Conor Sheils meets Bassem Khalifa, one half of the duo behind Ma7sool Productions, a new web series planning to chronicle Egypt's forgotten food treasures, as they travel up and down the country to put a spotlight on our culinary heritage...
Egypt may not be famous for its culinary delights but two up-and-coming filmakers hope to change all of that by putting the country on the foodie map. Today we meet Bassem Khalifa, one half of the of the duo cooking up a storm and hoping to change the world's perception about the diversity of Egypt's grub. The team plan to travel the country with their project , Ma7sool Productions, in an effort to showcase the diversity of Egyptian cuisine.
Khalifa is a bright young university graduate who dreamed up the idea while studying a masters degree at the Yale School of Forestry. "People often say that Egyptian food is all the same but we want to show them that in fact the tastes of different regions around the country," he says. "We want to create a show about Egyptian food by Egyptians for Egyptians." A hint of mischief enters Khalifa's voice as he says: "Most of all, we want to show the world that there is so much more to Egyptian food than meets the eye." So far the pair have sampled the sea food of Port Siad and the delicious Wa7y rice of the Oasis and now they can't wait to try the culinary treats on offer elsewhere. "We are really excited about the project and now we can't wait to show off the rest of what Egypt to offer. We began filming in September and we are hoping to secure enough sponsorship to carry on making the programme a reality."
In a media landscape where everyone wants to be famous and/or the next Bassem Youssef, it's refreshing (and mouthwatering) to see a team of go-getters trying something new, while shedding a spotlight on many forgotten cultures and traditions. And we all know food is inextricably linked to culture in Egypt. "There are so many different dishes on offer and so many different traditional dishes representing the many cultures present here. Unfortunately, here is so much food that people forget about when they think of Egypt," adds Khalifa.
Khalifa is confident but what's on the menu for the future? Well, that's simple - a healthy portion of success. "Right now, we are using an online model but who knows what the future will hold," he says. "We are really excited right now and we may even pitch the idea to the TV networks, that would be amazing. For now we are just using the resources we've got available but who knows how big the idea may become in the future."
Check out the guys' adventures on their Facebook page here.