July 10, 2011

Interview with Hani Khouri of Hani’s Mediterranean Organics

Today’sspotlight shines on none other than, Hani Khouri. Hani is a local celebrity ofsorts in certain South Florida foodie circles. A humble and appreciative man;this multi-linguist, MBA toting, world traveler is is our local goat herder,and cheese maker. Hani’s Mediterranean Organicssells handcrafted foods such as hummus and baba ganoush. A partial sampling ofhis cheese selections are goat, fromage blanc, paneer, and halloumi. And whatgood is having a herd of goats, if you can’t have goat milk ice cream? Hanialso makes this frozen treat in a variety of sweet and savory flavors. Sowithout further ado, I present this week’s entrepreneur in the spotlight, HaniKhouri, of Hani’s Mediterranean Organics.

Hani Khouri

South Florida Food and Wine: You are without a doubt the mostintriguing entrepreneur I’ve interviewed; artisan cheese maker, organic foodproducer and goat herder, tell us about Hani’s Mediterranean Organics?

HaniKhouri: Hani’sMediterranean Organics (HMO) began life as Redland Mediterranean Organics inNovember of 2008 at a Fruit & Spice Park event. That was the first time Iserved goat milk ice cream and Mediterranean food to the public. It was aninstantaneous hit. That eventually evolved into goat cheese making andMediterranean food such as hommos, baba ghanouj, tabbouleh, etc., allingredients as much as possible, locally sourced and organic. With the additionof cheese, we needed more goats, so we bought some goats and bred them. I havefresh goat milk with which I make my cheeses, ranging from formage blanc,traditional chevre, feta, haloummi, crottin, yoghurt and kefir. The cheese hasbeen a hit at many of the area’s top restaurants, so much so that it wasfeatured at a dinner at the James Beard House in New York earlier this month.

South Florida Food and Wine: Giventhe broad range of things you do, you probably don’t have a typical day, buttell us what an average day might be like for you.

HaniKhouri: Notypical day. Some days are reactive, in other words, a chef may call with aspecial custom cheese request, but the constant is the caring for the goats.I’m a goatherd after all. I make cheese every day and during the season,Mediterranean food for sale at the farmers markets. My specialty at the marketsis my own recipe for falafel wraps. A big seller.

South Florida Food and Wine: What isthe most challenging aspect of what you do?

Hani Khouri: Most challenging is time management.

South Florida Food and Wine: Who isthe one person you would love to share a plate of your artisan products withand why?

HaniKhouri: Mymother. She taught me how to make cheese as well as allowed me to play with myfood while I was growing up.

South Florida Food and Wine: It’syour last day on earth, what would your final meal be?

Hani Khouri: Green salad with a simple dressing ofextra virgin olive oil, lemon juice and sea salt. Stuffed zucchini, grapeleaves, lamb intestines all cooked on a bed of lamb chops served along withyoghurt cucumber salad. Arak as a drink and knafeh for dessert.

South Florida Food and Wine: Otherthan your own artisan products, who’s was the last you purchased?

Hani Khouri: Mozaritta, Vito Volpe’s artisanalmozzarella. The entire process of making your own product and takingit to market is challenging to say the least;

South Florida Food and Wine: Whatmotivates you?

Hani Khouri: Passion for good, wholesome food,educating people about Mediterranean food and fresh cheese.

South Florida Food and Wine: It’s yourday off, what do you do for fun?

Hani Khouri: No day off! Goats don’t understandthat. This season I’m planning to start a farm growing fresh tabboulehingredients as well as specializing in hot peppers such as gost pepper and thehotter peppers.

South Florida Food and Wine: What isthe one piece of advice you would offer entrepreneurs starting out today?

HaniKhouri: When Iasked a long time goatherd and dairy producer about going into this business,he said “don’t do it!” Having said that, I did it and love it. Dowhat you want to do if you’re passionate about it and have the skills.

Check outHani’s website, Hani’s MediterraneanOrganics for more information on his products

Clickhere to read previous Spotlight Interviews

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