URC Profile

Denise Hazime

Title: President & Co-founder
Company: DeDeMed—Dede’s Mediterranean Kitchen
Year started: 2007
Industry: Food Instruction
Offices: Irvine, Calif.
Activity: Online Mediterranean food recipes and videotaped cooking instruction.
Annual Revenue: Undisclosed
Employees: 2
Attended: Wayne State University
Degree: B.A., History, 2003
Company website: dedemed.com

“We heavily monitor comments because we want to keep politics and religion out of it—it’s about the food. Regardless of where you’re from, this is food people can enjoy.”

hazimeIn 2010, the Wall Street Journal dubbed Denise Hazime “Queen of the chickpea spread called hummus.” And no wonder. Hazime’s interactive video instruction on how to make the popular spread has become the No. 1 hummus recipe video on YouTube, with more than 700,000 views. Far more than just the queen of hummus, Denise has become the queen of online cooking instruction videos.

Growing up in a large Lebanese family in Dearborn, MI, Denise learned from her mother how to make the family’s traditional Mediterranean and Middle East cuisine. She had dreams of pursuing a culinary career, but it was expected that she would go into medicine, law or engineering. So Hazime went to Wayne State University as a pre-med student, but switched tracks when she became enamored with history. She earned her undergraduate degree in 2004, followed by two years of law school at University of Detroit-Mercy. She moved to California in 2006 to join her husband, then a Marine.

That year, Time Magazine’s Person of the Year was a mirror, representing the online video website, YouTube. Her husband, a tech-savvy entrepreneur who develops applications for Google products, suggested she should create videos to show people how to make the dishes their friends were constantly asking her to cook. A University of Southern California student studying video production shot the first three instructional videos, and her husband put them online. Viewers quickly responded to Denise’s personable, easy and straightforward explanations, and requests poured in for more.

Denise launched her website and YouTube channel in 2007 with hopes of sharing her knowledge of Mediterranean cooking with others who wanted to learn to cook the food they love, eat healthier and get back in touch with their cultural roots.

“I don’t believe in charging for the information—information should be free. You have to give a little to get back.”

As popular as the DeDeMed website was, it took a long time before Denise started seeing a profit from its online advertisements. The site earned 17 cents in its first month, $1.08 in its second, then $16.

But as she put more content online, her profits increased exponentially. A lot of that growth came from adding her own spice line and cooking tools to sell through her website. Denise also is working increase her exposure to a broader audience by bundling her videos with other complimentary programs on YouTube, as well as a soon-to-be published cookbook and mobile application.

Photo credit: Courtesy OC Metro Magazine