California Woman Vlogs Mediterranian Cuisine

Cynthia Cheng

 

Can a former pre-med turned law student turned real estate broker become a vlogging chef?  Sure!  Denise Hazime, originally from Michigan, moved to Los Angeles a few years ago.  The American born child of immigrant parents from Lebanon, Denise was unable to find decent food from her heritage in LA.  She, therefore, started to make her own dishes.  Her new friends were asking for recipes whenever she made tabouli or humuus.  At the same time, Time Magazine’s Person of the Year was “You.”  At the suggestion of her husband, she started to film herself cooking and then upload the videos on YouTube, just to see how well-received it would be.  Denise also has a website, called dedemed.com, where many of the YouTube videos can be found. 

The videos and website turned out to be very successful.  In fact, recently, Denise and her site, DedeMed were profiled by the Wall Street Journal.  While speaking with journalist, Tamara Audi at her shawrama stand in Camp Pendelton, a Marine base near San Diego.  Opened for just a couple of months, the stand attracted its first customers in just minutes.  It is the first Arabic food stand on the base, adding to the diverse cuisines already available.  She is also opening a restaurant in the Los Angeles area.

Many of Denise’s recipes are what she considers Mediterranean Americana, mostly Mediterranean, but with some American influences to entice the US palate.  Denise’s favourites include humuus, falafel and garlic videos.  General feedback she gets from the videos include how fans love the recipes and how they’ve shared it with friends and family.  The positive notes make her feel good and that her work on those videos were worthwhile.

Denise on her influences:

My influences are my mother for her great cooking skills and for all that she has taught me; my dad for teaching me to always work hard and by showing me that he always worked hard; my husband for teaching me so much about the internet world and all the wonderful things that you can do with it; and last but not least Chef John Smith, the frugal gourmet, for his cooking skills and his wonderful camera presence. I used to watch him as a kid and love how easy it was to learn to cook by the way he taught the audience and spoke to the camera,  I always felt like he was in my living room.

On challenges she’s faced since she launched Dedemed.com:

We faced so many options, the biggest being money to keep the site and new videos going, but we put it all on the line b/c we believe in DedeMed and people /fans love the site and the recipes so we’re hoping it just keeps growing.

On where she’d like to see her site go in the next five or 10 years:

I hope that in 5 years DedeMed will have her own line of products.  She will be the source for Mediterranean/Middle Eastern cooking and she will be able to bring it to everyone as a healthy alternative to just salad and chicken breast.  DedeMed will have her own chain of healthy fast food restaurants, where people can eat affordably and healthy.

On work-life balance:

Unfortunately sometimes work takes over my personal life right now.  I have had to take a step back from my personal life and from starting a family to keep DedeMed going right now.  I just feel like the momentum is speeding up and I can’t stop now.  It’s a choice that I gladly make b/c I know down the road there will be plenty of time.

Tips for food vloggers and bloggers:

Just do it!  If it’s what you love then do it.  Believe in what you like and always have a purpose in helping people.  When you work to help others then good will come to you.