Chef Fidaa Abuhamdiya
Cherishing and Preserving Our Indigenous Food Heritage and Culture
I was born in 1982 in Hebron, where I grew up and went to school. Because I have loved delicious food ever since I can remember, I decided to become a professional cook. After finishing high school, I attended the Notre Dame of Jerusalem cooking school and then followed my passion for expanding my knowledge about food and traveled to Italy to study at the University of Padua, where I obtained a BA in the science and culture of food and a master’s degree in nutrition and food education. Having deepened my knowledge of food, I began to use it as a communication tool to speak about Palestine. I wanted people to know Palestine and Palestinians through food. My project started with my friends and my Italian family.
In Padua, I had the opportunity to work in Le Calandre, a 3-star Michelin restaurant. The job was wonderful despite the difficulties and hard work. Later on, I worked in various places in Italy until 2012, when I decided to return to Palestine. It wasn’t easy to start a new life and to find a job, but I continued to write for an Italian web newspaper. In 2016, I published a cookbook of Palestinian food entitled Pop Palestine Cuisine with my friend Silvia Chiarantini. Outlining a food journey that started in Hebron and finished in Jenin, this cookbook describes how to prepare the delicious dishes we enjoyed in homes and restaurants as well as from street vendors. Each chapter is dedicated to one of the cities we visited along the way.
Today, I teach a variety of subjects to future chefs at Hebron’s Smart College for Modern Education, including Introduction to the World of Food (an anthropology of food).
I hope to see a generation that cares about food culture, is proud of its roots, and preserves the knowledge of Indigenous food – before we lose these recipes because the dishes have moved into new cultures and lost their connection to this land.