Mayumi Tonks [left] and Christy Kabbani, a Naperville resident who launched healthy food eatery three years ago. Kabbani learned cooking from living in Morocco as a kid as well as from traveling the world with her dad. | Photo by david sharos for sun-times media
Updated: May 17, 2013 1:32PM
Naperville business owner Christy Kabbani has a vision as well as a sense of timing that seems to defy traditional viewpoints — which is what makes her story about herself and her business Two Mothers Foods even more charming.
The 38-year-old mother of four boys hails from Woodstock, New York — yes, that Woodstock that featured the famous music festival back in 1969.
“I was from that actual town and my parents had an aroma therapy store there,” Kabanni recalled. “I went to college at the State University of New York and graduated with a degree in art history back in 1995. Even though I wasn’t even born then, people still talk about the music festival there.”
Kabanni soon was busy as a stay-at-home mom and never really jumped into the working world until 2009 when she started a private catering business. Her culinary training makes her story even better as she was able to experience some hands-on training few experience in their lives.
“I was always passionate as a mother about feeding my children well, and that is why when I went to work, it had to be something connected with food,” she said. “My parents’ business meant that I lived in Tangiers, Morocco, at least part of the year from the time I was 3 years old until I was about 16, and I wound up learning a lot of recipes based on Mediterranean cooking from friends who were female chefs.”
Other dishes are influenced by Kabbani’s once-in-a-lifetime experience as a world traveler, thanks to her dad who moved up the ranks in his company from salesman to CEO.
“We took two months off of school and my mom and my sister and I traveled with my dad literally all over the world,” she said. “We started in New York and eventually visited France, Egypt, India, Hong Kong, Thailand, and then made our way back to California. I got to taste a lot of authentic food.”
Naperville resident Jill Mizen, 46, met Kabbani in her store which opened here in Naperville in July 2010. Mizen said her need to connect with people made her want to volunteer at the store and that she is amazed at Kabbani’s skill in making delicious meals out of products that confound most people.
“I’ll go to ‘Trader Joe’s’ or ‘Whole Foods’ and see all these products on the shelves that are supposed to be healthy and good for you and nobody in my house will eat them,” Mizen said. “Christy grabs on to these regular recipes and takes something like eggplant parmesan and turns it into something healthy and delicious.”
Mizen raves about the Wednesday “Dinner Tonight” program at Two Mothers Foods, which features a specially prepared meal with entre, side dish and dessert for four people, all for just $28. Kabbani also said she offers catering services for weddings, birthday parties, custom meals for women that are pregnant, new mothers, and more.
“I have two accounts with schools, including the Four Winds Waldorf School in Warrenville and the Naperville Christian Academy,” she said. “There are also regulars that come in here that have their favorites.”
Soups, Kabbani said, are among the popular choices for clients, as well as “vegan sweets” that contain no animal products.
One option is the popular “black bean brownies” that use the beans as a binding agent.
“We also make a vegan puff which is kind of like a calzone that has sprouted wheat dough filled with chick peas, greens, onions, and spices,” Kabbani said.
Kabbani’s “world cuisine” has been augmented even more by Aurora resident Mayumi Tonks, who works as a chef at Two Mothers Foods and brings her Japanese and Asian influence to the menu.
“We’re both very passionate about healthy cooking and I truly believe this is the direction people need to take with their lives,” Kabbani said. “I feel what we offer is something unique and different and that a lot of illnesses people get come from what they eat. Having food that’s alive and nutritious just makes you feel better.”