Shiza Shahid: At Our Place, Everyone Has a Seat Saved at the Table

Our Place

The following post is in partnership with Our Place, a new-age cookware company making products that make cooking and sharing a meal easier and more joyful. Ahead of Diwali, we co-hosted a mela on Melrose Avenue at their new storefront with our friends at Gold House and Cuyana.

Cooking is indefinitely a part of retaining one’s cultural identity. Similarly, cookware is illustrative of the culture in itself. We can quickly relate the wok to Chinese stir fry and karhai to Pakistani chicken salan. In the same way, many of us love a cuppa tandoori chai simmering in a clay pot to take our taste buds back to the streets of Dhaka, Bangladesh. Ingredients are significant to imitate Ma’s special Daal, or lentil, recipe. However, the cookware and tableware used also play an integral role in the savoring of cooking styles. Shiza Shahid, the founder of Our Place, aims to preserve cultural roots and American culture through her pieces.

Take Tahdig, a Persian dessert, for example. The brand introduced a set to make the perfect Tahdig with a ceramic stoneware platter and a pure cotton damkoni to go along with the Always Pan. There is also a Shabbat set, among many others in the Traditionware® collection. The cherry on top? The brand partners with nonprofits, social service organizations, and food banks to support those in need. 

[Read Related: How ‘Mumbai Masala’ Made me Feel Like I’m Home]

Through Our Place, you can even start practicing and celebrating your own traditions if you do not feel like you belong to one specifically — be it cultural or spiritual. Grab a seat and read our Q&A with Shahid about her mission-driven kitchen creations and beyond. 

Our Place

You’ve mentioned your creations are not something that “just happened.” There is an extensive thought process behind the designs. Please take us back to the origins. How did Our Place come about? 

As immigrants, my partner and I literally found our place in America by cooking and sharing food, and inviting new friends to our dinner table. That’s why we founded Our Place — because we believe in the power of home-cooking to bring people together. We spend thousands of hours meticulously designing and crafting each product to actually make cooking easier, and more fun. And we source our products thoughtfully and sustainably, using non-toxic materials that are better for you and the environment. 

When I initially saw the much-loved, viral, multipurpose Always Pan on Instagram, my inner foodie had to browse the website. I must say, right off the bat I knew that the idea behind this ‘brand’ was more than just to provide kitchenware. You create products that amateur cooks, as well as professional chefs, can utilize for Eid, Diwali, and Christmas dinners at home. In what ways do you highlight international traditions in your collections?

Our Traditionware® collections are designed to celebrate and uplift all our traditions, and are always made in partnership with the community from start to finish. We worked with master artisans in Morocco to handcraft a beautiful Tagine, we worked with a collective of indigenous weavers in Oaxaca to create the most beautiful table-runner I’ve ever seen, and we worked with Indian artists to design a Fry Set for all your favorite Diwali fried treats — to name just a few of my favorite Traditionware® products!

Personally, I had never seen my traditions being represented authentically by mainstream brands, and I wanted to change that. When you come to Our Place, you feel seen, and that’s what it’s about. 

Tell us a little about the Malala Fund and its connection to Our Place.

I co-founded the Malala Fund with Malala Yousafzai and her father Ziauddin Yousafzai when I was 22 years old, and served as the founding CEO. In that role, I learned a lot about the power of our voices and stories from Malala, who always had the courage to share her truth. In my role as the cofounder of Our Place, and in my life, I continue to hold those lessons close. 

From online to physical retail in LA, what was the journey like and what prompted this extension?

We always knew we would have physical spaces where our community could cook, shop, gather, and connect. That’s what the Our Place stores are: by and for our community. Just this weekend we co-hosted the first ‘Mela on Melrose’ with Brown Girl Mag, Goldhouse and Cuyana at Our Place on Melrose. It was a beautiful celebration of cultures and traditions.

Our Place
The deep, Turmeric shade of the Diwali Edition set is symbolic of the brightness and vibrancy that the holiday exudes.

What’s your favorite dish to cook on the Always Pan? How about the Perfect Pot?

Always Pan: everything from fried eggs and parathas to chicken karahi and fried rice. Perfect Pot: stews and salans, biryani, cakes, breads, you name it! 

Keeping the tradition(s) alive is indisputably one of the brand’s missions. I chuckled when I saw the description under the Reusable Containers because how true is that? My Nani still wants all of her containers back. How do you hope to preserve such traditions and roots in the upcoming years?

At Our Place, we believe in honoring our passed-down traditions, but also making them our own. I grew up in Pakistan; but before 1947 my homeland would have been the Indian subcontinent. Perhaps, in a time before colonial borders divided us, I would have grown up celebrating Eid, Diwali, Nowruz, and Vaisakhi with my neighbors. Now in Los Angeles, I celebrate all these traditions because my chosen family has people from all faiths, and cultures. That’s what I love about Our Place — it’s about celebrating all our traditions equally, loudly and proudly.

What’s one piece of advice you would give to aspiring female entrepreneurs?

Surround yourself with people who will help you be the best version of yourself, so you can show up for the hard things. Because building something is very hard, and what makes it worth it is the people you do it with, and the mission that drives you.  

[Read Related: We Asked 4 Food Bloggers What Inspires Them to Cook and Here’s What they Said]

The Our Place pan and pot duo are designed to replace eight pieces of traditional cookware. These multifunctional, convenient, and environmentally-friendly pots and pans are not only a way to hold onto one’s cultural roots, but also make life easier on a busy weekday to whip up an easy omelet or two. This is the perfect present for yourself and your loved ones, this holiday season. And not to mention, give back to the communities. Bon appetit! 

Click here to learn more about their in-store locations! 

Photos Courtesy: Anisha Patil

By Shezda Afrin

Shezda Afrin is an aspiring physician from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. At the age of four, it was quite normal of her … Read more ›

5 Indo Caribbean Food Experts you Need to Know This Winter Season

trinidad curry
Curried Chicken with Roti Parata or Roti, popular Middle Eastern/Indian cuisine

It is officially that time of year—the holiday season. There’s nothing like Christmas and New Year’s in the West Indies. Between the pepperpot in Guyana and the palm trees decorated in lights in Trinidad, the home food, warm weather and laid-back ambiance makes us wish we could escape the cold and head back to the Caribbean. Most of us, however, cannot “take holiday” and find ourselves hungry for fresh dhal puri and doubles. But, thanks to these Indo-Caribbean food bloggers, we can bring the motherland to our kitchens.

1. Matthew’s Guyanese Cooking

From Diwali mithai specialties to curry chicken, Matthew is creating a name for himself as a young Guyanese food blogger. He makes a great effort to incorporate Hindu holidays and traditions on his Instagram account, in conjunction with the customary foods and sweets associated with these religious events. However, his expertise does not end there, with new and alternative recipes for classic dishes such as curry chicken and bhara, Matthew takes center stage sharing both traditional Guyanese dishes as well as specific religious dishes made for festivals. His most popular YouTube video, with 1.4 million views, features his grandmother and focuses on the best tips to make the softest Guyanese paratha roti. In addition, his YouTube account is home to many videos offering guidance to Indo Caribbean cooking. Find recipes at

2. Trini Cooking with Natasha

Natasha Laggan of Trini Cooking with Natasha is wildly popular throughout the Caribbean and the U.S. With humble beginnings, Natasha credits her love of food to her family’s business. She speaks of the nostalgia home food provides her as she reminisces memories of her grandmother’s cooking and helping her mother make sandwiches early in the morning. Featured by Forbes, Natasha grew her Facebook following quickly throughout the pandemic by posting old YouTube videos. Today, she has more than 1 million followers on Facebook and over 200K followers on YouTube. She uses her passion for cooking and Trinidadian culture to bring easy-to-follow recipes to viewers. Her following has now reached the West Indian diaspora globally as she has also become a brand ambassador to two well-known food companies.  Follow the food expert @trinicookingwithnatasha.

[Read Related: 5 Indo-Caribbean Recipes for the Holiday Season you Have to Make]

3. Cooking with Ria

With over 100K followers on YouTube, Ria is quite the expert when it comes to making roti. Her dhal puri, sada roti and paratha roti tutorials have over 1M views! However, her expertise does not stop there. Of the 180 YouTube tutorials, her recipes vary from curry to other Trinidadian favorites like macaroni pie and pigtail soup. Just scrolling through her YouTube page makes your mouth water. From doubles to classic Trinidad bakes like pound cake and sweet bread, she provides precision and anecdotal commentary while guiding you through the familiarity of home food. Check out Ria’s page at @cookingwithria.


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4. Chef Devan

Known as Chef Devan, Devan Rajkumar embraces his Guyanese Canadian heritage by creating recipes combining flavors of both the East and West Indies. His love of food has allowed him to expand his role to judge in a popular Canadian cooking show: Food Network Canada’s Fire Masters. His cooking often blends the flavors of multiple cultures but also creates the classic recipes of his motherland. With a multitude of interests, Chef Dev uses his social media platform to connect with followers by sharing various aspects of his life that go beyond cooking. His most recent YouTube video provides a trailer for an upcoming video “Tastes Guyana” which shows him exploring Guyana from the inside, specifically deep parts of the inner country. To learn more about Chef Devan follow @chefdevan.


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5. Taste of Trinbago

Reshmi is the chef behind the growing blog, Taste of Trinbago. A Trinidadian native who now resides in Texas, she uses her love of food and Trinidadian culture to share hacks, tips and easy recipes with West Indians throughout the globe. She finds a way to simplify traditional West Indian meals, that we once watched our elders make with curiosity.  From holiday specialties like black cake to Diwali delicacies, Reshmi has brought vegetarian and non-veg recipes to followers in an extremely accessible way. She even posts recipe cards on her IG highlights for followers who may need written instructions. Her IG profile is a mix of various West Indian foods while also sharing bits of her life and even her secrets to baby food. Follow her @tasteoftrinbago.


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These are just five Indo Caribbean food bloggers sharing their secrets to easy cooking. The once very daunting recipes and food instructions our parents gave have been simplified by most of these bloggers through video, voice over and modernized recipes. We no longer have to estimate a “dash, pinch or tuk” of any masala. We are just days away from Christmas and this is the perfect time to find the best-suited recipe to make that paratha for Santa.

Featured Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

By Subrina Singh

Subrina Singh holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Asian & Asian American Studies from Stony Brook University and a Master’s Degree … Read more ›