Food News

Baboush Chef Yaser Khalaf on How to Make it in America (It All Starts in Lexington)

Yaser Khalaf, owner of Medina and Baboush in the West Village, traveled throughout the Middle East and Europe as a child. Then in college, he traversed America, Route 66-style, in a van in which he literally blew the engine. His life-long passion for food, culture and people helped mold him into a successful restaurateur. He's naturally good with people and tells great stories, but in terms of the business side of things, everything he is now, he learned in Lexington, Kentucky. Yes, Lexington.

Where are you from? I was born in Kuwait City to a Palestinian family. I lived there until I was 15 years old and was fortunate enough to travel everywhere while growing up: Tunisia, Nigeria, Egypt, Lebanon, Greece, Spain, Italy, Southern France.

How did you wind up in Dallas? Well, I wound up in Lexington, Kentucky first.

How did you wind up in Lexington? I went to the University of Kentucky to study accounting.

How was that transition -- world traveler to a city in Kentucky? It was very boring. It's a small town and I liked the people a lot; they're very nice. I like the southern hospitality there -- how they open the doors and say thank you all the time. It was just a slower pace of life.

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Lauren Drewes Daniels is the Dallas Observer's food editor. She started writing about local restaurants, chefs, beer and kouign-amanns in 2011. She's driven through two dirt devils and is certain they were both some type of cosmic force.