Meet and Eat: Dana Abu-Dayyeh, Serious Eats Intern


Name: Dana Abu-Dayyeh
Location: New York, NY
Occupation: Hostess at Hearth Restaurant

Guilty pleasures? Fried food! Especially chicken and okra.

Describe your perfect meal. This is a really difficult question to answer because my idea of a perfect meal constantly changes depending on factors including my mood, the weather, or the season. If I am feeling sentimental, I want something my mom used to cook like a roast, mashed potatoes, and broccoli. But the other day it was super hot and muggy outside so all I wanted was a cool plate of ceviche.

However, a perfect meal to me is always well balanced and proportioned and how I proceed eating it is very intentional wherein I plan my final bite. And God help anyone who eats that bite!

What food won't you eat? Anything with a strange texture such as cottage cheese. I also don't like anything with tahini in it, which makes me the worst Arab ever. And I detest blue cheese even though I really do want to like it.

Favorite food person? Anthony Bourdain is my idol. He gets to travel the world eating amazing food and he is just downright hilarious.

When did you first realize you were a serious eater? According to my parents, I have been a serious eater from the moment I was born. But I particularly remember this time when the manager of a buffet came and told us that they would need to re-think their "kids eat free" policy because I was eating so much.

What do your family and friends think of your food obsessions? My family is largely responsible for my passion for food so when I told them I wanted pursue a career within this awesome industry, they were just wondering how it took me so long to figure out this is what I wanted to do.

Favorite food sites or blogs? I have gotten some awesome recipes from The Kitchn and I love checking out Eater to see what's new in NYC's restaurant life.

Everyone has a go-to person they call for restaurant recommendations. Who's yours? I work at Hearth Restaurant so I always ask Chef Marco or Chef George what they recommend.

What is your favorite meal of the day and where do you get it? I definitely like dinner the most. Most of the time, I eat dinner at the restaurant I work in now but I also love to go out to eat or cook with friends.

Do you ever cook? What's the best dish you make? I absolutely love to cook, especially for company. In college, my roommates and I used to have family dinners at our house all the time and my friends always wanted me to make my chicken, which I roast in the oven with olive oil, garlic, and spices we typically use in Arab cooking, such as allspice and coriander.