By Kara Baskin
BOSTON (Boston Globe) — Armenian-Lebanese restaurateur Nina Festekjian grew up in Lebanon during the Civil War. She and her husband, Raffi, opened Anoush’ella Saj Kitchen to share their favorite childhood recipes with the South End. She has no professional culinary training; instead, she honed her kitchen skills cooking for three sons and throwing plenty of parties and charitable gatherings. “I feel like I’m a chef by experience,” she says.
What’s the first restaurant you ever ate at in Boston?
Todd English’s Olives in Charlestown. I loved his paella! We did catering for my son’s first birthday, and he delivered it himself. We got to know him when he brought it. He gave me the platter to keep, he explained how to serve it with the sauce on top, and then he left. This was in 1996.
What’s one thing you’d like to fix about the restaurant industry here?
I didn’t have [restaurant] experience. My husband and I had to research every single aspect of operating the restaurant. I would love to have a single portal for chefs to quickly make decisions . . . the best way to install digital displays, or to get eco-friendly containers or custom-bottled juices, or to learn social media best practices. We did our own research in every single area. It’s very time-consuming.