With Love: Vietnam

Ngoc Huynh is the new entrepreneur in residence at With Love. She’s brought her family recipes from Vietnam to Central New York.

When Ngoc Huynh would prepare the food of her native Vietnam it was always done from memory. “I never cooked with recipes. Everything was by word of mouth. It was a sprinkle of this and a little of that. I recently realized how important measuring really is!”

Huynh is sharing her native food as the new entrepreneur in residence at “With Love,” Onondaga Community College’s teaching restaurant located at 435 North Salina Street in Syracuse. “With Love: Vietnam” opened for business in late January.

Her journey to running a restaurant in Central New York was a lengthy one. Huynh was born in Tra Vinh, Vietnam. Her father and uncles served alongside Americans during the Vietnam War. When the war ended she and her family escaped by boat. They ran out of food and water at sea but were rescued by the Japanese. After living in Japan for a few years they were granted asylum and moved to the United States.

Despite being half a world away from Vietnam her native food was always with her thanks to her mother and grandmother’s cooking. Taking over at With Love gave Huynh the opportunity to document the recipes which she had in her head. “It was hard to preserve their old recipes. I’ve enjoyed writing everything down and having the opportunity to teach people and teach my siblings.”

Huynh constructed a menu which she says is representative of the best of what her families region of origin has to offer. “There’s a dish called Bun Mam. It’s a seafood noodle dish and it’s very authentic to my mother’s hometown which is one of the 13 provinces in the Mekong Delta. The Noodle Soup is a blend of Vietnamese and Cambodia cuisine. We have a lot of mixed communities and it shows in our food.” You can view the entire menu here.

With Love: Vietnam is open Tuesday through Friday from 12pm to 2pm and from 5pm to 8pm. The restaurant was recently featured in a story on WSYR TV, Newschannel 9. You can view the story here.

With Love, Palestine

Nujoud Makhlouf is the new entrepreneur-in-residence at “With Love, Palestine.” The restaurant opens with its new cuisine Wednesday, July 18.

Food has always been at the center of Nujoud Makhlouf’s life. She remembers when she was 3 years old and her great grandmother gave her the opportunity to work in the kitchen. “She said to me, ‘you’re a smart girl. I know you know how to peel the garlic.’ She let me peel it, then gave me a mortar and pestil. She let me smash it. She was glowing. ‘Look! She knows how to smash garlic!’ That was my moment. My great grandmother told me I was good and that carried me through.”

Makhlouf also remembers being obsessed with her mother’s baking pantry. She enjoyed staying in there and spinning the lazy susan. “I loved the smell of spices and sitting amongst the different ingredients, taking out my Mom’s mixer and helping make all of our foods. I always had an obsession with food.”

She will have an opportunity to share her obsession with food as the new entrepreneur-in-residence at “With Love, Palestine,” Onondaga Community College’s teaching restaurant located on Syracuse’s North Side at 435 North Salina Street. The restaurant’s cuisine changes with the entrepreneur-in-residence. Previous cuisines have included Pakistan, Burma and Savannah, GA. With Love, Palestine will open Wednesday, July 18.

Makhlouf’s parents are Palestinian refugees. She was born and raised in Central New York. Throughout her formative years food was always the constant. She had four younger sisters and enjoyed cooking for them. She loved cooking with her father and learning new dishes from him. She also cooked regularly for friends from school. “Our door was always open and we were always cooking. The whole concept of ‘families that eat together stay together’ was inevitable with us. We were always eating together.”

After graduating from Liverpool High School in 1993 Makhlouf attended Syracuse University. She earned her degree and became a teacher. Eight years later she put her teaching career on hold when her twins were born. Two more children would follow. Makhlouf stayed home to raise them and continue to cook. “I knew I wanted to cook Arabic food for my children and my husband. I wanted to give them those flavors.”

Within the past year she gave substitute teaching a try but continued to have an overwhelming passion for cooking. At her church she enjoyed teaching and organizing cooking classes and events. “One of the last cooking parties I threw, I got a lot of positive feedback from people who had recently come here from Syria. They said, ‘I haven’t had anything like this since the old country! How do you make it? Can you teach me the recipe?’ It was a major affirmation.”

When Makhlouf heard “With Love” was looking for its next entrepreneur-in-residence she decided to pursue it, aced the interview and was selected. “I’m approaching this like a six-month internship. I don’t know why this door has opened for me but this is my opportunity and I’m taking it.

The With Love, Palestine menu will include Makhlouf’s chicken dish, flipped rice dish and vegetable dish. Customers will also be treated to za’atar. It’s similar to an artisan flatbread and the recipe includes wild thyme, toasted sesame seeds, ground sumac, sea salt and extra virgin olive oil. Makhlouf already sells  za’atar at local farmer’s markets. Her other products include pink hummus infused with beet juice and handcrafted yogurt cheese which you can either put on top of something or use as a dip. She sells under the brand name, “Small Mountain Za’atar.”

The July 18 opening of “With Love: Palestine” will also signal the beginning of expanded hours. The restaurant will be open for lunch (12-2 p.m.) and dinner (5-8 p.m.) Tuesday through Friday.

Who Will Be The Next Entrepreneur in Residence?

Onondaga Community College’s teaching restaurant is looking for its next Entrepreneur in Residence!

With Love’s current Entrepreneur in Residence is Venus Likulumbi. She started at the restaurant as a student by learning the fundamentals and best practices of being a line cook. Now she’s the headliner, serving patrons her beloved renditions of collards, black eyed peas and a fried chicken. Likulumbi is already catering large parties and keeping the dining room full and happy.

The next Entrepreneur in Residence will need to commit at least 25 hours per week from July 1 to December 20, bring a national or regional cuisine he or she knows exceedingly well, be comfortable working with a diverse team and clientele and have the ability to make compromises while holding true to their vision. In return the Entrepreneur in Residence will receive a stipend, wraparound business support from the Small Business Development Center and CenterState CEO along with an enthusiastic fan base. With Love is also always accepting new students on the ‘Line Cook” track.

If you are interested in any of these opportunities visit www.withloverestaurant.com for more information. With Love restaurant is located at 435 North Salina Street in Syracuse.