Saturday Farmers’ Market Vendor Feature: Tayybeh
Entering their third year at our market this week we are featuring, Tayybeh! Tayybeh is a social enterprise that supports Syrian women chefs in Vancouver by offering award-winning home-style food through catering, regular community pop-up dinners and packaged products. We recently had the pleasure of chatting with founder, Nihal Elwan, to find out more.
How long has Tayybeh been around? How did you get started?
Tayybeh started in 2016 as a series of pop-up dinner events where locals were invited to attend a soiree of Syrian food and music. The objective at the time was to introduce Vancouverites to the deliciousness of Syrian food while getting our newcomer Syrian women chefs to connect with and meet locals and enable them to step out of isolation and overcome the language barrier. Our food got rave reviews and soon we started receiving catering orders and, as a result, we launched Tayybeh as a full-service catering company bringing delicious healthy Syrian food to events all over Vancouver’s Lower Mainland and surrounding areas
What does Tayybeh mean? How did you choose the name?
Tayybeh is an Arabic word that means both kind and delicious in the feminine form. A yummy meal or dish is ‘Tayybeh’ and that word is used very often in the Syrian or Levantine Arabic dialect. When we were thinking of the concept of the enterprise we wanted to choose a name that reflects our feminine identity while showcasing what we do best, being kind, generous and offering delicious food. Fun fact: our Tayybeh logo is read in English (left to right), and also reads in Arabic letters (right to left).
What are the three most important things you think people should know about Tayybeh Foods?
- Tayybeh is a social enterprise entirely run and operated by women.
- We support women refugees find their footing in Canada and support their families.
- Our food is traditional and healthy Syrian fare that we love to share through catering, weekly meals individually packaged, a line of frozen dinners, and traditional dips/spread/baked goods offered at stores, farmers markets, and online markets.
You aim to empower Syrian women chefs, How do you do this?
When Tayybeh started, we employed newcomer women who had literally just arrived to Canada (some of the ladies were hired 2 or 3 months into their arrival to Vancouver). These ladies had not held a job before and had no prior employment experience in addition to the language barrier and cultural unfamiliarity with the work environment. It would probably have been quite difficult for them to find employment elsewhere so soon into their arrival here. However through Tayybeh, they found employment, financial independence (often these ladies were employed before their husbands could get a job), a sense of self and confidence, and perhaps most importantly, they built deep friendships and connections having met in our kitchen and worked side by side every day for years.
How do you come with your dishes/ products are they all traditional Syrian cooking or do you also take inspiration from the Vancouver area?
Syrian food is extremely regional, perhaps in the same way Italian food is. Throughout the Middle East, Syria is known as the culinary hub of the region where recipes have been developed and fine-tuned over centuries. Cities like Damascus and Aleppo have long been the culinary Meccas of the region where food enthusiasts from the region would travel to learn about good food. As our chefs hail from different regions around Syria, each one of them is very proud of her hometown and family recipes. To develop Tayybeh’s menus and recipes, we took the time to test all of their dishes and tried to come up with recipes and to develop a menu that reflects these rich and flavourful regional variations while maintaining authenticity.
How do you source ingredients for your dishes?
Through our trusted Middle Eastern suppliers as well as a range of local produce providers and suppliers.
If you could only have one of your dishes/products for the rest of your life which one would it be?
That is a tough one! It would have to be a tie between our Sweet Red Pepper spread and our Smoked Eggplant dip. Both are incredibly delicious, bursting with flavour and incredibly good for you!
Why did you choose to come to the UBC Saturday Market specifically?
This market is well known throughout Vancouver to offer a thoroughly enjoyable experience for shoppers as well as offering an amazing opportunity for small businesses like ourselves to connect with locals and spread the word about their brand and work. We love this market in particular as we also get to experience the UBC farm and enjoy the beautiful scenery.
Where else can customers find you? Is there anything else you want them to know?
You can find us at Mount Pleasant FM, the West End FM as well as various stores throughout the Lower Mainland. Do follow us on Facebook and Instagram to know where we will be next! We are bringing our food truck to UBC throughout the summer! Be sure to look for our pretty pink truck offering delicious Syrian vegetarian fare and say hello to our lovely team!Market Dates | Instagram | Website | Facebook page