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5 Inspiring Chefs From The Middle East

On World Chef’s Day: These Famous Arab World Class Chefs Are Exemplary

By Inc.Arabia Staff
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The Arab World has long been a location for cultural exchanges and culinary diversity. In recent years, the region has witnessed a surge in global culinary pop-ups, where international chefs showcase signature dishes to local audiences in collaboration with some of the best regional talent. Also, chefs from MENA are taking the rich region's culinary experiences to the world and getting noticed and featured, even getting Michelin stars. 

Here are some of the outstanding examples:

Salam Dakak 

Salam Dakkak, the chef and owner of the Levantine restaurant Bait Maryam, was named one of the World’s 50 best female chefs in MENA in 2023. The Michelin Guide-listed restaurant is known for its authentic flavors and home-style cooking, opened in Jumeirah Lake Towers in Dubai in 2017.  

Dakkak, a former teacher, named Bait Maryam after her mother. The eatery pays tribute to her mother through its home-style cooking, curating Levantine dishes that are inspired by authentic recipes that have passed through generations of the family.  

The chef sources produce and distinctive spices from across the region in order to retain the true flavors of the dishes that she grew up with during her childhood in Jordan.

5 Inspiring Chefs From The Middle East

Alan Geaam   

Once upon a time, there was a little Lebanese boy who didn’t dream of being a doctor or an engineer. Instead, he dreamed of being a chef in France. Growing up during the Lebanese Civil War, Geaam did not go to school. His memories from that time are vividly colored by his mother’s cooking and its comforting flavors. At 24, Geaam moved to Paris to follow his dream, but since he couldn’t afford to attend culinary school, he climbed the ranks from cleaning kitchens to the Michelin-starred chef that he is today.   

His original recipes are an amalgam of France’s rich culinary heritage peppered with touches from his native Lebanon. In 2017, he opened his own restaurant in Paris and in 2018, he received his first Michelin star. Geaam’s eponymous restaurant in Paris promises guests a modern and unique approach to Lebanese and French gastronomy. The famous chef also owns two other food spots, Qasti and Saj, in the French capital and in Marseille. His autobiography/recipe book is in the making as well.   

5 Inspiring Chefs From The Middle East

Anissa Helou  

Author and teacher Anissa Helou knew from an early age that she didn’t want a conventional life. Growing up between Lebanon and Syria in a family that grew and cooked plenty of traditional food from scratch, she always loved eating, but a discovery of the writings of French existentialist Simone de Beauvoir, when she was a teenager, led her to view cooking as a ‘domesticated’ activity and set her on a completely different course.  

From a tome on Mediterranean Street Food  that won international honors at the 2002 Gourmand Awards to The Fifth Quarter: An Offal Cookbook, which was named the most innovative UK food book in 2005, Helou’s work has allowed the exiled Arab generation and their children to reconnect with their food roots, no matter where they are in the world. If hummus, tahini, and falafel are now known across the world it's partly because of Helou’s long-life work of documenting the Levantine kitchen and introducing it in the West.  

Her 2018 book, Feast: The Food of the Islamic World, was the first major book on the subject and won the James Beard Foundation’s International Cookbook Award. She published another ground-breaking book, Saudi Feast, in September 2022, and is currently working on a project to record Lebanon’s regional cuisines.  

5 Inspiring Chefs From The Middle East

Tala Bashmi 

Renowned for her modern Bahraini cuisine, Tala Bashmi skillfully combines Bahraini culinary heritage and gastronomy. Bashmi began her career in 2014 after studying culinary arts in Switzerland. She has won many awards and is widely popular in the field of cooking in the Kingdom of Bahrain and the countries of the region. She was recently awarded Best Chef in the East.   

5 Inspiring Chefs From The Middle East

Manal El Alem   

Chef Manal El Alem is an Egyptian professional and TV chef.  She works across the Arab region. Throughout her career, El Alem has encouraged women’s involvement in the culinary industry by leading specialized culinary courses for women as well as setting up the Manal Club – a network of 6,000 women from across the Arab world who take part in culinary festivals, shows, and competitions.  

She regularly posts cooking videos of traditional dishes on her YouTube channel and has written many books. She also oversees many charities, cooking schools, cooking shows, and competitions.   

5 Inspiring Chefs From The Middle East

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