As a wave of heat embraced England, The Jewelled Kitchen cookbook launch kicked off on the evening of Saturday July 6th at the Battersea Arts Center in London.
After weeks spent preparing and cooking for the event (remember the days I spent making these babies? and these babies… ), which included flying my two siblings in from Lebanon to help (slave) and be a part of the event, I’m relieved to say the book launch was a feeding success! I know because I managed to sell out of books and because there have been so many lovely reviews of the food catered that evening on blogs and for some like Hannah or Ceri, The Jewelled Kitchen banquet was a highlight of the weekend. That’s BIG, considering the other wonderful traders that were there all weekend showcasing their food. Well done us (cc: Eli, Adla, Joslin, Sarka, Chris, Pavel, Bashar, Tunzala, Jason, Heidi)!
Feeding 150+ people intricate Middle Eastern delicacies such as the beautiful venison kebabs below is no mean feat, especially when you are blursed with a Middle Eastern gene that tends to ignore all scientific reasoning for serving standards always convincing you that there just isn’t enough food! So you make more… just. in. case!
In hindsight, my idea to cater the dishes I chose for that amount of people was a little ridonculous! I’ll admit it. But we pulled through and I owe my deep gratitude to my friends and family for all their help and never-ending support but also for everyone who did such a great job of eating it all (I’m glad we made that little bit more, eh!).
What helped make the event more special was the support of so many generous producers including the incredible folks at Moroccan Bazaar who showered me with beautiful stuff to put in the Jewelled Kitchen tent and serveware to use. Everything they provided me with was key to the ambiance of the whole event and I can’t thank them enough for making it so memorable for me. The folks over at Lidgates (butchers to Queen no less) were also incredibly generous with their support and so we all got to savour meat worthy of a queen.
My wonderful friend Nidal Rayess from Rayess farms in Chtaura Lebanon sent over 18kg of top quality kishk from Lebanon which were packed by my handsome brother Eli for the FBC goodies bags along with a JK recipe insert. I’m really keen to see if you’ve tried it and what you think of it, so do let me know. Also a special thanks to the Chobani folks for sharing a good chunk of their yogurt stash with me. As we all know the cost of high quality olive oil is nothing short of gold and thankfully the flavours of many of the dishes were saved with the help of Olive Branch and Seggiano. Of course, it wouldn’t have been a party without some delicious wines and there’s no one better than Wines of Lebanon.
When I was writing the book, I tried very hard not to allow my mind to drift into dreamy territory because I wanted to stay focused on the job at hand but also because I did not want to set myself up for disappointment by dreaming up scenarios like “The Jewelled Kitchen, best seller on Amazon!”… You know that sort of thing. I decided to give it my all (even falling off the face of the earth at one point) and kept telling myself that so long as I was happy with it then I suppose I could deal with whatever will come, be it sheer repulsiveness from my peers or sheer repulsiveness from my peers.
Thankfully, my peers and blogging friends have been raving about it on their blogs and what’s more they’ve been cooking from the cookbook well and beyond that one recipe. This means the world to me, it really does and much more than the sales, though I won’t lie, I do check where the book sits on Amazon every day! Really, though, the success for me is measured by how many times people cook from it and it seems there’s a lot of cooking going on!
Aside from getting some lovely support from my friend David Lebovitz who urged everyone at FBC to run and buy my book (thank you David!! X), JK was also mentioned in The Times alongside Middle Eastern food authority Anissa Helou and the phenomenon that is Ottolenghi, who also recommends JK! What’s more exciting (and all of Tiverton heard me screech) was when my old landlord Whatsapped me (that’s how we roll) to congratulate me on the mention in The Times but also for being selected as cookbook of the week in The Telegraph. SAY WHAT?!
A massive massive thanks to my talented friend Bashar Alaeddin for creating the below trailer for the JK launch. I found out about his filming skills on the day of the book launched and well in true B style, roped him into filming it. Thanks to you Bash, I’ll always have this to keep the memory of a wonderful time alive!
And so I’m proud. I’m thrilled. I’m flabbergasted with the response. My kitchen currently feels very jewelled. x