Chef Nancy Agar Makes Tomato Cucumber Salad

chef: nancy agar
location: nancy's mediterranean, kutztown, pa
recipe: tomato cucumber salad

Culinary influences?
My mother-in-law and my Syrian elders.

Where did you learn to cook?
Self-taught, and my mother’s kitchen.

Favorite cookbook?
Nancy’s Cookbook. (Everyone is always telling me to write a cookbook, so I have been saving recipes and hope to have my own cookbook in the future.)

What’s the one ingredient you couldn’t live without?
Olive oil and garlic.

Favorite music to listen to while cooking?
Country music.

Favorite Microbrew beer or wine?

Favorite type of food?
Middle Eastern.

Most memorable meal?
My daughter’s baby shower. I made miniature spinach pies, meat pies, fresh tabbouleh, hummus, and fresh pita—I made an excellent meal.

Most memorable dinner guest?
Oh, my wonderful nephew Jason who lives in Colorado. He just loves this food. When he comes to visit, he’s always like, “Let’s go to Nancy’s!”

Most irritating celebrity chef?
Martha Stewart—It’s just kind of boring and everything has to be so perfect. It shouldn’t be perfect; you should just do whatever you want to do.

What makes indie food better?
Well, there’s no preservatives, and it’s all fresh. All the fresh ingredients make it taste good. If you use all fresh ingredients, it’s going to taste good.

What do you think about the corporate, large chain restaurants and establishments?
I consider it all fast food, because you don’t know what you’re getting in there. I found out that all these big chains put MSG in all of their soups, and they even put it in pizzas, as a flavor enhancer. It’s very bad for your health and it makes a lot of people sick, and they don’t even know it’s from that.