Reem Assil (center) preparing her red pepper with staff at Dyafa. | Jim Sullivan

Ep. 4, Loghmeh: Whole Animal Roasts & Middle-Eastern Culinary Traditions

At a pop-up dinner in Los Angeles, a skilled chef and butcher introduces a communal experience of whole-animal roasts influenced by her Iranian heritage. Across town, another chef grills fragrant kobee, a traditional Syrian croquette made of spices, ground beef, bulgar and pine nuts. The aroma of smoke coming from these grills is intoxicating, and the scent can trigger all kinds of memories of home and family. For these two women of Middle-Eastern descent, food is a way to link back to their cultures while gifting a piece of their traditions to their communities.

In this episode, we meet Debbie Michail who’s worked alongside some of the best chefs out there, from Mozza’s Nancy Silverton to Angelini Osteria’s Gino Angelini. Her work is influenced by her Iranian grandmother’s cooking and her own experience cooking gourmet Italian. At her Logmeh LA events, she and fellow butcher Alex Jermasek invite guests to experience large-format roasts over a fire, something she believes brings people together. In Farsi, “Loghmeh” means to “savor in one bite,” and Michail sees Middle-Eastern cuisine as a kind of “soul food,” where we honor animals with nose-to-tail cooking and aren’t afraid to eat with our hands.

We’re also introduced to Wafa Ghreir, whose Kobee Factory restaurant in Van Nuys serves as an outlet to showcase her pride in her Syrian culture and food. She’s seen the Syrian community grow in size since immigrating to the United States in 1977 and wants to spread the love that is embedded in Syrian cooking through the universal language of food. As the devastating civil war in her native country rages on, Ghreir sees her dishes as a way to preserve her heritage for her grandchildren and the community. To have the chance to enjoy meals prepared by these two women is to gain an understanding of their legacies.

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