Rawia Bishara and Ousila Rafai: Serving Up a Labor of Love

Rawia Bishara and Ousila Rafai - Photo by Lily Chin, lilychin.info

Rawia Bishara and Ousila Rafai – Photo by Lily Chin, lilychin.info

“A food business needs love and care,” says Rawia Bishara, chef and co-owner of Tanoreen, a popular Middle Eastern restaurant in Brooklyn. “I don’t think anything is harder than this if you’re doing it like you’re supposed to —  with love.”

Bishara, 59, would know, she opened her restaurant in 1998, and her cooking continues to draw praise from food critics. Earlier this year she published a cookbook collecting Palestinian recipes from her childhood in Nazareth.

After studying accounting and working in bars and cafes in New York City, Ousila Rafai launched Brick Bar Savory and Sweet earlier this year at Hester Street Fair. Raised in France and Algeria, Rafai, 26, makes and sells Algerian pastries with both sweet and savory fillings.

“When I cook and I see that someone is really happy when they finish eating [my food], I’m happy and I don’t need to eat. I’m filled with that,” Rafai tells Bishara.

Listen to Part 5 in this series Maria Cano and Auria Abraham: Creating a Legacy for the Next Generation

See what happens when you bring together women food entrepreneurs from different generations and different ethnic backgrounds to talk about food, business, and flavor.

Audio production by Ayinde Jean-Baptiste and Matt Zapp. Photos by Lily Chin.

Fi2W is supported by the David and Katherine Moore Family Foundation, the Ralph E. Odgen Foundation, and the Nicholas B. Ottaway Foundation.

AboutAnne Noyes Saini
Anne Noyes Saini, Food Editor, produces WNYC's The Sporkful food podcast and is co-creator of the MOTHER podcast. She covers food culture, immigration, women, and the elderly in New York City — especially in Queens, where she lives. She has contributed to NPR The Salt, The New York Times, The Christian Science Monitor, Narratively, Serious Eats, VICE, Feet in 2 Worlds, Real Cheap Eats and City Limits magazine.