| What is "Eclectic Mediterranean Cuisine"?
At Zatar, co-owners/chefs Kelly and Waiel Majid are often asked, “What country does this food come from?” Actually, Zatar’s cuisine does not claim to be authentic to any one country, but is rather defined by a “style”. Zatar’s cuisine emphasizes, above all, the use of fresh, organic, seasonal ingredients of the highest quality available. Before the days of shipped and polished produce, food was prepared with what was locally and seasonally available. In California we are blessed with a Mediterranean climate and an abundance and great variety of fresh produce year-round. Of course, Eclectic Mediterranean cuisine also features typical ingredients such as olives, olive oil, fresh herbs, lamb, fresh seafood, sheep’s and goat’s milk cheeses, fresh poultry and loads of fresh seasonal produce.
It is common to find variations of and names for very similar dishes in different Mediterranean countries. People have been traveling the sea for thousands of years, exploring, conquering, and trading (including their food and recipes!). Today’s borders separating people are modern, but the fresh simplicity of Mediterranean cooking has a long tradition spanning many centuries and civilizations.
Chef, Waiel Majid, was born in the land of one of the oldest civilizations: Babylon, or modern-day Iraq. A resident Californian now, Waiel has left family behind in Lebanon, Morocco, Syria and Iraq. This obviously explains Zatar’s emphasis on Eastern Mediterranean and North African dishes. Having lived and traveled the region and often returning to visit family and friends, Kelly and Waiel Majid also find inspiration in Spanish, Southern French and Italian cooking. While some dishes at Zatar are inspired by the authentic, others are entirely their own creation. Eclectic Mediterranean Cuisine knows no borders; yet the style remains consistent with it’s emphasis on freshness, high-quality, organic ingredients, and meticulous, by-hand preparation.