It’s no secret: Lebanese women are big on hospitality, which in concrete terms means they’re mavens in the kitchen. Inheriting classical recipes from their mamas and grand-mamas, they’ll often add a dash of their special touch to make each dish their own, and their families couldn’t be the more grateful for it.
Meet three Lebanese ladies—fascinatingly all Lebanese-Americans—who not only dazzle in the kitchen, but have transcribed their secrets in internationally acclaimed cookbooks for the world to emulate and admire.
Bethany Kehdy’s popular blog Dirty Kitchen Secrets, conceived in 2008, established her as one of the most engaging Middle Eastern cooks online. Daughter to an American mother and a Lebanese father, Kehdy was raised in Lebanon on her family’s ancestral farm where she learned how to harvest produce, churn cheese, and appreciate fresh seasonal cuisine. She credits her grandmother and three aunts for her fondness of the kitchen.
Today, Kehdy cooks both classical and Middle Eastern-inspired dishes and aims to present them in an effortless manner through thorough, step-by-step instructions. Her debut cookbook on Middle Eastern cuisine, titled The Jewelled Kitchen, was published in 2013 and spotlights her modern approach to Lebanese cooking (venison kebabs, anyone?). Her second cookbook, The Jewelled Table, is due out in a month’s time. Kehdy also leads culinary tours across Lebanon (Taste Lebanon) and is founder of Food Blogger Connect, the world’s leading international food blogging conference held annually in London.
Born and raised in Beirut, Joumana Accad attended high school in Paris and matriculated to college in Fullerton, California, before settling in Dallas, Texas. Her culinary ambitions saw her enroll in the Pastry Arts program at El Centro College, after which she became a pastry chef and professional caterer. Big on fresh, locally-sourced seasonal foods, Accad delineates the benefits of Mediterranean cuisine as she weaves narrative and recipe on her blog TasteofBeirut.com. Her eponymous cookbook, published in 2014, shares her heritage and captures the healthy flavors of the Middle East, which she has made her home since 2011.
Accad is currently dividing her time between Lebanon and Dallas. She continues to juggle food writing and blogging, as well as collaborating with brands on recipe development, food styling and photography both in the US and the Middle East.
As a child, Maureen Abood used to watch her “sitto” (grandmother) knead traditional Lebanese flatbread in the kitchen. Memories of food inextricably quilted with family left a lasting impression on Abood, so one day, she up and left her office job in Chicago and moved west to San Francisco to attend culinary school. Upon graduation, Abood relocated to Harbor Springs in northern Michigan—the place of childhood summer retreats with family—where she started her blog Rose Water and Orange Blossoms.
Abood is foremost a writer (with a master’s in English & American Literature), a cook, and a photographer, and her cookbook, borrowing its name from her blog, was published in 2015. Beyond tantalizing Lebanese recipes, Abood engages her readers through beautifully-woven tales of family, friends and love. Recently, she launched Maureen Abood Market, boasting Lebanese ingredients like olive oils, preserves, candies, dried fruit and nuts, and of course, the finest all-natural flower waters.
Contributed by Danielle Issa from Beirutista.co.