Taste is one of the most intensely felt senses that even affects memory. There is a strong relationship between taste and memory.
When Lena Artunian, a chef and food content creator, thinks of her childhood, the taste of traditional Syrian delicacies being cooked in the heartwarming environment of their family restaurant takes over her. Lena is a third-generation chef from Syria and Lebanon who learned to cook at her parents’ house. All credit goes to her grandfather, George Ghadanian, who was determined to pass down what he had learned from his uncles when it came to cooking delicious Syrian delicacies.
Sharing her memories of her grandpa, Lena reminisces, “Waking up at dawn every morning, Grandpa George would select the freshest produce and top-notch meat in order to prepare the food before the cooking began. It is during the preparation process that our food receives its rich flavor and aroma, which leaves a deep impression on our customers. This process has been venerated within our family for decades, especially when the family moved to Southern California.”
Growing up, Lena also watched her father work hard at his restaurant in North Hollywood, CA called Zouhour as an immigrant. She recalls spending most of her time at the restaurant helping her parents in the kitchen, cooking, and serving customers outside. When her father passed away suddenly due to a massive heart attack, Lena’s relationship with cooking and the kitchen became the only connection with her father’s memory. She says, “Deep down in my heart, cooking seems to be following me, and every time I’m in the kitchen, somehow I hear my late father talking to me and guiding me into the cooking field.”
As she recognized her passion for cooking, HyeFeastLA was born on IG. She began sharing and teaching his delectable recipes to the younger generations worldwide to preserve her family’s recipes from Armenian Lebanese culture and keep his memories alive. It has been ten years since she started food blogging, and today she has established herself as the go-to chef for people who enjoy old family recipes and appreciate her unique food videos, recipes, tips, and skills.
Furthermore, her one-on-one cooking classes have been a hit since the COVID-19 lockdowns. For Lena, her success as a food blogger and chef reflects her love for not just the craft but also her father, who happens to be the reason behind it. She thoroughly enjoys watching others learn from her and enjoying her meals, and says, “This is what’s keeping me happy for now because I enjoy cooking so much. It reminds me of my father; every meal has a story and memory of him, my father, Mihran Ghadanian.”
Lena’s blog, HyeFeastLA is keeping the memories and the food traditions of loved ones alive and sharing all those recipes with her 17K followers, who not only support her but are keen to learn each of these recipes. Lena’s late father, Mihran, would have been really proud of her daughter, seeing how she cooks with an open mind and heart and lets the ingredients “speak” to her. Her family’s love for cooking goes way deeper!