We had the good fortune of connecting with Ammaar Jamal and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Ammaar, where are your from? We’d love to hear about how your background has played a role in who you are today?
My name is Ammaar Jamal. I was born in Los Angeles, CA on July 14th 1993. I have a younger brother who was born and raised in Houston, TX. My parents are from Pakistan. My dad immigrated here in the late 70’s. Whereas my mom immigrated here in the early 90’s. Growing up in an immigrant household is exactly what you would expect. It comes with the emphasis of hard work, education, and a sense of social responsibility. That mindset gets rooted in you at a very young age. I truly believe that the clashing of cultures was something that I feel benefited me and my brother growing up. It was two worlds colliding. The freedoms that me and my brother experienced growing up was very contrasted compared to my parents. I believe that is the reasons why I grew up to be the person I am today.
I believe my freedom was through food, art, and expression.
Growing up food was my first love. I was always in the kitchen. Observing, and learning. Everything from the sights, smells, and taste. It sets in your mind like a memory. The imprint that a certain smell or taste; could take you back to where you first had that sensation. Food is a way to connect people. That was one of the many reasons I started a food page by the name of EatsByHouston; on Instagram and Tik-Tok. I started this page for the sole purpose of portraying what I thought the world should see. People can enjoy, and witness food through my eyes.
We grew up in a middle class family. My father worked, and my mother was a stay-at-home mom. Not only was education the front and foremost push, but it was the sole thing my parents emphasized growing up. Everything else came after. The belief system behind that process was; the struggles that they faced is something they never wanted me or my brother to experience in our lives. Looking back now, I’m thankful for all the sacrifices my parents made in order for us to be successful. And this is a core quality I believe that lies with most immigrant families; Perseverance.
“You can achieve anything you want in this life, why limit yourself to just one thing” – My consciousness.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I am really proud of the fact that I graduated from the University of Houston with a Bachelors Degree in Education from the University of Houston in May of 2020. I am blessed to say that I am a full-time teacher at Spring ISD. I am also in the process of starting my Masters Degree in Administration and Supervision from the University of Houston come Summer 2022.
This journey began as an idea. This idea stemmed with my love for exploring, learning, and growing. I think that’s what life is about. Learning to grow; ever changing. To live life, is to go through experiences, and hardships. That’s what makes you a specific person. While in college there was something in the back of my mind of always wanting to learn, and share my views with the world. I think that’s what drove me to become a teacher, but also drove to start my food page.
I have 2 passions in this world. Teaching, and food. I love the creative nature with which I can tie both of them to one aspect. There are a lot of similarities.
I’ve always had this passion for food, but I never knew what to do with my knowledge of it. So me and my friend were at this restaurant for dinner. And the conversation struck up of how much detail I was talking about this dish in front of me. The taste, the beauty of how it appeared on my plate, the sourcing of the ingredients. And she said, if you’re passionate about it. ” Share it”. That’s where it began.
So I went home, and started an Instagram page called EatsByHouston. I started this in the August of 2021 with no hopes of getting famous or anything. But to share what I see on my plate. To me, food is art. And being in one of the food capitals in the world, it was perfect!
Like anything, there are always challenges with when you start something. In this case, I had the knowledge of what food meant to me; but to portray it so that other people saw what I saw was challenging. I saw what other creators were doing, I watched some YouTube videos on how take photos of food, and also how to engage your userbase. So it was definitely a journey of understanding the approach.
My goal as EatsByHouston is to share my food experiences with the world. Whether it’s something as simple as eating salad, or as complex as a dinner from a Michelin star restaurant. I want people to understand that food has range. The diversity of cultures, and inclusivity that food brings to people from all over the world has a place here in Houston, TX. Food brings people together. It’s a celebration. It is an experience that not only creates conversation, but it strengthens cross-cultural relationships. Food is an art form. And here at EatsByHouston; I’m just trying to get people to experience that art form to best of my ability.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
The city of Houston, TX has so much to offer. There are so many things to do in Houston. Everything from food, location, and experiences; there’s a lot to do! So if I had anyone come over we would start the mornings with a cup of coffee from The Coffeehouse at West End in the Heights. Or Boomtown Coffee also located in the Heights. After that, we could take Citi bikes and cruise around Buffalo Bayou park for some of the most incredible views of the city. The park is about 160 acres running through the city. It includes trails, dog parks, and art structures within the park. We would easily spend a whole day in the Museum District. Personally, going to the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston is an experience in itself. The calm, serene entity that the Museum offers is incredible.
It is definitely one of the greatest cultural attractions that Houston has to offer. I graduated from the University of Houston, but I will admit, the walk through Rice University is incredible. The campus itself is beautiful. Day or night. There’s countless other places all across Houston, and they are incredible. Personally, these attractions is what makes Houston special to me.
Food what drives me. My favorite place to grab, lunch, dinner or drinks is the one and only La Lucha located in the Heights. I love the service, the chef driven menu, and most importantly the food. When incredible food meets incredible people; its a match made in heaven! New to Houston, which is going to change the dynamic of Food Halls in my opinion is the recently opened POST. Not only is it a mix of cultures from all over the world, it showcases the best food Houston has to offer. Whether you’re in the mood for a full service Omakase from East Side King, or you want to experience South American cuisine from Andes Café; all of it is available in one confined location. It truly is a step forward for Houston food scene. Another location of something incredible is Railway Heights Market. It’s an institution in Houston. Incredible food focused on specialties from all over the world. Creating a food scene focused on food from all over the world, and catering it to people to try new things is something I love about Houston. There are so many places that are just delicious. Some of the best Thai food I’ve had in Houston, is part of a supermarket. A small 8 table restaurant that serves the most authentic Thai I’ve ever had in my life. It’s called Street Food Thai Market. Its delicious!
There’s so much to do, and eat in Houston. I am proud to show a small glimpse of what that’s like on my food page.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I want to give a huge shout out to my parents. They provided me with everything I need on order to be successful. And that is something I will be thankful for everyday. I feel like, when you grow older you start to think back at what life was like growing up. And maybe as a kid you didn’t quite understand why things were the way they were. But you realize your parents did the best they could with what they had. And for that I am thankful.
My love for food came from my mom. She is a fantastic cook! Growing up I was always in the kitchen. Not only was I helping her in the kitchen, but I would also help her taste test dishes. I truly believe that’s where my palate grew. My love for food goes hand in had with the memories I had from the smells, tastes, and experiences I had in the kitchen. I always imagine in another life, I would definitely be a chef! So shout out to Mom! I love you!