Rising Star Chef Ham & Sohla El-Waylly of Hail Mary - Biography

Brooklyn, NY

January 2017

Long before they were married chefs and business partners, Ham El-Waylly and Sohla Muzib’s lives were intertwined with food and restaurants—it was all in the family. American-born Sohla was raised by her Bengali parents in Los Angeles, where a Baskin Robbins was the family business. Meanwhile, 8,000 miles away in Qatar, Ham was growing up as an ad-hoc secretary, firing off  emails and doing random tasks for his Egyptian father, who ran a chain of Mongolian grills and imported Western food products. Ham’s first real job was at a shawarma stand in Doha, and though he had chef-y aspirations, he first had to satisfy parental expectations and earn a college degree—like a good Bolivian son (his mother is from Bolivia). After moving to Piscataway, New Jersey, and graduating from Middlesex Community College with an associate degree in business, Ham enrolled at the Culinary Institute of America.

Back in L.A., Sohla had started to work for another chain, Outback Steak. She too had kitchen ambitions, but after knocking on doors throughout the city’s more formidable establishments and being continually refused a chance to stage, she finally decided to enroll at the CIA in 2008, where she met Ham. Only after that did the kitchens of Del Posto and Atera open up to Sohla. Ham was making the rounds in New York City, as well, having staged at wd~50 and cooked at Corton. He and Sohla then spent four years at Empellon with mentor Alex Stupak.

In 2016, the couple opened Hail Mary in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, where Americana fuses with their formal training and international influences. Sohla is all business and pastry, even returning to her ice cream roots, and on the savory side Ham delves deep into his culinary heritage and their mutual love for the American diner.