I've been really busy, but all good... Part of growing, evolving, continuing my path. You work hard, you get results. You wish for things and sometimes they actually do come true (stars are aligned to meet your goals in a given time - It's always about timing!).
Today I am finally settled in our mountain house after a hectic winter. The good thing about this winter is that I met a wonderful person, Selim Yasmine, who founded a company called www.209lebanesewine.com. I called him, not knowing him, and suggested we go on a tour to visit all the wineries of Lebanon. He agreed, and the journey started. We got along very well, as we are both very passionate about the subject. Since then, it's been quite an adventure. I am learning so much, meeting amazing people and discovering the wines of my country.
So I have set another goal for myself: that is to work on educating people of my country about wine and terroir, while I learn simultaneously myself. (I don't and won't pretend to be a connoisseur, but definitely one who appreciates the experience of wine tasting and luckily I have a developed a palate with all my food experiences and travels, so this has helped to elevate my wine tasting experience).
About books: I have published four books so far: The journey started with Manoushe! The book is doing very well. It was published in the USA with Interlink publishers (4th edition to date). It is now available in soft copy too... The Mouneh book ran out of stock in Lebanon. Not one copy is available in the market, luckily Interlink publishers will publish the book in fall 2017 in the USA. A limited amount will be sent to Lebanon so if you don't have your copy, I suggest you pre-order it as I have had so many demands for it. Funny how people suddenly want and need the book when it is not available... Good for me though! Mezze is still on sale in Lebanon, readers who understood it's message absolutely love it! And those who wanted photography with the recipes (a bowl of hummus facing the recipe) do not really have a clue as to what I was trying to do ... that's OK. You can't please everyone all the time. It's not really my aim anyway. My aim is to portray Lebanese food, my way!(does it sound pretentious?). This is what distinguishes one author from the other and each one has his / her vision of the subject. Last but certainly not least, Soup for Syria has been a great success worldwide, thanks to the unbeatable efforts of Michel Moushabeck, my publisher. The book is now published in 5 countries: US, UK, Netherlands, Italy, Germany, and in fall 2017 will be in Portugal and Turkey. All proceeds go to help relief funds to help refugees. The book has it's own life. It's like a baby that grew and flew .... This experience has helped me to grow as a person and with that become an activist for human rights.
About Slow Food: I have been an active member since 2006. It all started when a delegation of 30 Lebanese producers, farmers, food writers, university professors, restaurateurs flew to Torino to take part in the Salone del Gusto / Terra Madre exposition. It changed my life! Today I am acting president of Slow Food Beirut presently. It has not been easy, but definitely a challenge. A website was created and that's when everything fell into place. I took part in documenting the lost cheeses of the Lebanese mountain: Darfieh and Serdeleh, also know as Anbaris. I met a wonderful local film maker, Nay Aoun, who is very passionate about her work and she has generously shared her films with us dealing with food producers. Pascale Hares, Ludwig Archache, Julia Samaha and many others worked hard to develop the website (it's like working on a book!). The work on the website will continue constantly with new films, a repertoire of all farmers, producers, winemakers in different regions of Lebanon. A recipe section will be uploaded as I start my 101 Lebanese cuisine documentation with photos and videos. I have asked my friend Danny Elsoury, who worked for a few years in India as executive chef in a Lebanese restaurant called Zizo to help me develop the recipes to share with all visitors to the website. New plans are developing for Slow Food Beirut. I will keep you posted as they evolve.
About Food Consulting: It all started when a local business man called me to ask me to consult for him to open a bakery in Beirut. I was very reluctant, as I had never done this kind of job. He insisted and would not take no for an answer. So I agreed! Today, I am so grateful to him because it opened many job opportunities for me and gave me the experience I needed to take on other jobs. Later, I went on to consult for a terrific team in Seattle, Washington for a grand project called Mamnoon. I spent a month with the family and the executive chef cooking every day. On Sunday, I would escape to the Pike Market to have clam chowder soup and visit independent bookshops. My children during this time went to a summer camp on the island of St. John. One day, a friend saw a photo on Facebook I had posted of a Lebanese restaurant in Lisbon. He called me immediately and thus started our Muito Bey adventure. I trained the kitchen crew and learned so many lessons of life in the process. Many other adventures have been developing, and this is where I think I am headed for now. I will teach what I have researched for so many years and give the best I can to make Lebanese food flourish in Lebanon and in faraway lands and make food entrepreneurs make their dream come true.
In a nutshell: It's about being inspired, inspiring others to cherish the simple things of life: family, friendship, books, food, wine, travel and much more... I hope you stick around.