You may already know our wonderful Community Manager and Chef Extraordinaire Grace Lichaa. She is a recent Chopped Champion, a manager at the Capital Area Food Bank, a D.C. Farmer’s Market all-star and one of our favorite chefs.
We sat down with Grace to learn more about her cooking, inspirations and recipes.
How did you start cooking with Feastly?
I love to cook. I used to cook in restaurants and I cook a lot for my friends. I thought it would be really interesting to be cooking for strangers.
What do you do in your everyday life?
I work at the Capital Area Food Bank. I run our kids program. We provide food for children when schools are out.
You were recently on an episode of Chopped. What was that experience like?
Amazing. They did a non-profit episode. It aired for the first time on Election Day and they will be broadcasting it a couple times. It was amazing to be able to cook for chefs who are so talented. Also, the chefs who I was competing against were all non profit chefs who work at different food banks across the county. I felt honored to be there. I’m trying to parlay the viewing into a fundraiser for the food bank I work at.
How did you begin cooking? Was food a part of your family life growing up or did you learn to cook on your own?
Both my parents are from Egypt and my Mom is an amazing cook. When I became a vegetarian, the stuff my mom was cooking for me was not great. She would literally put raw tofu and green beans together. So, I kind of just started cooking for myself. About a year ago, I started eating meat again and it’s been really interesting to cook for people who eat meat in a way that really highlights the vegetables.
What is your absolute favorite thing to cook?
Oh gosh, that’s a really hard question! I think it depends what time of the year it is. I really like to cook what’s seasonal. My favorite thing ever is strawberry shortcake or baklava. With baklava, I learned the basics from my mom but I changed it to incorporate different farmer’s market ingredients, like lavender or different citrus flavors. I like to make classics more local and modern.
Can you share a recipe with us?
Curry Chic Pea Soup
This quick vegan soup is delicious and a complete meal when served over a bowl of rice.
Total Time: 20 minutes
1 yellow onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 28- oz can of garbanzo beans
1 28 oz can of diced tomatoes ( I like the Muir Glen fire roasted tomatoes)
6 cups of vegetable stock or water
1 bunch of spinach (about ¾ of a pound), washed and roughly chopped
1 Tablespoon of olive oil
2 Tablespoon of good curry powder
2 teaspoons of coriander
1 Tablespoon of salt
½ bunch of cilantro, washed
2 limes cut into wedges
In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, curry powder, coriander, and salt
and sauté for 2-3 minutes. Add ¼ cup of vegetable stock and continue to cook the onions and garlic
until the onion is translucent, about 5 more minutes. Add the canned tomatoes (with liquid), garbanzo
beans, and vegetable stock. Cook until heated and the flavors have combined, stirring on occasion,
about 10minutes. Use the immersion blender to puree the soup*. Turn off the heat and add the
spinach and chopped cilantro. The heat should cook the spinach. Serve with a squeeze of lime over rice.
For a slightly chunky soup remove half the soup into another bowl and puree. Then put back
into the pot.