Interview with Carol Salloum, Owner & Manager of Almond Bar

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13th May marks International Hummus Day! Did you know that the word ‘hummus’ literally means chickpeas in Arabic? 

The Team at Caitre’d think there’s no better way than to to celebrate International Hummus Day than to shine a spotlight on one of our longest-standing caterers, Almond Bar.

Almond Bar is a restaurant located at 379 Liverpool Street, in Darlinghurst, NSW, run by sister duo, Carol and Sharon Solloum, with a helping hand from their parents.

Previously a high school mathematics teacher, Carol made her dream of owning her own business a reality. Following almost 4 years of meticulous research and preparation, Almond Bar first opened its doors in 2007.

The restaurant has won a string of awards over the years, including being 3 times winners of the I Love FOOD Awards as Australia’s Favourite Middle Eastern.

Carol shares with us the magic behind Almond Bar, some of her loved recipes and top business tips:

Q. What sparked the dream to open up a restaurant? I was always watching how Middle Eastern food was not respected and was just seen as the end of a big night kebab, hummus and tabouleh. I wanted to educate society and make sure everyone understood the value of Middle Eastern cuisine. Mum was a great cook and so was Sharon, so I asked them to be involved.

Q. Tell us about the food and flavours of the Middle Eastern dishes you serve? We serve both traditional & modern Middle Eastern dishes. We try to use as much of the traditional ingredients as possible in the modern dishes. We want to stay true to the flavours of our food. A lot of the time we test that on our parents and see what they think. Other times we just believe the combinations work well. We like our customers to get to choose whether they want traditional, modern or both.

Q. Does your hummus recipe follow a traditional recipe, or have you added a twist? It’s very traditional, it’s the one our Mum made… chickpeas, tahini, garlic, lemon, water and salt. We soak the chickpeas over night, cook them and grind them down. Mum does all of that and it’s made from scratch. We only use fresh chickpeas. You can definitely taste the difference between canned chickpea hummus and one that’s made from scratch. We do have a chilli hummus, which is our own twist, and people love that one, as it gives a bit of a kick.

Q. If I was organising a networking event for 50+ people what would you recommend I order and why? Our finger food, the most popular being the sambusic, the homemade pastry and inside there’s lamb, pine nuts and onion. The pastry itself is very popular and very tasty. It’s got an ingredient in it called Mahleb (an aromatic spice) which gives it a beautiful flavour. Falafel and vegetarian vine leaves are great people-pleasers too. The vine leaves are actually grown in Mum & Dad’s backyard and Mum makes those herself. For the meat eaters, mini lamb skewers and chicken skewers are very tasty, tender and easy-to-eat so they work well for people standing up and moving around. It’s different to the usual canapés at functions. The food tastes as if you’re sitting in a restaurant even though you’re not.

Q. What are the best lessons you’ve learnt that you are able to share with others who have their own business? To be resilient, understand that you’re not going to make everyone happy and do what you can. Offer the best thing you could offer and go from there. Just know you’ve done your best.

We used to panic in quiet periods, but now we just know that it’s a part of the pattern and flow of having a business.

At the end of the day, if you have good staff and you’re good to your staff, reap the benefits of that. We’ve been very, very lucky with our staff and we feel blessed.

Q. Can you tell us about the Syrian refugee program that you’ve begun? The project is called Ahlan, which means “Welcome” in Arabic. Our job is to help transition, train and place Syrian refugees who either have hospitality experience or are interested in hospitality.

Q. What are you most proud of in your career? There are a lot of things we’re proud of, but this industry is a very tough industry. What we’re most proud of is that neither of us came from hospitality and that we have accomplished what we set out to achieve. We’re able to just be genuinely hospitable. In our culture hospitality is huge, if someone turns up at your home unannounced, you make them feel part of the family… you offer food, servings of drinks and they are made to feel welcome. This is what we try to do in our restaurant.


Feeling inspired to bring the award-winning taste of Almond Bar in-house for your next corporate event or function? Click here for their online menu. Need further recommendations. We’re “at your service” – send us an enquiry.

Almond Bar also welcomes you to their restaurant. An evening meal on Mother’s Day, 14th May, (in case you don’t already have it in the diary) could be a perfect excuse you need. Every Mum that visits that day will be given a small jar of their signature almonds.

Almond Bar is also open for breakfast every first Sunday of each month (booking is recommended).

Last but not least, look out for the Big Syrian BBQ that’s next due to be hosted in September & October. Caitre’d will keep you informed about the dates – perfect for a team building outing if you’re looking for something off-site.


5 Must Haves to Throw an Award Winning Melbourne Cup Office Party

Melbourne Cup is coming up quickly. How is your office going to celebrate this year? Here are the 5 must haves to throw a legendary Melbourne Cup party in your office.
  1. TV- a big screen TV and a big meeting area is necessary so that everyone can watch the race. Make sure to find the correct channel before the event so you will not miss the race at 3pm.
  2. FOOD- no party is complete without finger foods and canapés. Keep the food simple yet chic. Sliders, dips, and finger foods are great options. Make sure you have a lot of food to go around, since everyone will be hanging around all afternoon to watch the races. Caitre’d has got you covered – check out these cheese platters from Delisse Cafe or some hot spring rolls from Steel Bar.
  3. GAMES- if you are having office sweepstakes make sure that they go around in the morning. Other party games you can play are pin the tail on the horse, horseshoe quits, or trivia.
  4. DECORATIONS- if you can’t go to the track, then bring the track to your office. Have everyone wear his or her craziest race hat.
  5. ALCOHOL– Pop the bubbly for the winner (only if your boss is OK with it, of course) but provide plenty of non-alcoholic beverages to keep everyone hydrated, and top up the snack table just in case the team needs extra nibbles to soak up that bubbly!

“May the odds be ever in your favor.”

3 Reasons Why Eating Lunch With Co-workers is Beneficial

What sounds more appealing: eating your leftover salad from last night while scrolling through Facebook, or chatting with Sally from marketing about your weekend while you share a catered meal?  You won’t believe the 3 reasons why you should eat lunch with your co-workers.

  1. Promotes team bonding– having the entire office meet at lunch allows you to talk with people from different departments.  Talking to new people will not only help you network in house, but it is also a great way to gain a new perspective. Take this time to exchange ideas and solutions to company problems.
  2. Breaks down formal barriers of the office– eating together allows everyone to sit down and connect on a personal level. No matter if it is the CEO or the new intern, everyone can socialize on the same level at a lunch event. Not only do you get to meet new people, but you also have the opportunity to build relationships outside of the office. (And who doesn’t want more friends?)
  3. Helps keep stress levels down– friendships formed at work are proven to be some of the most powerful relationships in our lives. It is important to have someone to talk to in a stressful environment. Having someone to talk will genuinely make you happier, and make getting through the workday a lot easier (promoting productivity).

Believe it or not, tasty, pretty food will allow for better conversation. No one will give more than a comment about a soggy sandwich, but everyone will love talking about Wednesday’s taco tray

Where Do I Start When Ordering Corporate Catering?

“At your service”

Between phone calls, meetings, emails, and everything else thrown at you, you were just asked to set up the catering for the next board meeting. What is one to do? Where do you start?

Have no fear: you can do this. (Deep breaths…) By following these simple tips, you could be organising the best office event ever in no time. Here you’ll find a list of the important factors that go into ordering corporate catering. We know there are so many things to consider when organising catering – it’s hard to think of them all. Use the below list and any good caterer should be able to help you – no worries.



We understand that changes on the day of the event are hard. Also, planning too far in advance is also difficult because things may change a couple hundred times. Here are some time saving tips when booking catering for your event. For large events, set up your catering early (5-7 days). This will help make sure caterers are available for your event and can fulfill your order.  For your daily meetings and lunches, catering should be set up 24-48 hours before the event. That way you don’t have to worry about the details changing.

(About) how many people

The amount of food you order can get very tricky – it all depends on the time of day, how many drinks they’ve had, the meals they’ve eaten before they’ve come to your event – this list goes on. The more the caterer knows about the event (including about how many people are attending) the better the options they propose will be when it comes to how much food to order. It’s always a good idea to order just a bit extra – you never know if people are extra hungry that day (maybe it was weights day at the gym?)


You were given a budget, and it’s important you stick to that budget. You may want to set a capped budget for each person attending. For example, if you were planning a lunch you may allocate $12 per person. If you need some help, follow these general guidelines:

  1. Breakfast/Morning Tea/Afternoon Tea: a fruit cup, muffin, or egg slider is about  $5 each, and people usually eat 2-3 items.
  2. Lunch: a typical lunch is about $10 for a sandwich, and about $15 for a larger meal.  Buffets are also a great option, but can be messy to serve, and remember that an open setting allows people to go up for seconds or thirds.
  3. Finger food / networking:  canapés are anywhere $2-$4 per item or more, and the average person helps themselves to 3-5 pieces per hour.  

Type of event

The type of event can dictate what serving option will work best.


  1. BuffetBuffets are good for socialising events, allowing  people to get up and mingle while getting food.  They are not ideal for events with a presentation or speaker, because people will constantly be a distraction when getting up for food.
  2. Lunch BoxesLunch boxes are quick and easy way  to pass out food to large groups. They are also carry friendly if your event is on the move. Plus, it’s fun to get a packed lunch (especially when it tastes good).
  3. PlattersPlatters allow for there to be a  variety of food options.  Place a platter in the middle of the table, where everyone can reach and to choose what they want.
  4. Finger foodsFinger foods are best for workshops and seminars where people can grab food as they work. Also, it is ideal for cocktail events.

Variety of foods

Are you feeling inspired to toss the boring boardroom sandwiches and add a little flair to everyone’s workday? There are so many options to consider, Vietnamese, Mexican, Middle Eastern, to name a few. Speak with your caterer to explore all the options.

Dietary Requirements

It is important to make note of any dietary requirements in the office (gluten free, vegetarian, vegan etc.)  Caterers have options for all these requirements, but it is important to take note of them. Sending out a survey on the RSVP to all your attendees via email or person is the easiest way to make sure all dietary needs are accounted for.

These simple steps will help you set up catering in no time (and that’s one less thing  on your “to do” list).

Curbing Office Munchies: Seven Snacks You Should be Bringing to Work

You’ve arrived to work and spent the last two hours actually getting work done. Basking in the glory of your self-discipline, you realise however that it’s 11-something a.m and your body is crying for a snack.

It may be that emergency chocolate bar, or perhaps that entire tray of biscuits in the break room (who even puts those there…) calling your name. Regardless, productivity levels are plummeting and it’s time to make a judgment call.

Photo 6-11-2015, 1 02 43 PM.jpgKnuckles Sandwich Bar 

As worrisome as that morning or afternoon snack attack may feel, getting the office munchies doesn’t have to mean blowing your self professed ‘my body is a temple’ mantra. Here at You Chews we have created a list our top seven office snacks that will keep you firing on all cylinders.

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Myth Bustin’ with You Chews

Are those nasty little food myths you’ve been hearing holding you back from enjoying the foods you really like? Let’s see if we can sort out some of these food facts from these food fictions.  

1. White chocolate is chocolate
It turns out the creamy oh-so-sweet white chocolate is in fact not actually chocolate! It only contains cocoa butter not actual cocoa, which means it doesn’t reap the same benefits as chocolate does: such as the anti-ageing antioxidants (besides tasting super delicious!)

Verdict: BUSTED! White chocolate is NOT real chocolate.

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Motivated by Mouth

Author: Damien


Let’s do a thought experiment:

Aggregate all the seconds, minutes, and (god forbid) hours, you spend throughout a day in the office pining over pastries from the new café down the road, or carbonara from that classic Italian joint, or the weekend brunch that’s ever-approaching on the horizon. Take that sum and multiply it by the number of days you work in a week, a month, a year.

It becomes crystal clear, food affects your productivity in the workplace.

Just look at these cronuts…how could you possibly concentrate with these on your mind??

Two rows of delicious looking Cronuts in a display case from Newtown Brewtown.

Crounts from Newtown Brewtown.

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6 Common Dietary Restrictions De-Mystified

We have all been there: You are in charge of the food for your next office get together, stressful yes, but you know just the place to order from. Everyone is gonna love the food because you know how awesome it is.

But then you remember about your new co-worker who said they have a special diet. What did they say again? Paleo, celiac, vegan… what does it all mean anyway!?

We are here to help.

There are many different types of dietary requirements out there, and when you are responsible for providing them with food it can be overwhelming. The first step is to understand what each of these diets entails.

We have brought you the definitive guide to 6 common dietary restrictions. We explain what they mean and how to handle them like a pro when catering your next office event.

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