Mamnoon co-owner Racha Haroun on the Middle Eastern palate and impressing the moms.

Mamnoon has just recently celebrated one year in business. Congrats! Tell me a bit about the journey so far.

It's been exciting-challenging but necessary. Since I am Syrian and Iranian, I feel that it's through the food that guests have been able to appreciate the warmth and compassion that have been part of our cultures for thousands of years.

I grew up eating both foods and for many years shared my love and respect for the food with our friends. It felt like the right time to share with our adopted home, Seattle. We feel honored that people appreciate the experience and share the love of the food.

All the recent events and news are masking the good that’s in these ancient civilizations and I feel compelled to share these positive aspects with Seattle and the greater Northwest community.

How would you describe the role you play at the restaurant?

I really love the creative aspect of mamnoon. Art has always been a very important part of my life and I taught myself to cook the foods that I grew up with while living in Seattle.

I am proud to be part of the creative process of bringing mamnoon to life. Curating the guest experience from start to finish, the feel and the taste.

I was raised with the palate to know and appreciate good Lebanese, Syrian and Iranian cuisines. Our culinary team is exceptionally talented, but not necessarily totally experienced in the cuisine and the desired outcomes. I work closely with our executive chef Garrett Melkonian and the rest of the talented kitchen staff and have been excited to see that they've started to acquire the palate and can now make authentic dishes better than I ever made. Even our most critical guests, our moms, approve! We apply a lot of creativity in presenting dishes that are common in the middle east, but new to most of our guests, to help make the dishes less mysterious and more approachable.

What have been some of the most rewarding and challenging aspects of the process?

The most rewarding part is realizing that our hearts are in the right place. We are proud of our foods but we wanted to showcase it in a modern Northwest setting.

We noticed that our children are very proud of our achievement and the fact that hard work and perseverance pays off. The hardest part has been the constant awareness that our families are living in a tense war situation with a very uncertain future. Caring and nurturing mamnoon keeps us busy and sane, while really highlighting the beautiful aspects of our culture.