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Family. Food. Fellowship

These are the words Providence Culinary Training (PCT) graduate Shereen Gomaa lives by and what guides the work of the non-profit she founded, Delicious by Shereen. The three-year-old endeavor continues to gain popularity, catering traditional Middle Eastern meals and offering cooking classes at local churches.

“We cook like we’re cooking for our own families,” Shereen said.

Shereen grew up in Egypt, surrounded by a large extended family where big meals were a way of life.

Middle Eastern culture is very different than what we are used to in the United States. Several generations of a family often live in the same home or building, and young adults do not move out until marriage. Because of this, Shereen watched her mother and aunt cook for years. Surprisingly, perhaps, she did not become a culinary whiz at that time. But her marriage in 2002 brought a lot of changes.

Shereen and her new husband moved to the States; while he completed his Ph.D., Shereen cared for their twins and started experimenting in the kitchen. She said her husband was always encouraging, even when she didn’t know what she was doing.

Years later, here in the Triad, Shereen looked for a way she could help the influx of Syrian refugees coming to their mosque. Because Egyptians and Syrians share a language and similar culture, Shereen knew that food was the way to connect and help women who wanted to support their families. Delicious by Shereen was born. However, Shereen knew she needed to get some professional training to accomplish her goals.

“In Egypt, we don’t measure; you just measure with your eye. It’s always delicious, but I needed to learn how to do things the right way.”

Shereen enrolled in the 13-week PCT course and learned about food safety, nutrition, and was able to fine-tune her self-taught kitchen skills. She appreciated that she got more than just an education at PCT.

“Chef Jeff (Bacon) was always smiling, always encouraging … telling us we can do what we dreamed of,” Shereen said. “He treated us as if we were his own kids, or his brothers or sisters. He made the learning fun, sharing his experiences, and was very encouraging.”

She also said that Chef Vanessa Lanier (a PCT graduate who is now Providence’s Executive Chef), Chef Janis Karathanas (another graduate who is Providence’s Director of Culinary Education), and other teachers mentored her well.

Now, Shereen oversees the thriving catering business, providing a way for refugee women to make money and give back to the community. It also creates cross-cultural understanding. One way is through the cooking classes.

“Everyone loves to eat, especially if it’s good food and provides a different experience,” she said. “Food is a way to build bridges between people from different places, cultures, and faiths. It breaks down barriers and fears and opens doors to conversation.”

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Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest NC

3655 Reed St. 

Winston-Salem, NC 27107

Tel: 336-784-5770

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