Maha’s is named after our beautiful mother and Head Chef, Maha Barsoom. Food is a huge part of Egyptian culture, and our mother always dreamed of opening her own little Egyptian restaurant.
My brother Mark and myself, Monika, were spoiled from a very young age with cuisine that was always fresh and homemade. We come from a large family, who celebrated every occasion with communal meals. The women in our family are exceptional cooks, and our celebrations continually shifted from one home to another. We feasted for any reason; food always brought us together.
Our family immigrated to Toronto, Canada in the winter of the year 2000. It was a huge transition with many rewards and lots of challenges. As an immigrant family, we are all too familiar with feeling homesick. Luckily, our mother was passionate about cooking us delicious Egyptian food that made us feel at home no matter where we lived. We try to emulate this homey feeling and experience at Maha’s.
Upon moving to Canada, our mother successfully pursued a career as an Interpreter and Translator, driven by her passion to help others. At an Interpreter’s event, Maha brought one of her casseroles and everyone raved about how they’d never tasted anything so scrumptious. Her colleagues urged her to start a catering business, and she was convinced. Mark and I always helped our mother with her catering events, and we learned a lot along the way about food and entrepreneurship.
When our mother fantasized about us opening our own restaurant, we warned her that the idea was very high risk and demanding. A few years later, upon completing my BFA at York University, and while Mark was in his second year at Centennial College, we found ourselves still working in the service industry. We learned a lot from our past employer and dear friend, James Feistner, owner of Grinder on Main. He taught us how to make a mean coffee, and what it takes to own and operate a small business.
In early December of 2013, Mark and I called our mother Maha, who was in Cairo, Egypt at the time. We happily told her we were in full support of opening our own restaurant. Eager to make it something truly special, we realized that if we all worked together we could create an amazing little Egypt in Toronto. The restaurant dream quickly started to become a reality in late March of 2014, when we found our hidden space tucked away just a little north of Gerrard Street.
We opened Maha’s doors to our wonderful Greenwood and Gerrard neighbourhood on September 28th of 2014. We converted our space from what was once a kitchen and bath cabinet store, into a cozy restaurant of our own. One of the best ways to experience and get to know a country is through its food. At Maha’s we are proud to share our Egypt in a city as beautiful and diverse as Toronto.
We are so blessed to see our smiling neighbourhood faces daily. We’ve met many wonderful people, who have come to us from all over Toronto to “Eat Like An Egyptian”. We have had the pleasure of meeting customers who’ve made the trip from all over Ontario: London, Oshawa, Hamilton, Windsor, and even Thunder Bay!
Your endless support, heartwarming words, and all the cheers for our homemade Egyptian food brings us pure joy. You keep us going every day. We look forward to sharing many more celebrations and authentic Egyptian dishes with you. From our home to your table.
Written by Monika Wahba, Sous Chef at Maha’s
Edited by Michelle Petrides