Chef Val’s cooking has long been inspired and influenced by different ethnic cuisines. She credits her passion for cooking and exploring different and exotic flavors to her Lebanese mother. “My Mom was as passionate about food as I am and was always trying something new! While the other children in the neighborhood were sitting down to meatloaf or mac & cheese, Mom would be dishing out boeuf bourguignon, coq au vin or kibbe and tabouli. In those days, hardly anyone ventured past tried and true American classic dishes. I think I was the only kid in the class with a falafal sandwich, instead of peanut butter and jelly in her lunch box!”
Having previously been in business as a portrait artist, jewelry designer and dance instructor, it is only natural that her artistic flair is also evident in her cooking and plating. “We eat with our eyes first. I’m always excited when presented with a beautifully plated and garnished dish......I want my clients to experience that pleasure, too.”
Chef Val's catering style echos her at-home entertaining style. "I just love to entertain, and the more extravagant the menu, the better! My guests are not likely to be served pigs in a blanket and cheese cubes. ( 'cuz even with the fancy toothpick.......it's still...just a cheese cube) I love to prepare a lavish meal and serve it to my friends and family on a beautifully set table.....any excuse to whip out the charger plates works for me! I'm constantly researching, testing and creating new recipe ideas and flavor combinations. I read cookbooks like novels!" She is currently writing her first cookbook. It focuses on innovative and 'stress-free' entertaining ideas. In this book, Chef Val shares many of her most frequently requested dishes, as well as tips and time saving tricks garnererd over her 10 years as a personal chef and caterer.
A fitness buff, Chef Val is enthusiastic about helping people learn to make healthier food choices and that one does not need to feel deprived while doing so. She has taught healthy cooking to hundreds of people and presented healthy cooking demonstrations and seminars throughout CT. Being an advocate of healthy cooking, she recommends the '80/20' rule. "If you make 80 percent of your food intake healthier choices, you can go ahead and enjoy that decadent treat once in a while without guilt. That way you never feel deprived."
Chef Val has presented healthy cooking demos and seminars and taught cooking classes at:
Wild Oats Market in Westport, CT
The Center for Naturopathic Medicine, LLC in Stratford, CT
New England Framing & Art Gallery in Milford, CT
The Unitarian Universalist Church in Stratford, CT
Milford Contining Education Program in Milford, CT