As an interior design graduate, Salam's true passion lies in making food, particularly Italian cuisine and desserts, She started experimenting with pancakes and other sweets at a very young age, With little direction as to what to select as a university major, and a few options available in her area, she chose interior design as a major, which she doesn't like, "I chose it because I was lost", says Salam, "yet cooking is my blood, I smile every time I think about making food".
Like many youth her age, Salam was feeling stuck and depressed because of the country's economic situation, but her friend Nagham insisted she register to the Generation of Innovation Leaders, GIL program through Nawaya, despite her many objections.
"I remember calling reluctantly and learning that registration was closed and the class was complete, but someone dropped out at the very last minute and I had my spot! Some things happen for a reason".
With a more open attitude, and through the training, Salam managed to study the market in her region, determine the products she would sell as well as pricing and marketing them,On graduation day, Salam pitched her pasta restaurant concept which was accepted, She then went on to receive further coaching and seed funding to cover some of the equipment she would use for the restauran, Added to a small initial fund she would put forward, this would inch her towards making her dream come true and starting a cozy pasta restaurant in her town.
With the COVID19 crisis now, Salam's put her initial project on hold and has decided to collaborate with an existing pizza joint, مطبخ سوسن to test a few dishes of her own making out as of Sunday, June 28, 2020.
As for COVID19 precautions, they'll be focusing on delivery and outdoor seating, near a popular market, Her plan is to add 5 pasta dishes to the menu, as well as some sandwiches and crepes, test them out for a month to learn what's working best and what she'll want to improve.
When asked about her achievements, Salam proudly recalls being selected to cater to the Hakaya GIL event in Saida.
When asked about the risks of trying her project out in this climate, Salam simply says: "I owe it to myself to try, it's better than listening to the news 24/7 and getting depressed.
I look after my mental health by being around people I love and who love me back like my fiance, my mum, and my friend Nagham.
Even if I fail, it doesn't matter, so long as I love what I'm doing, I'll learn".
When asked about the effects of lockdown, Salam laughs and says it was a much-needed break from the pressure of daily life, she spent her time cycling or in nature.
Salam is part of the Generation of Innovation Leaders program, GIL, powered by UNICEF Lebanon and Funded by the Government of the Netherlands and The Andan Foundation.