Chef Anoosh Shariat shares his thoughts on the pandemic, spring cuisine and celebrating life through food
By Laura Ross
Photos by Kathryn Harrington
It’s time to reconnect, as guests return to the Louisville dining scene. Louisville’s legendary Chef Anoosh Shariat and his Persian-inspired restaurants, including the fine dining Anoosh Bistro, and the cool-casual Noosh Nosh, are favorites for fresh, inspired food. We sat down with Chef Shariat, to look ahead to brighter days on the horizon after the tumultuous past year.
Have we turned a positive direction from this time last spring?
I think, if you asked anyone a year ago how long this pandemic would take, I don’t think anyone would have guessed this long. Despite that, we are doing well, and the promises of the COVID-19 vaccine have brought confidence to most of us. I think people are taking a deep breath and starting to move about more.
What was 2020 like for you and your restaurants?
It felt like it lasted three years. We shut both restaurants in March and reopened Noosh Nosh first to do food for people who needed it. In April, we reopened Anoosh Bistro with PPP money that helped us get through to November. We adjusted our menus, focused on curbside dining and are now slowly welcoming guests back into the restaurants. We were grateful and able to sustain this because Louisville diners supported us – and other Louisville restaurants – like I’ve never seen before.
What’s new for this spring?
In the Persian culture, spring is important, because the equinox is when our new year begins. We are all new sprouts, right? I’m cautiously optimistic that this is going to be a new beginning and I think people are going to want to go out. One way to travel for guests is to experience the world through food.
Since October, I’ve partnered with other local chefs to create a monthly dinner series experience with limited seating at the Bistro. On March 24, Guest Chef Jeff Jarfi and I will present a Moroccan dinner experience at Anoosh Bistro, featuring a trio of Moroccan salads, and entrees including special presentations of traditional Marrakesh couscous with vegetables, a family recipe of Cornish hen braised in onion, saffron, lemon and parsley and a slow-cooked beef tenderloin.
In both restaurants, we’re trying to be creative and create an experience. We change the menu every two weeks in the Bistro, keeping favorites, but adding seasonal items including more fowl and seafood for the spring. We always follow the growing season, first with lettuces and greens, then beans and asparagus and my favorite wild mushrooms. Lamb is always good in the spring and we will feature that also.
At Noosh Nosh, we are brainstorming new ideas for spring and adding more brunch and lunch items as guests return to in-person dining. We are also working on ramping up catering through Anoosh Bistro in a partnership with Jeff Jarfi, so guests can bring that experience home with them, whether it’s a small dinner party or a big wedding.
What is your message to guests – and employees – who’ve supported you?
It’s simple: thank you. Our friends and guests asked how they could help. They order from us, they are dining in when they can and are so generous to our servers. Our staff is beyond words. What I’m grateful for are the people who stood with us through thick and thin. This past year made us understand each other better and respect each other more.
What is your takeaway for this past year?
We learned to be resilient and value what we have in the moment because you never know what tomorrow can bring. Celebrating life is so important and we know people celebrate through food.
Food makes you happy, and if we provide an hour or two of happiness, that’s good. I tell guests to take time to not think about anything else and just go to where your happy time is and let us take care of you with food. We will give you a memorable experience.
My wish is that people come out of this with gratitude for each day. Life is not about things, it’s the memories we make together and that’s all we get to take with us. So come make memories with us.
Join Chef Anoosh Shariat and Guest Chef Jeff Jarfi for a special Moroccan dinner at Anoosh Bistro, 4864 Brownsboro Road, March 24. For a reservation, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 502.690.6585.