I have the best news to share with y’all! My Egyptian Festive table made it all the way to The New York Times! 

Disclaimer:Chez Nermine blog is an Amazon Associate. We earn a small commission from qualifying purchases. Our commission doesn’t affect the price of the product you purchase.

The Arab Christian Table 

On December 14th 2022, Reem Kassis, the talented Palestinian-American writer published her insightful article “The Arab Christmas Table” in the food section of the The New York Times.

Reem Kassis is the author of the celebrated cookbooks:  Palestinian Table and The Arabesque Table. Against the dominant stereotype and narrative, Kassis diligently defends Palestinian and Arabic identity, and documents endangered Palestinian heritage dishes. 

Food article by Reem Kassis in the New York Times
Article by Reem Kassis in the New York Times

In her wonderful article, Kassis shed the light on the food traditions of the Christian Arab Diaspora, focusing on two iconic dishes: Dawali (rolled grape leaves) and Kibbeh Saniyeh (A pie made of two crusty layers of bulgur and ground meat mixture encasing a juicy filling of spiced ground meat laced with caramelized onions).

Prior to writing her article, Reem interviewed a number of Christian Arab diaspora about their Christmas food rituals. Based on this interviews, Kassis compiled a number of personal accounts about food traditions and mine was included. 

How did you make that happen?

How were you featured in The New York Times? I wish I would make one dollar each time someone asks me this question 😀. 

On the surface, being featured in the press could seem accidental!

Yet, the reality is that it takes arduous, daily consistent work over a significant period of time, to hone one’s skills in his field, build credibility, accumulate credentials and only then one may draw the attention of the media as a reward for his devotion to his area of expertise.

Ten Thousand Hours of Practice

It is commonly believed that it takes 10000 hours of practice to become an expert in any given field. 

Sure enough, in my case, the day I was featured in The New York Times exactly commemorated ten years (equivalent to 10000 hours) of food blogging and recipe developing. 

It was exactly the winter of 2012, in Paris, the City of Lights (where I was living back then as a trailing spouse), when I decided to start a food blog. The timing and destination context explains the choice of a French name “Chez Nermine” for my food blog. 

Start Before You Are Ready 

Hoping to document my nomad family’s food memoirs scattered in five continents, I signed up ten years ago for WordPress and created “Chez Nermine”, a food blog, with zero food writing and food photography skills, driven by passion only. 

For the first year the out-of-focus food photography and flat write ups made it so that my food blog was only visited by my husband, my mother, and a couple of my friends.  

Stats of my food blog "Chez Nermine"
Stats of my food blog “Chez Nermine”

My recipes were reliable and relatable but that didn’t increase the traffic on my blog as the digital esthetics were a missing factor to pump up the blog’s traffic. So, I set my food blog on private mode and embarked on gobbling up all the skills I need to hone my food writing and food photography. 

Gastro Diplomacy 

In 2013, I moved back to the US with my family.  It was a challenging time for me as an Egyptian immigrant and a mother who was willing to integrate her kids in their new habitat.

In fact, our transfer to the nation’s capital coincided with the rise of ISIS and their bloody attacks.  The narrative about Arabs wasn’t in our favor. No matter how hard I tried to build ties and establish new friendships, all my efforts were to no avail.

Facing isolation and unfair stereotypes, I found myself surrendering to my kitchen, cooking, and writing about my mediterranean and Arab heritage recipes and sharing them with the world on my blog.

Being a former diplomat I had huge trust in the soft power of food, as it is capable of challenging stereotypes and correcting the distorted narrative about the Egyptian and Arabic identity. 

The One Phone Call That Changed Everything  

For several years, I used food writing to advocate for women, refugees, and human writings.  My food posts hit home and were finding their ways to more hearts and minds located in all the four corners of the globe.

The numbers of visitors of Chez Nermine, my food blog, seemed to steadily increase and my food stories were mostly about mediterranean recipes, until I received one call that changed everything. 

During the first pandemic lockdown in April 2020, my dad called me from Cairo to wish me a happy Easter. Paradoxically, he was in high spirit despite his chemo therapy. During his call, he was so expressive about how proud he was of my Instagram page and my food content. 

Yet, he paused in the middle of his praises and reproachingly asked me: “why aren’t you focused on Egyptian cuisine, instead of generic Mediterranean cuisine?!

Egyptian food is your heritage, which the world knows little about.” He serioisuly added “If no one is representing the Egyptian Cuisine on the world food map, so it should be you!”

We ended the call as it was late at night. The following two days I heard nothing from him, however, on April 14th, my sister sent me a  one-line text message: “Father passed away 30 minutes ago”.  

Due to the suspended flights and lockdown, I couldn’t fly to attend the funeral. Seeking an outlet for my grief, I surrendered again to my kitchen cooking all the Egyptian dishes that he was fond of and sharing them on my social media.

Surprisingly, the audience’s response to my Egyptian food stories laced with grief was overwhelming, to say the least.

Droves of Egyptian and Arab Diaspora followed my blog and Instagram account, urging me to write in-depth about Egyptian Cuisine. “We are losing our matriarches, the keepers of our Egyptian Cuisine, to Covid and aging. They are leaving us empty handed, with no recipes record. We need to document the recipes we grew up with before it is too late.”, they expressed in their messages. 

Laser Focus on Egyptian Cuisine 

The messages and words of my Diaspora audience were too powerful as together with my father’s last words to me they completed the picture. The pieces came together and the path was made crystal clear.

Since 2020, I laser focused on Egyptian Cuisine, testing recipes, researching their stories, documenting and sharing them on my blog. 

“The riches in the niches.”, they say! My devotion to my Egyptian heritage have led to wonderful professional collaborations with high end restaurants, distinguished magazines and platforms over the last few years, through which I came to know top talent chefs and food writers. 

Throughout my food journey, my biggest win has been the belonging to a vibrant creative community that became my extended family from which I derive strength, wisdom, and inspiration. 


Being featured in The New York Times is a significant milestone for me not only as a staunch advocate of Egyptian cuisine, yet as an Egyptian immigrant to the US. 

It was impossible to get where I am today without the support of my immediate family who was always there for me, cheering and taste testing my on-repeat recipes with little complaints.

Thanks a million to my life coaches: Avra Lyraki, Rosette Obedosa and Julia Washburn who helped me find my voice and shape my persona amid an avalanche of social media noise.

Last and not least, my undying gratitude to the unique voice Reem Kassis who included my food story in her wonderful article about the Christmas Arab Table. 

Join My Foodie Tribe 

Chez Nermine blog  is your source of authentic, wholesome, and no-fail Egyptian recipes. To receive our weekly recipe, Subscribe here to my blog Chez Nermine.

For fun tutorial food videos, follow IG @cheznermine & Facebook page: Chez Nermine Page


  • All product recommendations are independent and based on testing.
  • This blog is an Amazon Associate. Some links contain affiliates. When you buy through one of our links we will receive a small commission, at no cost to you.

Disclaimer:Chez Nermine blog is an Amazon Associate. We earn a small commission from qualifying purchases. Our commission doesn’t affect the  price of the product you purchase.

Recipe for Excelling 



  • 10 000 hours of practice 
  • Unwavering passion 
  • 5-10 supportive friends and family members 
  • 1 crystal goal in mind 


  1. Journal every day about yourself until you figure out your real passion 
  2. Hone your skills by grasping all the tools you need to be the best you can 
  3. Surround yourself with people who lift you up 
  4. Have a vision board with all your milestones glued to it 
  5. Avoid comparison, stop being competitive and start being creative 
  6. Be grateful for everything you have
  7. Celebrate your smallest accomplishments 
  8. Do something you fear every single day
  9. Aim for the best as we get from life what we ask for

Nermine’s Notes: 

  • Give yourself grace

Posted by

Former diplomat | Travel & Food Writer | Stauch advocate of Culinary Diplomacy. Find more here: https://cheznermine.com/about/

Leave a Reply