Cooking Up a Storm with Ara Zada

September 17, 2020

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Born and raised in Los Angeles Ara spent most of his younger years skateboarding and snowboarding though he always had his heart in the kitchen. He attended culinary school at Le Cordon Bleu and built a career as an Executive Chef specializing in recipe development and food styling. He has worked with Jaime Oliver Food Revolution, Food Network, ABC, CBS, NBC, Breville, Gelson’s and a range of others. He has had multiple TV appearances most recently on No Passport Required with Marcus Samuelson. His first cookbook Lavash was released October 29th 2019 with coauthors Kate Leahy and John Lee. He is a bow hunter, triathlete and fills any available time he has training parkour.

John Shegerian: This edition of the Impact Podcast is brought to you by the Marketing Masters. The Marketing Masters is a boutique marketing agency offering website development and digital marketing services to small and medium businesses across America. For more information on how they can help you grow your business online, please visit

John: Welcome to another edition of the Impact Podcast, I am John Shegerian and I am so excited to have Chef Author, Ara Zada on with us today. Welcome to Impact, Ara.

Ara Zada: Hey, hey John. Thank you so much for having me. I am super pumped to be here.

John: This is a very special edition of the Impact Podcast because this is the first time you and I were chatting off the air a little bit. This is the first time, I have ever had a chef on Impact and better yet an Armenian Chef, so this is a total honor and for all our friends in the diaspora and back home and highest on put in highest on, so happy to have you today, Ara.

Ara: Yes. I had thought of, thank you. Thank you so much. I like being first, my kind it is always fun. It is always a good thing. It is [crosstalk] a private, right.

John: It is always. It is a great thing and before we get talking about this unbelievably wonderful book called Lavash, that is sitting on my desk and I have worked through the last four or five nights and gotten hungry. Every time I have gone through the book, it is always a chat full of wonderful history on all the Armenian foods in Armenia itself, but every picture makes me hungry. It is such a well done book in terms of photography.

Ara: Thank you.

John: It is delicious. This book is delicious that I recommended it for everybody, but I really want to go into the book and before we do that, let us talk about Ara Zada, your journey. Growing up, where you grew up, how you decided, food was going to be your art, food was going to be your craft, share that part of the journey first with our listeners in America and around the world.

Ara: Awesome. Okay. So I was born and raised in Los Angeles. I came from immigrant parents. My mom is Egyptian-Armenian and my dad was 11, his Armenian but he was born in Israel or Palestine depending on which hour of the day that was. Son is Armenian and I was born out here. I grew up skateboarding, snowboarding, surfing. I am just like a typical LA kid and I always kind of gravitated towards the kitchen. Honestly, one of the main reasons why is I just wanted to kind of play with the knives. I thought I was Peter Pan. I wanted to flip the knives around. My mom would only let me in the kitchen and playing with knives if I was doing something, so I started kind of chopping up salad. She had hand me a knife and then she taught me how to do it and my salads turned from a regular garden salad to really tiny small Persian salad because I just kept chopping everything smaller and smaller.

John: Wow.

Ara: That was kind of my intro into the kitchen and oddly enough, I mean, not oddly enough, I fell into the family business like everybody else does which is printing. I was a printer on more or less after high school, and I found myself going home and just hating the family business. I hated going to work being with the family coming home talking about what work. It was just everything was about work, and I decided that– I realized actually that I would come home and I cook. I cook to kind of just get away from it all. So I realized I need to start cooking professionally. So I went to culinary school. Again, my families vary– they just did not want me to go. So then there was. I went to culinary school, there like, there is no career in cooking. You know what I mean? There is no work in there. They had not stuff in business and they just like, they did not want to see me start from nothing and in a business that typically it is a grind, it is difficult. The cooking world is hard. I parted my ways, I had very– a lot of confidence in myself. I went to culinary school and did really well. Out of school, I started taking jobs everywhere, doing a lot of things, excelling what I did. I always kind of had a knack for developing recipes and that is kind of something that would do. I would come home, create recipes, write them down, standardize them. I fell into a lot of TV stuff, like kind of one obviously being in LA, I wanted to get behind the camera. Actually, so I wanted in front of the camera, but I got behind it and started doing a lot of food styling. Food styling is kind of– we are kind of the Unknown Soldier back there. You are making all the food look pretty and so people can eat it on camera. You are just kind of cooking, making everything look fantastic. It is what you would see on photo shoots or on TV. We do things like, you weed through like five heads of lettuce to find six perfect leaves, so that on TV everything looks great. I did that for a while and eventually got some on camera stuff. Also, mix it in with some recipe development jobs here and there and then I landed a job doing for this company developing recipes for some pretty big grocery store chains around here and some Vegas hotels. So that was kind of my nine-to-five mixed in with TV stuff. I kind of cross my way through the culinary world, you know, diving into a lot of different aspects. I have done the restaurant thing. I have done the food styling thing. I have done the front of the camera thing and I always would write as well. I kind of started doing a few things for a few websites and I started writing for a hunting website because I am an archer. I do archery hunting and I am all about food from start to finish. So I would go and I would, I had hunt animals. I butcher the animals, I bring them home. I turn it and I had go from peel to plate. So I started doing that and kind of fell on this Armenia journey somewhere deep down the line and that is kind of where the book came about it. It is kind of a weird story. I went to Armenia very recently. I do not know you want to dive into that right now.

John: Yes, I do. You are a humble guy. First of all, as a little back story, we did not even talk about this in the pre-production stuff, but you and I are both sons of printers.

Ara: Well, that is amazing. That is amazing.

John: We both grew up in the printing industry. I did not realize that that was your family business.

Ara: Yes, it was.

John: Then, I just also want to say to our listeners a couple things, you are very humble. You just did not go to cooking school. You went to Le Cordon Bleu. Could you just share? I mean, I am not a chef. I just love to eat and I am so I enjoy the work of great chefs like you, so for our listeners out there, to get some perspective on your classic education. Le Cordon Bleu is the Harvard of culinary school, right?

Ara: Pretty much, yes, yes. It is one of the top culinary schools out there. It is where they treat, they teach you French classic techniques and that is kind of where I aim for a lot of the food world is based off of French classic techniques. Even, the great Italian kitchens are based off French classic techniques, and that is kind of what they teach you. It is a fundamental the basics of cooking through every different avenue. Going to that school, I was fortunate to be able to go. It is not the least expensive school out there.

John: You made the most of it and look at what you are doing all this fascinating stuff. So let us get talking about your book. When did you have that as entrepreneurs call it the aha moment that, I have got to take some of what is between my ears and get it down. When did that happen? How did that happen? Where was the inspiration coming from?

Ara: I mean, in my household, my parents were separated. I grew up a lot with my mom and my grandparents. We were mainly, my mom was born in Egypt. My grandparents were born in Egypt. They are Armenian and everything was– what I thought was Armenian was kind of mixed with Arabic, Egyptian, Lebanese, and I did not know that growing up. Probably around 7-8 years ago, seven years ago, I believe 6 years ago. My mom was like, “Hey, do you want to go to Armenia?” I was like, “Yes, let us go.” I have never been. I have been to Egypt before. So I went to Armenia and I was shocked. I mean, I did not know any of the food. I was kind of very confused. Where are these dishes that I grew up with? Are these Armenian? What are they eating here? I guess very confusing. I mean there was lavash staple out here at Western Armenian, now are eating a lot more lavash than they did when I was growing up a lot of pita bread was going down out here. There was like this void that needed to be filled and I kind of went on a little journey trying to figure out what there was there in Armenia. When I came back, I kind of had this– I mean, I had an idea it would be cool to just kind of deep, deep, deep dive explore into Armenia cuisine and I got reached out by– I reach to by a company called Tumo and I do not know if you are familiar with Tumo. Tumo is pretty much the world’s greatest after-school program for Armenia.

John: I have been there. I have been in there and I have gone for the tour. It is one of the most greatest experiences about going to Armenia and feeling so proud that we are doing something as huge and is successful and as important as Tumo. Could you go ahead and tell the story? I want to hear it.

Ara: I got reached out to and I did not really know what it was. When I was in Armenia, I never visited Tumo, but I had some– people talked to me about it. Then the director, Marie Lou was– I had a conversation with her and she wanted to start– they wanted to start kind of cooking school or they were starting– she had so many different ideas and she had an idea of doing an analog version or they were in the works of doing, essentially an analog version of Tumo. Tumo’s mainly digital, photography, music production, everything that has to do with the digital profile. They wanted to start analog version which would be more craft to hone in on the crafts of Armenian that are kind of getting lost. Like, the people that ma– the woodworkers, the sculptors, the jewelry makers. Nobody growing up really wants to carry that craft, once is going into tech. So they want it to kind of hone in on this and she flew out here to have a meeting with me about possibly doing a workshop for the analog version which is called Tumo’s studios. At that dinner, she had invited a friend of hers who did a photography workshop at Tumo. His name is John Lee and Marie Lou is just a kind of a mastermind of doing things like putting people in the right place at the right time. She knew John had gone out to Armenia and done this workshop, food photography workshop and John is a Taiwanese- American. The first time he would ask to go, there you have to Google what Armenia was. He had no idea. He had a friend that was Armenia. So he went out there fell in love with the country and just he had the idea about writing a cookbook. He is like, nobody knows what this stuff is. So when Marie Lou met with me, she brought John along and kind of, put us in the right place at the right time. She had us talk about this book, John ended up reaching out to me after the fact. In the meantime, while that was happening, I went to Armenia to cook and teach of the first workshop at Tumo’s studios. So I taught 10 kids basically Armenian. It was a supposed to be a twist on Armenian food, a new appetizer version of old classics. So I flew out there and did a 10 day workshop with them and then John had reached out back to me saying, I have this idea of writing a book. He has a friend of his that she is written several cookbooks. Her name is Kate Lahey. Oddly enough, she is Irish-American and she grew up next to Armenians in San Francisco. She did her college thesis paper on the identity of Armenian-American cuisine or something along those lines, oddly enough. So they had the idea together to write a book. They reached out to me because they are Taiwanese-American, Irish-American, there is a missing link somewhere, let us find this guy as Armenian-American chef and maybe he will be the missing link to their book idea. When they reached out to me about it, I was a hundred percent on board. I had already been to Armenia a couple times. I had this idea already in my head and we made this beautiful trifecta. So John, he is a photographer. He is written a couple cookbooks. I am the chef and I am Armenian. It is kind of like a funny start to a joke, Taiwanese-American and Irish-American and Armenian chef walk into a bar. An Armenian folks like.

John: Right.

Ara: So we have this concept and we worked on our deal. We said, we need to get an agent, we got an agent and we worked and kind of shot it out to a bunch of publishers. Our first concept was Armenia the cookbook and we are like, it is going to be 10,000 pages long. Everybody is going to be yelling at us. The Lebanese- Armenian it is going to be that is not dolma. The Russian-Armenians say that is not how dolma is made and this is not this, this is not that. It is like, everywhere we go, I mean, you guys are going to get yelled at, I am going to get yelled at because I am the Armenian. Because everybody has their own way. I said, what is the only way this book is actually going to work and we can go and get it to the– the book was not written text before Armenians. It was written to bring Armenian food and Armenia to the masses, to the general public. To show that there is a country, there is a cuisine. So the only way this is going to work is if we go to Armenia, we go village to village and we just find dishes that they are cooking in Armenia today and they have been cooking there forever. That way we bring it back and nobody says, “That is not in Armenia.” Well, you know what? We went to Oconee and that is what cooking there. We were in Goris and we got this served at some lady’s house and she taught us the recipe. You know what I mean? So there is no question.

John: Right, right.

Ara: You cannot question. So we did it. We got a book deal.

John: Unbelievable.

Ara: By chronicle books, we sent this out to everybody. Every major publisher, they did just give us a hard no, they did not give us the LA no where they just do not answer your calls or anything. Everybody kind of sends us a nice letter saying, we really liked this project. We like the idea maybe now is not the right time. Chronicle took a chance with us, Chronicle out of San Francisco and they gave us a deal. We were more than fortunate to put it all together and pack our bags and head to Armenia. We did this over a few different trips, scouting trips with the help of Tumo and Marie Lou through their connections as well out there. Getting us going from village to village and the one of the best things is when we were explaining this or I was explaining it to Kate, one of the co-authors. She had never been to Armenia. She likes, “What is going to happen. What are we just going to go knock on somebody’s door and they are just going to hand over their recipe?” I said, “You have never been to Armenia. They will not only hand their recipes, they will bring you into the house. They will feed you, make you sleep over, they are the most hospitable people in Armenia. They will have nothing. You walk into a village, you do not even know the village named.” You barely speak– my Armenian is choppy. I can communicate. I am more or less of Armenian.

John: Right.

Ara: I mean, you do not even have to speak Armenian. You can walk into a village and all of a sudden, you will get invited into somebody’s house. They put out a spread, they put out everything that they have for you as a guest. This was a very common thing from one place to another and it is something that nobody ever can actually wrap their brain around. No matter how much we bought on our book tour and told people about that is kind of why we have this idea of doing, kind of like a part two, kind of like a video aspect to really show the world. I mean, there is no way you can explain to somebody. You can literally knock on somebody’s door and they are not going to be like, “Go away from my door, get off my property.” They are going to, “Hi, how are you? Where are you from? What are you doing here in this village? Come on in.” It is just almost immediate.

John: Right, right.

Ara: I mean, we walked around, we went to one of the last recipes we found was Matnakash. Matnakash is a very– it is a leavened bread. It is basically mat is fingers. Akash is a polish, it is fold with fingers and you can see that in the bread. We went into a bakery, up in Gyumri. It was a functioning, full-function bakery and we walked in and we are like, “Hey, your Matnakash is great. Can we have the recipe?” They are like, “Surely, but why do you need the recipe. Just take us back to with you to America and we will make it for you every day at home.” We are like, “We were joking about it.”

John: Right, right.

Ara: They brought us back there and they literally gave us their recipe. The only thing that safe makes, they gave us their trade secrets. [crosstalk]

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John: That is incredible.

Ara: [inaudible] rip. Yes. It was fantastic.

John: Ara, wait for a second here. For our listeners out there who just joined us, we have got Ara Zada with on us, with on Impact today. He is a chef. He is an author. He is the writer of Lavash The Book. You can find it or on, Z-A-D-A or another great book stores or an Ara, keep going, go ahead.

Ara: So this is a good. When we were going to write the book, we went on a couple of adventures out there and we kind of sorted everything out and we had an idea of going on April 24th, the Genocide Commemoration Day.

John: Yes.

Ara: The idea was we go there on April 24th so that we can document the march that happens all the way to the genocide more. We wanted one or two pictures in the book. So we kind of planned our big data gathering tour around this event. We end up landing there at the beginning of the Velvet Revolution. Oddly enough, it just happened to go that way and my co-author, John Lee, he was there a couple of days ahead. He wanted to get there early and he ended up– well, I will say that. We land there, he goes, “Oh, there is Revolution going on.” We are like, “Oh, we do not really know.” It takes 24 hours to get there. We knew things were brewing and when we landed, his like, “I got to tell you guys a story, just wait till you guys get here.” If you ever been to Armenia, you always land in Armenia at like two-thirty in the morning. I do not know why. They do not have flight in the afternoon landing. It is like, early in the morning, I do not know what the deal is. Like, the flight does work. You land there and it is early in the morning and I cannot wait you guys, I got story to tell. We are like, “All right.” We show up to her apartment that he had rent out and he opens the door in his underwear, huge gosh on his legs. His like, “I got blown up.” We are like, “What? What are you talking about?” He ended up. So John is a very awesome photographer. He used to work for the Chicago. Tribute his worked, his been to several different wars, as a war photographer. He is been all over the world shooting and he is never got hurt. He got into like his war mode instincts. While Niko was marching, he got in front of him and was taking pictures and this is the beginning of the revolution. When they went and they captured him and the way they captured Niko as they threw flash grenades out. John with his war like instincts as just there being his war photographer right in front of Niko, and low and behold, tink, tink, tink, between his legs boom, a flash grenade goes off and bust his leg open. These guys been around the world several times and never got hurt. His the only…

John: Goes to Armenia.

Ara: …the casualty in the Velvet Revolution, writing a cookbook.

John: To Armenia. In Armenia.

Ara: In Armenia. One of these countries in the world, disgust on his leg. I mean, he went to the hospital and got stitched up. They took care of him. Everybody oddly enough in the hospital was extremely apologetic to him. Everybody takes Armenia so seriously. In Armenia that it was an insult to them that something like this can happen to a guest in their country, at the hospital. You know what I mean? Like every day.

John: Right, right.

Ara: So we ended up going and we were in get it on for a couple weeks and he had a little bit of struggle with his leg obviously taking pictures. He did all the photography. I did this food styling for it while we were out there with Kate’s help as well. There was some little bit of hindrance while he was trying to– you know, it is messing around with this camera because he was injured but we got through it. We ended up basically saying yet of them for a couple weeks and then we took this massive road trip. We rented a car, me, John, Kate, one of my good friends who ended up moving out there. He came along with us and then we had we hired a translator as well. So my good friend help with the translation for me and then we had a translator to help but Kate and John and we went on this road trip literally all the way around Armenia, down through Oconee to Goris. We went to Artsakh up through Sevan, to Olivetti, De Guille Jan [?] Olivetti around to Gyumri with all the stops on the way. So we circled the entire country stopping everywhere. It was part of a massive journey and we got stopped, so for those that are not familiar with the Velvet Revolution, they would do– the way this all kind of started was through the youth and they would do civil disobedience, but their civilization obedience was roadblocks. So they would just stop traffic. That was there. That was a thing. They said if we just stopped traffic would stop the entire network in Armenia and then they would have to listen. So this was a common thing while the roadblocks became roadblocks for us while trying to write a cookbook. There was someone…

John: How long was the road trip?

Ara: About two weeks the road trip. We would go and we would be coming up on one of the biggest roadblocks that we hit was coming back from Artsakh in through Sevan all of a sudden we pass through this little mining town where it is just this two lane road and the villagers just we are stopping traffic. We stayed there for hours and hours and we talked to them and they were just like they were like, “No, we are not going to let anybody through.” The locals would have people come they drive up the other side of the roadblock, they literally switch cars and go on their way. We were kind of stuck and we basically were just not letting us through and after hours and hours, we kind of found the car. We got back. We kind of gathered our thoughts were like, how are we going to get through this like, we have places to be. We need to we need to continue writing this book. We kind of have appointments with people more or less. So Armenian appointment, so it could be like anytime but then [inaudible].

John: Right. To show up at some point. Right, right.

Ara: Point to be there. Well, I am like, we do not want to sleep this little mining town right now or on the side of this road. We are like, what if we are international journalists and we are here covering the revolution. We are like, this could work. We are like, John, put on all cameras. John put on every single one of his cameras around his neck and you could just imagine him, right. The Taiwanese-American guy, just cameras all over him, he is our photographer. Kate, she is like the perfect journalist. She is got her notepad. She is ready to go. We have the translator. We are pumped and me, I am the driver, unfortunately.

John: Right, right. Well, someone is got to do it, so, we will shoot this.

Ara: No one will going to do it. After about hours of this and I do not know why it did not down on us. We are like, let us do this. We bust out we walk right up to the main guy because there is just one guy he decided I am in charge now. They just start talking to him. We are here covering the story, John is taking pictures. Everywhere, all this stuff and they are like, okay, the after about 10 minutes, we are like, look we need to go cover the next village and see what they are thinking. They are like, absolutely, absolutely going cover and they literally just open the way. So they block it with bars and we bust it through and this became a regular thing for us. So now we know, we saw a roadblock, we jump out of the car. Like, we are ready to go. We stopped dead in front of every roadblock, all four doors, fly open, we run up, we are international journalist. We are trying to figure out what is going on. Also, what kind of crops you guys grow over here? What do you guys eat for dessert?

John: Right, right, right.

Ara: Yes. Then, what kind of dessert you guys having later? Any chance we can get a recipe or to, so it became pretty fun and we just kind of understood the league of the land at that time. It is not like that no. I got the opportunity to after the revolution things have changed a lot. Armenia has come a long way. I got the opportunity after the book was published to go out there and I went around and gave a book to everybody that helped us.

John: It is awesome.

Ara: It is kind of the thing we wanted to do and most people out there will not be able to afford the book. It is just the way the money goes over there. So I went out there and I gave a one book. I handed a book to every single person that gave us recipe or gave us a hand out there and it was a super nice thing that ended up happening and they were super grateful and appreciative.

John: Well, the book is gorgeous for again our listeners out there. It is called I have got it in front of me. The photos are just they make you hungry and they also make you feel like we are there with you on this tour through Armenia, they are just delicious photos. If that is the right adjective to use but can you share with our listeners for someone who wants to buy this book? Whether they are Armenian or not? What can they expect from it? Because I have been through the book I page– I have gone through every page. I am not a chef but I mean, I have looked at all the recipes, the history of food that you have put in here very carefully and then also the photos that go with it. Can you share what our listeners out there who want to buy your book can expect to get from it?

Ara: So the book when we were writing it, we wanted it to be a little bit small history lesson of Armenia. We want it to be photo journalism/recipe book. We wanted it to be able to live on a coffee table to where anybody could pick it up and start browsing through the book and be entertained. It is not something that lives in a kitchen that just has text. We have a little bit of back story of Armenia. We have photos. We have little head notes that tell you where each recipe is from the recipes themselves. Armenia is very green, heavy grain, heavy– there are meats and there is a lot of other things that you might not have ever heard of, that they do make in Armenia. There are a few recipes in there and I kind of got away with a few things that are little more western. One that is near and dear to my heart is chee kofta. I grew up and for those who do not know, chee kofta is like the Armenian version of tartare, meat tartare and it is a phenomenal dish. I am in love with it and it is a very, very Western Armenian thing. It is near and dear to my heart and to the point or there is video of me, when I was five years old and my birthday just walking around calling people, chee kofta. Are you at chee kofta? I love it. That is in the book. If you go to a little village in Armenia, you might not find it, but in Yerevan, there is a lot of more Western Armenian that I have moved in a lot more Syrian-Armenian. So in restaurants in Yerevan you can find chee kofta. Everything there you can find but that is one– that is a little more western than it is Eastern Armenian that is in the book. Out here in LA for those– Armenians in LA, everything is a lot meat heavy. It is a very hard of us your– it is just heavy kind of meat dishes. In Armenia, it is a little bit lighter. Actually, there is every dish or every table has lavash on it. That is another reason why we ended up calling the book lavash. Lavash is the center of every Armenian table. It is on the table every single time, every dish there are dishes that are wrapped in lavash. [inaudible] you lay the lavash on the bottom. There is a dish called Bonifas, which is just lavash cheese and water which turns into Armenian mac and cheese. It is the center of every Armenian table and so we decided to call the book lavash itself, but you can expect at any given table in Armenia, there is a mix of greens so they called it [inaudible], which is just mixed greens. Essentially, you can buy this at any grocery store. It is a bouquet of herbs and I wish they would do this out here. Honestly, it looks like a flower bouquet and it is time purple basil, parsley, cilantro, tarragon sometimes summer savory in there. You basically chop that up and it is on every almost every dish and it is on the table mixed with some fresh cheese that comes from different regions in Armenia. In Armenia, the cheeses are kind of wines in France and Italy there are not named by the cheese, it is name by the region where they made the cheese. So Lori cheese is a very famous one and it is a great cheese. We were actually up in the Lori region and we visited at cheese farmer. He had a cow, obviously a dairy farm and he gave us fresh cheese at eight in the morning with vodka shot is which is normal out there.

John: Right, right, right. Oh, my gosh. Wow.

Ara: Yes. In the book, if you browse to the book, it is just of like ways and the way we set it up is there is feasting, there is around the 20 in which that with the chapters do not have like chapter names. They are not just chapter 1, it is basically around the 20, there is all the baking stuff. There is feasting which is our normal every table is a spread or many cuisine is not like, you get a plate of food. It is everybody shares 30 plates of food. We have to like really capture this and when you make dishes from this book, you do not want to make just one and you want to make four or five of them, kind of all go together. We kind of get suggestions in there as well. Everything is relatively simple in the book that. It is easy to make, there is nothing that is super, super technical in our book. In Armenia cuisine, there is a few dishes that might take a little bit longer. Pastirma, Pastirma in the book and it is pretty easy to make, you just need about 10-15 days.

John: You have basma, you have lakma, German-Armenian pizza. You have Armenian desserts like, baklava, lots of others. There is something for everyone in this book, that is the way I look at it. Am I right, Ara?

Ara: A hundred percent. A hundred percent is something literally for everyone and there is something for everybody skill level as well. There are certain things that look a little bit more intimidating and one thing I can say about this book and I do kind of we pride ourselves in this, we did a lot of research and we did a lot of recipe testing. We brought all of these recipes back and we compared notes between Kate and I, because everything in Armenia is done Utski [?] shop, which means by the eye. So we are in somebody’s house, the lady is like and you just add some of this. Like, oh shit, how much was that? Was that a tablespoon? Was that a cup? Did you see that? All of a sudden, take a video, did you see it? You are like, no, no. Then you would be talking and you blink for a second, you would question like, “Did you add salt?” She is like, “Of course, I added salt. Well, you did not say that. Did you add this? Of course, I added this.” So you have to kind of catch up of what they were doing. We walked all of this back and we tested it in an American kitchen with ingredients that are readily accessible to everybody. We give supplements. In LA we are fortunate enough to have certain ingredients that they would have in Armenia, but in the middle of Wyoming, you might not have a certain spice or a certain dish so we gave alternates. So everybody can cook and what we did was we took every one of these recipes and after we were very confident with them. We sent them out for recipe testers, professional chefs, home cooks, a complete amateur and we had them tested out and right kind of notes on it and send it back to us so we can find out how we did. Because certain things make a lot of sense to me because I am a professional chef, but if you give it to an amateur and they just look at it a different way. So we wanted to write it in ways that everybody could understand and the outcome would be the same. So we are very confident in the outcome of each one of these recipes if you follow it correctly.

John: For our listeners out there that want to change paths in life or just start a new path that they never really thought of before and they want to become the next Ara Zada. Can you share like, what some advice that you have for the next generation coming up who wants to become a chef for as a professional?

Ara: So this is my kind of live by this. There is something inside of me. I realize it is recently that I hate failing more than I like winning. It is driven me to do a lot of things and career changes, new adventures, new hobbies, everything I do I try to do to the fullest because I do not want to fail at it and I just do not like losing. So I will do the research, I get super involved with every aspect of everything that I do and I think it is important that people are scared a lot of the times to try and do something different. There are so many opportunities and so many fun things that if you find something that you truly enjoy, you truly love doing. You are not doing it because you are being forced to. It is a cliche thing, but you find do something you love, you never work a day in your life, but the truth is, you are working hard at what you are doing, but you thoroughly enjoy that. Once you do find those certain things, I feel like it just becomes easy. You just guided in there, you just got to take that small little leap of faith.

John: I agree with you, and thank God you did, and left the printing industry like I did. You went on to become a wonderful and important chef and doing just great, great stuff. For our listeners out there, again to find Ara and just connect with him, you could go to, or two buy his wonderful book, which I just think is delicious and it would make a great gift for mom, dad or anybody that you know, go to Lavash, L-A-V-A-S-H, the Ara Zada, you are just a delightful wonderful inspirational chef, making a great impact and making world a happier and better place. Thank you for being a guest today on the Impact Podcast.

Ara: Thank you so much, and thank you so much for having me. This is awesome.