By Bob Irvine
Many residents of the Glebe have met Zenah Surani, owner-pharmacist of the Glebe Apothecary. I recently got the chance to find out more about her in an email interview for the Glebe Report.
Tell me about your background.
I was born and raised in Ottawa. My parents are from East Africa (Uganda) and I am of Indian (Gujarati) origin. In 2008, I received a B.A. in Economics (with a minor in Finance) from McGill University. In 2012, I completed a Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy from the University of Toronto. At that time, I also became a member of the Ontario College of Pharmacists. In 2022, I completed an Executive MBA – while managing my store – from the Ivey School of Business of Western University.
The concepts I learned in strategy, leadership and management have helped me immensely in the day-to-day operations of my pharmacy. They have also aided me in my work on the Board of Directors – and Chair of the Corporate Oversight Committee – of the United Way of Eastern Ontario.
How long have you owned Glebe Apothecary?
It is hard to believe, but it will be 10 years in April. I have not planned anything for an anniversary, but there is still time!
What do you find rewarding about pharmacy as a profession?
I like the fact that our positive impact on customers is very direct and immediate. We are playing an increasingly important role in a stretched healthcare system. I also like the fact that our work is fast paced – even crazy at times – and no two days are ever the same. There are constantly new therapies for different conditions as well as new trends on the health supplements side. These continuing new developments keep me on my toes, but I wouldn’t want it any other way! Finally, I love my dedicated team. Everything we achieve is because of their hard work and commitment to excellent patient care.
The scope of our practice is rapidly evolving. My day-to-day job is completely different from when I took over the store in 2014. We often bridge chronic medications for people without family doctors (or whose family doctors have retired). We are administering vaccinations of all types to patients of all ages. And we are now diagnosing and prescribing for 19 different minor ailments. We also offer comprehensive medication review services to those on three or more chronic medications as well as those in the community living with diabetes.
What do you like about having a pharmacy in the Glebe?
The community really values me and my staff pharmacists as a trusted resource in their healthcare journey. We enjoy answering the interesting questions our customers ask. In forming our answers, we are constantly learning new things. I really enjoy chatting with my customers on a regular basis. Although I don’t live in the Glebe, I feel very much a part of this tight-knit community.
What do you enjoy in your leisure time?
I work out almost every day at Movati Athletic. I also regularly do Pilates classes at Glebe Pilates. In the summer, I enjoy playing tennis and golf. In the winter, I ski – both downhill and cross country – and I love to skate on the canal. I also love playing board games and completing escape rooms with friends.
Bob Irvine is a Glebe resident and occasional contributor to the Glebe Report.
Zenah’s Spicy Coconut Salmon
This recipe comes from Zenah’s mom and was one of her favourites growing up. Serves 6 to 8.
450 grm. wild salmon
½ tsp salt
One half medium-sized onion, chopped
6-8 ripe tomatoes, puréed (or one 796 ml tin, diced tomatoes, drained)
½ to 1 tsp Vindaloo paste (to taste)
200 ml coconut milk
2 tbsp fresh coriander leaves, chopped
½ to 1 cup lemon juice
2 tbsp olive oil
Preheat oven to 3500F. Cover a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
Place salmon, skin-side down, in a non-metallic, sided dish. Sprinkle salt on salmon. Pour lemon juice over salmon. Marinate salmon in lemon juice for 15 minutes to a half-hour.
While the salmon is marinating, chop, then purrée tomatoes. (A hand-held blender is great for this job.)
Rinse off marinade. Brush salmon with olive oil. Place salmon (always skin-side down) on a parchment-covered cookie sheet. Bake in oven 15 to 20 minutes. Set aside.
On stove-top, in a wide saucepan over medium heat (or in an electric skillet), sauté chopped onion in olive oil until golden brown. Stir in tomatoes. Continue stirring until oil separates from mixture. Add ½ to 1 tsp (to taste) Vindaloo paste and stir until the mixture is blended well.
Stir in coconut milk a bit at a time until the mixture has a light orange colour.
With a knife, divide salmon into serving-size pieces. Lift pieces off the skin and place them in the coconut mixture. Cook for five minutes. Sprinkle a tablespoon of lemon juice and stir gently with a wooden spoon. Cook for one more minute before plating. Sprinkle coriander leaves on top. Serve on rice or with stir-fried vegetables.