Described as a “family establishment, run with a love for good, scratch made food,” Yolk Cafe is now open in North Phoenix. It wasn’t the easiest feat, opening a restaurant in the middle of a pandemic, but the owners were determined to make it a success.
“When we started our journey pre-COVID to open a restaurant, we thought about all the things we love about food and the things we hate,” shared co-owners Jayne Bahoura and Dina Mati. “We decided we were going to open a restaurant the way we thought all restaurants should run. As women who have toiled endless hours opening and running our existing non-food related businesses, we knew it would take a lot of hard work and effort to run.”
The duo set their goals and they were finally able to open their breakfast and lunch restaurant in June 2020.
“We stay focused on good food, clean atmosphere, beautiful décor and a very friendly, well qualified staff,” Bahoura and Mati said, adding, “Our dog friendly patio does not hurt either.”
“We don’t have customers that dine with us, we have guests that come into our restaurant and they are treated just like they are in our home in a casual, relaxed atmosphere,” Nadia Salem, director of Culinary for Yolk Café, agreed. “We take such pride in every dish that goes out of our kitchen.”
Behind the Scenes at Yolk Cafe
We caught up with Salem who opened up about her background and the philosophy behind Yolk Cafe. |CST
Please, briefly introduce yourself.
I am Nadia Salem the director of Culinary for Yolk Cafe. I have been with them since day one. I always say if you don’t cook with passion, and love to feed people then you shouldn’t be cooking.
How did you get into the restaurant business/where were you trained?
I decided to enroll after high school in the Hotel Restaurant Business program at UC Santa Barbara. I was very fortunate, graduating with my four-year degree and winning the Julia Child scholarship, after transferring to Arizona to continue my education in culinary arts at Le Cordon Bleu.
From where do you draw your culinary inspiration?
I got into the business over 28 years ago. It started with me watching my father cooking a big breakfast every Saturday, while my mom rushed around him to do the dishes so he didn’t make a mess in her kitchen.
How would you describe the flavor profile of your restaurant?
It’s really hard to describe flavor profile, especially in the breakfast segment. You have your traditional dishes of course, but you also have your unique dishes that you’re not expecting at times that are robust and full of flavor.
Every dish has such a special place with me. It’s the pride that we take to give our guests not just a meal but an experience when they dine with us.
What are some of the interesting industry trends that you are seeing?
I see that more people are calling for fresh ingredients, full bold flavors, dishes that you will remember — people are looking for more of an experience than anything.
Do you focus on sourcing local ingredients? If so, what is your philosophy behind that focus?
Since day one that has been a priority to us, to keep local in our restaurant. From Shamrock that delivers our food, to our produce company, Grand Avenue, that’s there every morning delivering fresh produce. Venezia Bakery, we can’t forget about our local bread company that’s there every day delivering our fresh bread.
What is your favorite dish at your restaurant? Why?
My favorite dish is our Croissant French Toast. Yes, croissant bread, that is lightly dipped in a sweet cinnamon batter and cooked to perfection with two house made vanilla custard sauces and topped with toasted almonds, finished with strawberry and whip cream. Yummy!
What is your go-to dish to cook at home?
Italian is always my go-to — it’s simple and always good.
What are the elements that make for a memorable meal?
A memorable meal to me is something that has lots of flavor and I would crave to have again and again.