Family Meal: Ry Essi
A variation on stuffed grape leaves that pairs family tradition with some of our homemade Gjusta mezze spreads.
At our restaurants we are guided by listening and learning from the stories of our team, particularly the ways our families, upbringings, and lineage have shaped the way we consider, source, prepare, and share food. Our series Family Meal spotlights recipes from different members of our team that have — in some way — informed the way they cook today.
This week, we’re excited to share an early summer recipe from Ry Essi, a multi-talented creative who works with the Gjelina Group as both a photographer and formerly as our farmer’s market liaison. Inspired by their family’s Jordanian background, Ry created a variation on stuffed grape leaves that pairs family tradition with some of the homemade Gjusta mezze spreads like baba ganoush, hummus, za’atar, and labneh offered at our bakery and grocery.
“Since I was a kid, grape leaves have always been a staple in my diet. From canned vegetarian grape leaves to home-cooked grape leaves with meat, I’ve forever been fond of this food from my homeland,” Ry explains. “My Baba's side of the family is from Amman, Jordan. He is one of 10 siblings… and all of them relocated to Syracuse, NY, where most of my aunts, uncles, and cousins make their living through restaurants they own and the nourishment they provide to their communities. Every year, it’s a tradition that my Aunt Maha will roll thousands of grape leaves for the Arabic festival at their church. I feel incredibly lucky to belong to a family that prioritizes making and indulging in the most delicious foods with recipes passed down from our ancestors.”
“A few years ago, I journeyed to Jordan with some of my family members and was blessed to experience our cultural dishes from the source. We met some of our extended family there, who kept bringing us plate after plate; the love language of Arabs is food, [and always] leaving full. It’s a treat whenever I get a taste of back home.”