As part of the implementation of MedSNAIL’s Chef Alliance pilot project, American University of Beirut (AUB) organized an event on December 28 in the AUB pilot plant, featuring guest appearances by celebrity chef Joe Barza, and nutrition influencer Dr. Carla Habib Mrad. The aim of the event was to launch the implementation of the Chefs’ Alliance and shine light on the Lebanese Ark of Taste product “Aakoub”. The workshop also functioned as a networking event to introduce producers from Chouf and West Bekaa to Chefs within those regions and others, as well as to increase awareness and visibility on the Ark of Taste products of Lebanon.
The event began with opening statements from the organizing team including Dr. Shady Hamadeh, Environmantal Sustainable Development Unit (ESDU) Director, and Ms. Patricia Naufal, Project Coordinator, who introduced the project and the event to the 40 attendees. Following the opening statements, Chef Joe Barza conducted a live cooking demonstration on meals prepared with “Aakoub”, “Kishek” and “Ambariz” (Serdeleh), three of the Lebanese Ark of Taste products. During this demonstration, Dr. Carla presented to the group on the importance of Aakoub as a traditional product as well as its nutritional value and importance in the Lebanese diet. After the demonstration had concluded, refreshments, prepared by one of the MedSNAIL producers in West Bekaa, were served and the attendees presented themselves and their line of work to the group, when some time was allocated for networking between participants.
This event was aligned with ESDU’s Keepers of the Land Campaign, which aims to revive rural livelihoods and foster the Lebanese heritage. This campaign was established in 2022 to support the “Keepers of the Land”: the unsung heroes and guardians of our roots including farmers, mouneh (traditional Lebanese food preserves) makers, and the younger generation that is harvesting the land. Chef Barza and Dr. Habib Mrad are both ambassadors of this campaign and are supporting ESDU in promoting rural farmers/producers and in preserving our heritage.