As the year draws to a close and we reach the holiday period, I’ve been pondering what a busy and productive 12 months it’s been!!
The year of 2019 saw the launch of this new website and I am extremely grateful to the many thousands of people who have taken the time to follow me on my various social media platforms: stevedabliz.com, my Facebook pages, Instagram and Snapchat.
The past few months have also seen a couple of new initiatives spring to life which have become the talk of the Muslim community – initiatives which I feel very privileged to play a small role in – namely HOPE AND CARE and THE CULINARY SCHOOL.
Hope And Care was founded by Mona Salem and is an amazing organisation which helps disabled people in their everyday lives.
If you have not already done so, please take the time to read Mona’s own remarkable story and also the success story that is Hope And Care, in two earlier articles on this website.
This inspirational woman has overcome the tragic passing of not just one, but two beautiful young daughters, to become the driving force of this wonderful company which is doing such a great job assisting the disabled.
The Culinary School in Punchbowl is the brainchild of well known and popular restauranteur and humanitarian Bashar Krayem.
The Culinary School was only officially launched last month but has been going ‘gangbusters’, with all classes being quickly filled by budding chefs eager to learn the School’s many wonderful ‘secrets of the kitchen’.
“The Culinary School focuses on teaching the foods of the past the way they were first taught and I truly believe that only when we truly understand their origins can we innovate tradition,” says Bashar.
“It’s out of my deep respect for culinary history and the generations that pioneered them that we strive to maintain a cultural tie, keeping the link alive for our youth and those after them.
“The aim of The Culinary School is to inspire a culinary revolution – a journey that transcends borders and generations to reignite a passion for the culinary arts.”
(We will have a special report on The Culinary School on this website in the New Year.)
Bashar is leaving no stone unturned to make The Culinary School complex a totally state of the art facility, even catering for those with disabilities but who love to spend time in the kitchen.
While The Culinary School is officially closed until the end of next month for renovations and extensions, Bashar very kindly opened the kitchen last Wednesday afternoon especially to host a wide-eyed group of Mona Salem’s Hope And Care clients.
I was privileged to be a guest chef on the day and it was absolutely heart-warming to see the smiles on so many excited faces as ‘Bash’ (as he is known to his many friends and customers) and his fellow chefs showed the class some of the finer points of cooking.
Definitely the highlight of the day for me was seeing the bond between two of the cooking ‘students’, 23 year old Michael and Kay, who is 29.
When Michael (who has an Intellectual disability) arrived for class, he was saddened to learn that Kay, who suffers from the debilitating illness Muscular Dystrophy, was unable to cook her for herself as the modified workbench she requires wasn’t quite ready.
Determined to cheer up his new friend, Michael dedicated the meal he cooked himself to Kay.
An amazing act of kindness, but it didn’t end there!!
Michael was awarded the special prize of a The Culinary School apron for his thoughtfulness towards Kay, but in a second act of remarkable generosity, he also gifted the apron to Kay.
There was hardly a dry eye in the house after that, I can tell you…..it gave me goosebumps!!
It’s hard to put into words how watching the interaction between Michael and Kay and the rest of the class throughout the two hour session made me feel.
I certainly felt privileged, I felt grateful, I felt humbled and I felt honoured because even though these young adults may suffer from health problems which would stop less resilient people in their tracks, they are full of happiness and optimism and are a joy to be around.