When Salim was 9 years old, his family moved from an Italian villa in the Saint Henri suburb of Tunis, to an apartment in the Sicilian quarter. At the same time his father, who was a farmer, was forced to flee the country and the government took over the villa. Overnight, Salim was without a father and the only man in the household.
With two younger sisters, Salim helped his mother prepare their daily meals. Every night, Essia would make meals for the next day and give Salim instructions on how to complete the meal. While his mother worked, Salim and his sisters came home from school for lunch and he would reheat and finish the meals. Over time, Salim was cooking for the family every Sunday. Visiting family during the day, they came home to Salim’s dinner, ready for them. In 1973 the Italians and French left the country overnight. As a teenager, Salim experienced loss again, not only losing his friends, but with them, their cultures that enriched his life.
In that moment he decided not to stay in Tunisia. He didn’t know how he would get out but he knew that he would. And, as luck would have it, he landed a job at 22 with Saudi Arabia Airlines as a flight attendant. Moving to Jedda and then to Athens, where he was stationed for 6 years, he eventually won the green card lottery and moved to the US.
When Salim opened Café Collage, now 22 years ago, he was managing the business and eventually he gravitated toward the kitchen where it felt very natural for him to be, thanks to years with his mother, spending evenings together while she cooked in the kitchen. Little did he know how much he was learning about preparing food and creating flavors or how this experience would, some day, propel his life in a new direction.
After growing up and going to college on the east coast, Anne gravitated to California at the age of 24 where she attended graduate school in Palo Alto and worked as an engineer in California and Alaska for 35 years including long-term projects in Australia, Trinidad, Alaska, Wyoming and Utah.
As a teenager Anne learned to sew, motivated by her desire to replace her “hand-me-down” wardrobe, with something made just for her. She noticed the stack of fabrics sitting idle next to her mother’s sewing machine and asked, if she learned to sew, could she use them. The answer was yes! After her first class, making a skirt, she never looked back, creating college interview suits, high school prom dresses, and everyday clothing. Her career and family life took her away from this first love of sewing but she knew she would return at some point. In 2017, a storage building from the 50’s, on the property of Café Collage and its Inn, became her studio and she has been creating and teaching there since then.
Family Photo with our son Matt who grew up working in the restaurant.