A look behind the scenes with Hanazi
Muhannad ‘Hanazi’ Nakaway (27) worked as a cook in Syria. One day he bought a waffle iron and figured out how it worked. He opened a waffle place in Damascus, which immediately turned into a big success. ‘Waffles were new in Syria and everybody loved them. Sometimes people were queueing up outside,’ he tells us. The Syrian capital was a good place to live back then. ‘The weather was usually very nice and Damascus has a gorgeous historical centre. We used to live in a well known street with over forty restaurants. Muslims and Christians lived together, there was a rich social life. But now there is almost no future in Syria, so we had to leave.’
Eventually, Hanazi ended up in the Netherlands, along with part of his family. He wants to continue his hospitality career, he will work in the kitchen of Syr. ‘Us Syrians are used to working hard, and we are willing to do that. It doesn’t only provides us income, but also confidence. I would like to continue working in the Netherlands, and working at Syr will help me learn Dutch more quickly.
The Syrian cuisine can be compared to that of the Turkish and Middle-Eastern one, ‘but much more delicious,’ according to Hanazi. The menu of Syr will consist of, among other dishes, veal with goat cheese, the spinach dish Sabaneg, and Mahruosa, a large dish meant to be shared, with potatoes, onions, garlic.
‘Food is important in the Syrian culture’ tells Hanazi. ‘When you visit someone, you don’t have to agree on having dinner together, it speaks for itself.’