On the Line: Rashad Moumneh of Falasophy, Part One
If you overthink Falasophy, you're missing the point
I thought luxe loncheras were starting to die down around here, until an acquaintance informed me he was about to launch one. Rashad's investment in Falasophy was a result of years of following a career path he wasn't particularly passionate about. His desire to provide a flavorful option to vegetarians (vegans, too!) leads us to this week's Q & A.
Why falafels and hummus? I wanted to do a vegetarian concept because I felt that as a society, we eat too much meat. I also wanted to do something delicious that people would crave. Falafel and hummus were the perfect intersection of those two goals. Historically, falafel was invented more than a thousand years ago by the Copts of Egypt to eat during Lent. Falafel is now consumed all over the world, not necessarily because they are vegetarian, but because they taste amazing. It also helped that I knew these two items well, and honestly felt that we did not have good options for them in Southern California.
What is your beverage of choice? Morning beverage: Turkish latte from Kean. Evenings: A good Belgian-style craft beer (which goes great with a falafel sandwich, by the way.)
Let's talk about the origin of the name. We had been brainstorming names for a while, when my former co-worker, Mark Cuellar, came up with this. It just stuck. Next thing you know, we had a whole slew of philosophic sayings influenced by falafels, and we built the brand around them. "Falafel is a serious mental disease" for example, is adapted from Plato.
Most undervalued ingredient: Pomegranate molasses. I love it. We use it to marinate the eggplant at Falasophy.
Where was your recent meal? Taco Asylum. Many, many tacos. Oh, and Belgian beers (many of those, as well.)
Favorite places to eat. ARC, Playground, Lola Gaspar, Taco Asylum. For trucks, I love Soho Taco (some of the best quality tacos out there; not just on a food truck). And Dogzilla for some serious dogs.
Best culinary tip for the home cook: Make cooking fun. Have some wine or drinks while cooking, and use recipes only for guidance. Taste and smell the food as you go along and add your own touch to it.
One food you can't live without. Labne (a Lebanese version of Greek yogurt). I top it with olive oil and Zaatar and eat it with pita.
Weirdest thing you've ever eaten: Processed supermarket food.
What do you recommend for first-timers? Our classic falafel sandwich. Second time, get it with the pomegranate eggplant-- that's my favorite.
Favorite meal growing up. Baked kafta with potatoes, a Lebanese-style meatloaf.
You're making breakfast. What are you having? Grilled Hallumi cheese sandwich, with fresh mint, black olives and Persian cucumbers.
Biggest challenge in operating a food truck: For us, it was finding the right suppliers. We had very specific needs.
Weirdest customer request. Customers customize their sandwiches, pizza and bowls so much that nothing seems weird. Similar to ordering a pizza and customizing the toppings, we welcome it, actually. We let customers create whatever they want from any ingredient on the menu.
Culinarily speaking, Orange County has the best: Hidden gems. Restaurants like ARC or Playground, for example. Those places rank among the most daring and best restaurants, yet I don't think they get the recognition they deserve because they are in the OC. Had they been in NY or LA, they would be international sensations.
What is your goal for Falasophy: More trucks, a brick-and-mortar or something else? I think a brick-and-mortar, simply because we have many other cool items that we would like to serve, but are somewhat limited by the truck due to space and cooking equipment.
Your best recent food find. Green eggs and ham doughnut from Sidecar Doughnuts in Costa Mesa. Life changer.
Your earliest food memory: My late grandfather in Lebanon asking me to come into the kitchen to taste the hummus he prepared in order to tell him if it was missing anything, or if it needed more of an ingredient.
Keep up with the Falasophy team at www.falasophy.com.
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