Donia Bijan is a San Francisco Bay Area chef who left Iran in 1978 when her parents’ lives were threatened by the Islamic Revolution. Fearing for her mother’s safety, an outspoken women’s rights advocate and former member of parliament, her family settled in the Bay Area and was advised not to return to Iran.
After graduating from UC Berkeley in 1984, Donia went to Paris to attend the Cordon Bleu. Determined to pursue a culinary career, she secured apprenticeships in France’s three star kitchens before returning to San Francisco to preside over many of the city’s acclaimed restaurants and earning awards for her French inspired cuisine. In 1994 she realized her dream of opening of her own restaurant, L’Amie Donia, a celebrated French bistro in Palo Alto, California.
Since closing her restaurant in 2004, Ms. Bijan has divided her days between raising her son, catering, and writing a memoir where she reimagines her passion for cooking as a vessel to travel back and forth between the kitchens of her childhood and the formal kitchens of her training, illuminating the experience of exile, and drawing from her Persian, French and American pantry to thread ties between cultures.