Monday July 22nd, 2024
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No Ketchup Just Sauce: Tafeeda is an Ode to a Sauce Expert’s Grandma

Tafeeda is a sauce brand with a menu full of elaborate recipes, each sprinkled in the eternality of a grandmother’s love.

Layla Raik

No Ketchup Just Sauce: Tafeeda is an Ode to a Sauce Expert’s Grandma

The forgotten underdogs of every good meal, sauces and garnishes, almost always comes to us as an afterthought - the final ingredient we resistantly make the fateful trip to the fridge for after settling in with our dishes. Regardless, the addition always proves worth it; a good garnish can make or break a meal. Perhaps we should pay more attention?

Akram Lotfy, the founder of Tafeeda, recognised the importance of sauces. In fact, he delved headfirst into their world to engineer an extensive menu of sauces and garnishes, some with Korean and Asian influences, that now make up Tafeeda. Did I mention he was an engineer?

When Lotfy graduated engineering in Alexandria, he came to Cairo to pursue a career in his chosen field. However, before long, he found that his hands longed to be in the place where he felt most alive: the kitchen. So he quit engineering, and began an internship at the Eatery, where he learned the ins and outs of the F&B industry.

While his time at the eatery certainly fed his interest in food, Akram found the most joy in his grandmother Tafeeda’s kitchen. “When I was young, my grandmother’s chosen method of babysitting me was to sit together and watch cooking shows,” Lotfy tells SceneEats. “She awoke the love for food in me.”

One day, when Lotfy was searching for a more vibrant flavour for his food, he experimented with various hot sauce recipes in the kitchen. The result was absolutely sumptuous, and his friends and family couldn’t get enough of it. He gradually got more and more invested in the world of sauces, learning and experimenting with recipes from all over the globe, particularly the far East. 

“I found that the most interesting, creative recipes were born out of a need for food,” Lotfy shares. “Populations who have survived famine and poverty had to make something out of nothing. Today, their survival led to the birth of uniquely delicious traditional treats.” 

The intense flavour profile of Asian, specifically Korean, sauces and garnishes drew Lotfy in, and he began trying his hand out at traditional delicacies like kimchi. But, since we are not in Korea and so cannot make entirely Korean kimchi, he began tampering with these recipes, infusing an Egyptian twist onto them. 

“Tafeeda’s kimchi, for example, contains a mix of Egyptian and Korean chilli, which ends up creating an entirely novel flavour profile,” Lotfy says. “Similarly, the pomegranate BBQ sauce was born out of a need for the introduction of a sweet yet culturally rooted flavour to classic BBQ. At the end of the day, the products you see on Tafeeda’s menu make up only about a quarter of the creations I experimented with.”

When Lotfy’s grandmother became sick, he knew he wanted to create a concept to eternally guard her legacy, and to eternally hold his love for her. Tafeeda became that. “My grandmother was diagnosed with dementia. Gradually, the stream of her memories became broken up, distorted. It seemed like there was a disconnection between her memories.”

Tafeeda, the brand, honours Lotfy’s grandmother in her entirety, in all her states. This is why the brand’s branding is largely inspired by her interaction with dementia. “Tafeeda’s logo is an exact print of my grandmother’s signature after she became sick,” Lotfy shares. “The letters in sauce names are far apart, representing the disconnect in her memories, just like how all the labels look uniquely torn and broken up. Even the light patterning on the packaging resembles the pattern on her kitchen floor.”

Tafeeda’s is a story filled with genuine relentless love, which makes the very process of buy-and-sell incredibly personal. As he works out just how to incorporate such an intimate procedure into a web interface, Lotfy currently operates by selling at events and markets, like Grill Setup and Cairo Food Week’s What We Eat market.


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