We had the good fortune of connecting with MARIAM DENNAWI and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi MARIAM, do you have some perspective or insight you can share with us on the question of when someone should give up versus when they should keep going?
I believe that it’s important to know when you’re burning out in order to preserve yourself. I learned the hard way even when someone warned me that burn out is real and will happen no matter how much passion you have. When I had my first Sous chef role working for Reem Assil and Daniel Patterson, I was over the moon! I loved the restaurant and felt like I was meant to be there. I didn’t want to be anywhere else, so I came to work as early as possible and left as late as possible. 8 months later, I was sick nearly every day and lost my voice for over a month. Realizing I had no balance or personal life, I took a step back. I look back and think “where would I be if I paced myself”.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
I started a cake dealer (formerly bake me baby) in 2014. I was in Junior College and really loved to bake. Shortly after, people started asking if they could order cakes and the business birthed itself. I am very picky with the cakes I accept and am sure not to overwhelm myself with orders so every cake is perfect. I’ve decided to stick to boutique/ designer cakes at a ghost kitchen in ATL part time. As for my main project, I am opening a fun Juice Bar this month in Johns Creek. We are so excited to bring delicious and healthy treats to the area. Here i’ll be able to showcase our healthy baked goods along with speciality juices and smoothie bowls. The goal is to be creative every week and bring delicious healthy options to the area. I am most excited about our brunch toasts.
My IG handles are
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
First we would start with a tour of the coffee shops I love most and let them choose. My go to was Octane before they closed, so now my favorite is Valor. We’d then stop by Ria’s Bluebird Cafe in Atlanta for brunch. We’d then go to Ponce City Market for some adult juice packs from El Super Pan and head over to Gunshow for dinner. Can’t forget to check out Delbar and Slutty Vegan for the culture. I’d need to be able to squeeze Rumi’s Kitchen in since their food is divine. The Knafeh from Mandolin Kitchen is truly the best! So we’d have to go there for some coffee and Knafeh. Another few places I love are…
Fox Bros BBQ
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
The biggest influence for baking cakes was watching “Cake Boss” and “Ace of Cakes” as a kid. I was the youngest of 4 at the time, and since none of my siblings would play with me I would make cakes and cream puffs. My first cake ever was a strawberries and cream cake that I made while my siblings all watched The Candy Man. SO GOOD.
What always kept me moving was my families constant support. Especially my mom! Even when something didn’t taste perfect, she would encourage me and push me to keep going. It really helped with my imposter syndrome to be surrounded by constant support in my personal life. I started a Pop up at 24 with no preparation and a lot of faith. My best friends and cousins helped me pull off sold out events by working for free and dealing with my organized chaos. If it wasn’t for Amenha, Courtney, Razan, Dalya, Nour, Omar and Mimi, I would have never been able to do it.
My first official kitchen role was at Dyafa working under Reem Assil who was amazing and Daniel Patterson (who was a lesson to be learned). They both taught me different things. Reem taught me that everything in life is earned and everyone deserves a fair chance at success. Daniel taught me that words don’t have to hurt and just because someone like him has an opinion about you, doesn’t mean it is true. Working with him was my first time working under a Chef with such a reputation. I was scared, nervous and excited all at the same time but was very ready for the challenge. I knew this was where I belonged at the time and wanted to seize the moment. Andrew (who was our consulting chef) taught me the most and with his tough love believed in me and took a chance on me. Daniel constantly told me I was “too young” and “too emotional” for having a problem with men treating me differently or being sexually harassed. The kitchen is a harsh place and is not for the weak. Only we can change the norms which is why I am so careful with who I hire at Juice Side.
Naji Sawwas Nour Kaddoura