My guest this week on Five Things is chef Anoosh Shariat, owner of two Louisville restaurants: Anoosh Bistro, a fine dining restaurant, and Noosh Nosh, a casual all-day eatery. He grew up in Iran, spent some time in Europe before coming to the U.S., and although he never went to culinary school, he’s worked in restaurants for all of his professional life. The slogan for his restaurants is “Eat well, love life” — because he really feels that healthy, enjoyable food is the foundation for a good life.
We talked about his childhood in Iran (including an amazing-sounding eggplant dish that his mother used to make), how he got into cooking, meeting his wife later in life, and about the gorgeous red-tiled pizza oven that sits at the center of Noosh Nosh.
On the Italian-made pizza oven that he’s nicknamed “Maria”:
“This tile, when I look at it, it represents fire. It has a lot of orange and yellow, and with light you get some blue. We named it Maria, inspired because of a friend of mine, Mary Morrow. Very strong individual, and she always supported me in my success. I think Maria has really been a focal point in our restaurant, and it brings me joy because of good memories and things that I have accomplished.”
On a classic Persian cookbook that taught him a lot:
“This particular book is really instrumental in what I learned on my own in cooking, besides working in hotel restaurants. I was very fortunate to work with phenomenal chefs. The more I went up to higher levels of cooking, all of a sudden there was more to learn. I was experimenting with this book, incorporating some of the Persian flavors in French dishes, and they would say, ‘This is good, what did you do?’ So I just said, ‘It’s something I picked up.’ I didn’t want to explain because then I wouldn’t be allowed to do it.”
On a ring that he inherited from his father:
“My father was a pretty unique individual. He was a scholar, if you will. He was a phenomenal mathematician. He could add six-digit numbers in his head, I’m talking about fifteen, sixteen rows. And he worked at the Iranian National Bank, he audited all the loans, so he added a lot of numbers. And that was before calculators were popular!”