We meet Bassem at the café de la Fontaine in Verlinghem, his wife Reem by his side and their little daughter Mira on her lap. The tongues are quickly loosened talking about cooking and the good mood is part of it.
“It all started in my mother’s kitchen.” As far back as his memory goes, Bassem always liked cooking. Originally from Damascus, it is with his mother that the youngest of the family developed a passion for cooking. He explains that for them, it is very important that everyone gets their hands dirty: from the age of 16, he divided his time between his mother’s kitchen and the family sewing workshop. Later, his wife, daughter and friends enjoyed eating his delicious preparations. The cuisine has an important place in the life of Bassem, but as he reminded us during our discussions “cooking is a passion and not my job”. Indeed, in Syria, Bassem worked in a newspaper administration and marketing branch before leaving his country with his wife and daughter.
Once he arrived in France, it was natural that Bassem immersed himself in French cookbooks and showed his family a multitude of new dishes typical of their new “home”, with veal blanquette, ratatouille, pot-au-feu … With his wife, they have fun comparing some dishes that he believes have similarities like ratatouille and tabakh roho from Syria.
For Bassem, cooking is to please everyone : for example, he has thought of incorporating a vegetarian dish into his Refugee Food Festival menu. But also to associate with his Syrian specialties, including kebbehs, small touches of French cuisine. He quickly explains how he does it without revealing his secrets and especially the spices he uses. He even tells us ha has “trained for the festival”.
Bassem has just started his own catering service. He has repeatedly shown his cooking skills during charity dinners and during the two editions of the Refugee Food Festival in which he participated. After a great collaboration with the famous Chef Simon at l’Avant Goût de la Cuisine Commune, Bassem decided to realize his dream and to create “Ataya Traiteur“, the caterer where “everything is done with love”. He is now letting people discover his delicious Syrian cuisine in Lille and in its region!
This is a nice project for a family that has already adopted its new homeland: “we are from Lille, we have even passed the test of Maroilles”!