Five questions for… Hemela Pourafzal – Queen of Byblos

Questions Hemela

March 8 marked International Women’s Day. Tastet would like to highlight the invaluable contribution of women to Quebec society, both in the restaurant industry and in other sectors. All this week, as part of our series of articles “5 questions for…”, we are going to meet women who inspire us. Whether they are restaurateurs, chefs, artistic personalities, or professional athletes, we are always delighted to learn more about these women who brighten our daily lives. These wonderful encounters spark an enthusiasm in us that we naturally want to share with our readers. We invite you to discover some of Tastet’s favourite women with a few playful Q&A’s.

Today, we ask our questions to the Persian queen of Byblos, Hemela Pourafzal. In business for over 31 years, Hemela has won the hearts of her customers with her comforting cuisine, her unique restaurant, and her undeniable charm. This woman of strong character has left her mark on the Montreal restaurant industry and has greatly contributed to its diversity. Hemela is an exceptional hostess who has been welcoming many artists to her cafe for many years. Byblos has become a beloved meeting place for Montrealers and we can thank Hemela for making this possible.

Here are the questions we asked Hemela.

Who would you most like to cook for?
Roger Federer. My idol!

Your guilty pleasure?
Grilled rice, tahdig. It’s rice grilled in the bottom of the pan or rice fried in the pan with ragoût sauce. I take the sauce and eat it all.

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
In Canada, in Montreal. I wouldn’t move. I like where I am. I don’t dream of anywhere else, I’m fine where I am.

If you didn’t have a restaurant, what would you do?
I’ve always dreamed of being a restaurateur. It’s what I like.

What are a few of your hobbies?
Tennis and golf.

What is your favourite book?
The Thousand and One Nights.

This or that

Butter or margarine?
“Butter, always butter.”

Sweet or savoury?
“Sweet; in fact I really like patisserie.”

Thanks to Hemela for answering our questions!

To learn more about other favourite personalities from Tastet, check out our five questions with Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, Gabriella Kinté Garbeau, Paul Toussaint, Camilo Lapointe-Nascimento and Nicolas Ouellet.

Photography by Alison Slattery

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