Chef spotlight: Bader Jaber from Wally's Falafel & Hummus
Just three weeks ago, Dinkytown became home to Wally's Falafel & Hummus, an authentic Middle Eastern restaurant catering to the the University of Minnesota student population with its reasonable prices (several items for less than $5) and late-night hours. It's owned by Wally Sakallah (who also owns the nearby Wally's Corner Market) and located next door to Kafe 421 at 413 14th Ave SE. Bader Jaber, the restaurant's manager and chef, talked to Hot Dish about his cooking, the restaurant, and what brought him to Minnesota.
Jaber is a native of Palestine, but recently moved to the Twin Cities to follow a friend who lives in the area. He is a culinary student at MCTC, but is taking the current semester off to get the restaurant started. The schedule at Wally's doesn't allow time for much else, as Jaber works from open (11am) to close (12am Sunday-Thursday, and 3am on Fridays & Saturdays). He hopes to hire an assistant manager in the spring so he is able to return to school.
Jaber's favorite item on the menu is the chicken shawarma, an entree that takes over 12 hours to marinate and combines garlic, olive oil, and Jaber's "special mix" of Middle Eastern spices. The menu is heavily influenced by Jaber's mother and grandmother, who introduced him to cooking. Though he has taken formal cooking classes in both Palestine and the United States, the chef's favorite dishes, such as the chicken shawarma, come straight from his childhood. Other menu items include vegetarian falafel, an assortment of appetizers, and other marinated meat entrees and sandwiches.
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