Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A Culinary Conquest...

Growing up as a Pescatore has helped me realize what is really important in life -- sharing food and enjoying and appreciating every flavor. Each family member, whether it be my mother, grandmother, brother or uncle, has instilled in me a certain culinary craft that I will take with me forever. From my grandmother's gravy (or tomato sauce for those on the "outside"!) to my brother's ridiculous appetite - which I have adopted, to our traditional 7-fish Italian Christmas Eve dinner (my favorite meal of the year), these memories are implanted in my mind and keep me hungry for more.

I feel inclined to introduce you to one of the most special people in my life that has had an amazing influence on my culinary vision. My uncle, Sabri Ghoneim, epitomizes someone whose main focus and love in life is food. His culinary conquest is an extraordinarily unique story and each time I think about his passion through it all, it drives me to seek out such experiences for myself.

An Egypt native, Uncle Sabri had a lust for life; he was hungry for traveling and exploring the world. When he was 22, he left his country and went to Greece where he worked construction. Only staying for a short time, he returned back to Egypt to his family. Two years later, at age 24, he went out to sea working on a Greek cruise ship as a chef. He traveled all over Europe exploring the different nations -- their culture and cuisine. A free spirit, out at sea, he took in all he could while resting in each country. After some time, he landed in Italy where he gained much experience working in restaurants as a chef.

Uncle Sabri in Florence, Italy

It was there, in Firenze, where he met my Aunt Gloria which eventually brought him to the United States. They settled in Monmouth County, NJ where Uncle Sabri opened a pizzeria. Throughout my childhood and still to this day I watch him make pizzas for his customers, while always having a delicious healthy side project cooking up in the back. Some days it is fresh caught striped bass from the Jersey Shore which he has acquired through a barter system -- pizza for fish. I feel lucky and privileged to be his niece.

Uncle Sabri has a love for food that is absolutely remarkable. Watching him enjoy a meal, is an experience in itself. He appreciates each and every ingredient so much, and I think we could all learn something from this... I know I sure have. Good food is his main concern in life, and he truly believes that it should be this way for everyone.

Uncle Sabri and me in his NJ pizzeria

I hope you enjoyed this story. It motivates me to follow my dreams because anything is possible. Just as Uncle Sabri appreciates the art of food, I too feel the same way.


PS. Coming soon! Uncle Sabri will be opening a Trattoria in NYC's West Village. More information to come!


  1. Which Pizza place in MC? :) I'll check it out. And inspiration from those you care about and admire is the best! Thanks for sharing!

  2. Oakhurst Pizza on Rt. 35 in Oakhurst (ha! obviously) -- it's on Ocean Township. It's delish! Thanks for your note. xo!

  3. Your Uncle Sabri's pizzeria was my childhood hangout in the 80s. Lots of slices and a terrific No. 1 (always with hot peppers). My brother, friends and I used to stack our bikes outside and run in for lunch after street hockey games and water gun fights. Good times!