I was very young, maybe 10 or 11, and would help my mother with her pickling and jamming projects in the summer, and I loved it. My mother very early on realized my passion for food and was happy to encourage it. By the time I was 14 or 15 I was full-on cooking. My mother would allow me to cook for special parties and events. She was hosting all the time and needed extra help, so she would allow me to make a dish or two. She would always say, “Nasim made this,” and was very encouraging.
When I came to this country the first money I had I used to buy a cheap pot and pan, and I would cook on this single burner in my tiny room. Even right now, even though I have a restaurant, some nights I go home and make myself a simple meal. I eat very simply and very clean, but I always cook. I always have bread, pickles, yogurt, cucumber, avocado, and rice at home. I can make it so quickly; either I’ll fry an egg with yogurt and saffron, make a big salad, or yogurt with cucumber. I get home around nine o’clock at night, so I don’t make something elaborate — just something simple and delicious.
Today I’m not in the restaurant as intensely as I was for four years, but I enjoy cooking in my home. When I am in the restaurant I cook different steps of a meal. I have a team, we interact, and food goes to the service area. At home I cook from the beginning to the end. I do it all by myself. It’s a meditation ritual. I get my vegetables, and it’s a manageable half a pound. I prepare them and plate them all myself, and it’s very satisfying. Cooking at the restaurant is also very satisfying, but at this point, I’m spoiled — I need both.