I was born along Sudan’s Blue Nile and began my food journey in my mom’s kitchen. I shadowed her in the markets and while she cooked her signature stews, dips, and falafel. I spent many Ramadan holidays helping her prepare the Iftar meal and becoming the chef I am today.
At 18, I left Sudan during the war. Life took me to Syria, Egypt, Thailand, Denmark, and finally to the United States. Each country influenced my culinary career. I sharpened my Middle Eastern cooking skills in Syria; learned the restaurant industry in Egypt and Denmark; and founded and opened Abu Layla (Arabic for Father of Layla) in Thailand. Now here I am in the U.S., where everything is coming together.
My wife, who I met in Bangkok, also comes from a rich food culture—Louisiana Creole. We joke that the fastest way to her heart was through a pot of okra. During the holidays, I have a friendly kitchen “rivalry” with my father-in-law, a talented and sophisticated cook.
When I’m not working, you’ll find me cycling, gardening, and spending time with loved ones (mostly feeding them). In 2022, I expanded Abu Layla by adding Kush food truck, bringing my unique perspective on Sudanese and Middle Eastern cuisines to DMV foodies.