More About the Author
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Reyna Simnegar was born in Caracas, Venezuela. Her family history dates back to the Spanish Inquisition when her family fled from Spain changing their last name and living as hidden Jews for centuries. Reyna grew up Catholic but inspired by her family heritage, converted to Judaism.
In her teenage years Reyna ventured in the world of modeling, advertizing and beauty pageants. She was featured in several television ads, especially toothpaste adds! She also modeled for several catalogs including La Perla. She enrolled in the Miss Venezuela beauty pageant to later be disqualified for being 3 inches too short! She enrolled in Venezuela's Universidad Metropolitana to pursue a degree in Chemical Engineering.
Tired of being the only girl in class and having to bat-her-lashes to get good grades, Reyna moved to the United States in 1995 to pursue two dreams: becoming an interior designer and a Jew! She enrolled in UCLA and got a job in Taco Bell on campus. It was in Taco Bell where she met an unsatisfied customer that later became her destined life-partner.
When her future husband moved to New York City to attend graduate school, Reyna moved there to be closer to him. However, before Reyna left Los Angeles, Sammy's mother, who was afraid Sammy would starve in New York without authentic Persian food, hosted her for a week and taught her the intimate secrets of Persian cuisine so she could cook for Sammy. (This was a super investment for Sammy's mom, because it obviated the need to FedEx frozen Persian food to New York!)
In New York, Reyna pursued a career in advertising, studying at the Fashion Institute of Technology. She lived across the street from the restaurant made famous on Seinfeld, and practiced her Persian recipes on friends, with great success.
Although Reyna started her personal quest toward becoming a religious Jew after discovering her family were Anusim (Marranos, or Crypto Jews) at the young age of 12, it was not until much later, while living in New York, that she was finally able to realize her dream of living the spiritual life she had always aspired to live. At the same time, Sammy (obviously inspired by...ahem...Reyna) started a personal spiritual quest of his own. Just like in a Hollywood movie--only this time it happened in Manhattan--they both became religious Jews, walking different paths but dancing to the same tune and toward the same goal: Truth. In the end, that was really the beginning, against all odds and in spite of the tribulations of being from two completely different cultures, they married according to the laws of the Torah, and managed to stay alive to be able to tell you about it!
Reyna is the author of "Persian Food from the Non-Persian Bride" (Feldheim, 2011) He recipes are lavish, rich, and enticing; the photographs are divine; the details in this cookbook make it magnificent; Persian calligraphy graces each page, along with Reyna's personal anecdotes about integrating into a Persian family. Whether you hail from Iran, Indiana, Israel, or anywhere around the globe, this cookbook is a must! She has appeared in several TV appearances nationwide including ABC and NBC networks. She also has her own YouTube channel and Blog.
Her hobbies include preparing and cooking for Shabbat and entertaining guests. She also looks forward to performing makeovers on her friends, decorating their homes without charge, teaching cooking and inspirational classes for women through Aish Boston and Chabad.
She is very happily married and lives with her wonderful husband and five lively boys in Brookline, MA. And by the way, she did earn her Bachelors Degree in International Management and Economics--with honors--from the University of Massachusetts.