us surviving all these years,” said Abourezk.
Through the power of food, she’s also fighting child hunger, raising money for organizations like Feeding South Dakota and Hungry Hearts.
“You know, no matter what, political, any issue, we should not let our children go hungry. I mean this should not be an issue in the United States of America,” said Abourezk.
Through this journey, she’s gained more than just customers.
“Basically, I have an extended family now. Not only do I enjoy my work, but I have a family who I feel they love me and I love them back,” said Abourezk.
Some of Abourezk’s other accomplishments include writing four cookbooks and being a speaker about healthy eating at a Ted Talk in Brookings.