Learn How to Cook with Top Chef & Culinary Genius Maroun Chedid
Maroun Chedid is no rising star in the Mediterranean culinary galaxy. He is the star around which both established heavyweights and aspiring chefs strive to revolve, and today he’s scintillating more than ever.
Hailed as the “jeweler of gastronomy,” Chedid was awarded Chef of the Year by the Toques Blanches du Monde gastronomical association in 2013, in part for developing and spreading the beauty of Lebanese and Mediterranean cuisines around the world. A native of Saghbine in the Bekaa Valley, Chedid pays homage to nature by incorporating local and seasonal ingredients in his edible artwork.
|This eclair is a marriage of elements from various cuisines -- |
French, Italian, Armenian and Lebanese
More recently, you’d recognize him from his morning cooking shows on MTV Lebanon, which aired from 2012 to 2015 and showcased his ability to modernize traditional dishes with both technique and element. Presently, Chedid features in the Arabic language adaptation of the world-famous reality culinary competition TV series Top Chef Middle East, now in its second season and televised throughout the Arab realm.
Is it any wonder that I heretofore haven’t dedicated a post to Chef Chedid on Beirutista? To be fair, I did a write-up for online magazine Beirut.com several years ago when a collaboration was struck between wine cellar Les Caves de Taillevent in Achrafieh and the venerated chef. That was my first encounter with him, as he was modestly circulating among guests and playing as much host as culinary extraordinaire.
I only got in a few words with Chef Chedid then and again on subsequent occasions. But it wasn’t until two weeks ago that I found myself in his presence in a more intimate setting, with eight of us huddled around a kitchen counter inside his new cooking academy in Achrafieh, hanging on to his every swift move as he whipped up three gourmet creations.
|Chef Chedid leading instruction at his new cooking academy|
|The Foodie's Menu|
Indeed, the Maroun Chedid Cooking Academy is now up and running, welcoming foodies, professionals and amateurs alike wishing to explore cooking techniques and cuisines in the context of a long list of courses. Everything from the art of pizza-making to samkeh 7arra and tajen rounds out the repertoire. Designed to be a living space straddling common areas, four workshop kitchens, a shop, and a patio, the institution features state-of-the-art equipment by Miele and Kitchen Aid and counts numerous chefs, besides Chedid, on its instructor roster.
|Note the branding, both on this wooden cutting board and below, on my denim apron|
|All eyes on the denim apron!|
On that very Friday evening two weeks ago, Chef Chedid crafted a “Foodie’s Menu” for us, beginning with a savory éclair crowned with Parmesan craquelin and layering Armenian candied meat (or “basterma”), ricotta, halloumi, and pesto.
|Preparing the eclair pastry and Parmesan craquelin|
|Savory eclair with basterma|
|A cross-section of the savory eclair|
Up next, we were treated to sea bass bruschetta with pomegranate molasses and basil oil.
|Look at that erect posture and confidence!|
Dessert catapulted the game out of the ballpark, fusing date paste and pistachios in tart form with halawa crème patissière piped on top. Try to imagine the confluence of maamoul stuffed with dates, another with pistachio, cloyingly sweet halawa and silky pastry cream. Out. Of. This. World.
|Putting the final touches on the tart|
I probed at Chef Chedid’s inspiration for entering the culinary sphere and was astonished to discover that it had not been a dream nurtured from childhood. In fact, Chedid was a young adult influenced by his friend, who convinced him cooking would foster a stable career and yield a steady income. So Chedid, pragmatic, enrolled in culinary school, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Over the years, the celebrated chef has racked up accolade after accolade, from the Bocuse d’Or Gold Medal at the Lebanese National Selection in 2004, to being the only Middle Eastern chef to participate in the Alain Ducasse – 25 ans Louis XV event (scroll through his key achievements here). In 2006, he founded the culinary arts department and student-run restaurant l’Atelier at the Saint Joseph University in Beirut, roles he retained through 2014. Chedid also boasts an array of consulting services, catering, and a product line of mouneh, or quintessential items from the Lebanese pantry, named for his mother, Georgette.
All this and Chedid remains down-to-earth, approachable, and warm when understandably, a chef of his stature can lay claim to hubris. Not in his case.
And that is exactly the ingredient that will render the Maroun Chedid Cooking Academy a resounding success.
Register for his classes here.
|It doesn't get better than this!|
+961 1 323 084
+961 1 323 085