Have you ever wondered who oversees the magic that happens in the Tayybeh kitchen and ensures the quality of the flavourful Syrian food that you love?
Here’s a behind-the-scenes look at the talented woman who is tasked with keeping our kitchen running smoothly. We are proud to introduce one of the most integral members of our team, our extraordinary Kitchen Manager, Rana Khalaf.
Who is Rana Khalaf?
A true global citizen, Rana was born and raised in Kuwait, completed high school in Jordan, and did her higher education at the American University of Cyprus and the Arab Academy for Science Technology and Maritime Transport in Egypt. No stranger to management, she was a project engineer and manager in Kuwait where she worked with one of the top construction companies. In her various specialized jobs, she oversaw numerous major projects and responsibilities, including an electrical engineering stint at the municipality of Kuwait where she managed street lighting in the city.
A few years ago, when she moved to Canada with her family, she shifted gears, earned an associates degree in sales, and began her Canadian work experience as a sales associate in the jewellery business in Vancouver. In the summer of 2021, she joined Tayybeh to oversee the day-to-day functioning of the kitchen. Let’s just say that was quite a change in her career!
A Day in the Life of Tayybeh’s Kitchen Manager
When you enjoy our delicious Middle Eastern cuisine, maybe you’ve wondered what a typical day in the Tayybeh kitchen is like. According to Rana, “every day is a new day, a different day in the kitchen.”
Rana describes the feeling of stepping into the kitchen and being totally engaged. She feels everyone on the team is the same way. “We all give our best, with love, care, and limitless efforts, to make sure everything is its best,” she explains. Rana begins her day by welcoming the team and chatting with the chefs to make sure everyone knows their tasks for the day and then checking the inventory to make sure everything is on schedule and running smoothly.
The team uses a sheet they refer to as ‘the Bible’, which contains plans for the day, week, and month ahead. “I always keep an eye on our shared schedule to make sure everything is on track,” Rana explains. It’s crucial to know when everything needs to be ready and communicate any last-minute changes to the team.
Managing a kitchen can be hectic. “Life before Tayybeh was quieter with fewer challenges,” Rana says. But knowing her, she welcomes these challenges as new adventures that keep her on her toes at all times. Rana is proud of the way the whole team, including the chefs, works together.
“I’m never worried because everyone faces these challenges with a smile and does their best,” she says. Her confidence comes “from knowing I have the best chefs, we all give our best efforts with limitless love and care to make everything the best way we can.”
Taking On and Overcoming the Challenges of COVID-19
COVID-19 has put a spotlight on health and safety, and it’s no different for the food industry. Though there is no evidence of COVID-19 being transmitted through food, Tayybeh has put extra precautions in place for the good of our customers and employees.
“As a kitchen manager, health and safety are top priority these days,” Rana reiterates. The Tayybeh team has adopted all preventive actions necessary to slow the spread of the virus.
And as for the impact of COVID-19 on the food industry, Tayybeh has creatively and resourcefully weathered the storm and is still standing strong thanks to the efforts and energies of the Tayybeh Team, especially Rana Khalaf!
What is the Most Rewarding Part of Your Job?
When describing what is the best part of her job, Rana is quick to state that “what’s happening in the Tayybeh is truly magical!” She credits all the positive energy, love, care, and passion poured into the chefs’ work for the delicious food produced at Tayybeh, all of which has a very positive impact on her personally.
Reflecting on the things she loves most about her job, Rana doesn’t blink before saying that interacting with customers is a big part of what makes her work enjoyable. She says this is especially the case because Tayybeh’s customers are unlike clients at any other company. Tayybeh’s customers aren’t the typical clients. Instead, there’s a relationship between those who buy the food and the company that is truly special. Rana explains that Tayybeh’s customers “give us and the whole team so much support–everything from their appreciation of our story to their love for our food.”
One of the things that makes Rana happy is to be part of one of the most dynamic all-women management teams in Vancouver’s food industry! “Working with founder Nihal Elwan, catering manager Rana Ashour and operations manager Tahani Awad has been an amazing experience,” explains Rana. “It’s really an incredible team filled with women power, innovation, limitless efforts, and creative ideas.” In fact, she argues merely working for Tayybeh itself is something rewarding given how much admiration she had for the company from the moment she heard about it, and long before joining the team.
Tayybeh’s Biggest Company Achievement, Through Rana’s Eyes
Tayybeh’s commitment to providing opportunities for refugees to showcase their talents and become independent is the reason why Rana was a big fan of Tayybeh even before joining the team.
She describes the magic that happens by working closely with a diverse team as the most rewarding part of her job. “Their care, their happiness, their positive energy that goes into the food they make and interacting with the customers is something I really love,” she explains.
She’s thrilled to be a part of the management team and to work closely with such amazing and innovative female founders.
Another memorable accomplishment this year was building stronger connections and collaborations with universities across the Lower Mainland. Beginning to work closely with the University of British Columbia (UBC) to bring Tayybeh’s incomparable food to the province’s biggest postsecondary institution is a real treat. Also, continuing this year as an official caterer at Simon Fraser University, Tayybeh is proud to be offering its delicious Syrian fare to all three campuses of SFU–Burnaby, Vancouver, and Surrey.
But if she had to choose one of the biggest achievements of the past year, Rana says, “the greatest accomplishment was creating our frozen meals line.” The delicious meals include a variety of options for both meat lovers and vegans and are made with healthy ingredients to allow everyone to get a taste of authentic Syrian food. Rana explains that she personally loves those meals and is convinced that they will be hugely successful very soon!
Finally, Rana explains one of the big things to happen at Tayybeh this year was partnering with Too Good to Go, a zero waste food company, to ensure that there is no surplus food from the kitchen that ends up discarded. Instead, some delicious meals are delivered through this unique and sustainable service.