The traditionally closed world of French gourmet food has been slowly prised open in recent decades.
“My mum doesn’t agree with what I do here: at home, we don’t eat like this,” laughs Alan Geaam, the first Lebanese chef to earn a Michelin star in Paris. The self-taught chef, who fled his country’s civil war in 1999, nonetheless believes that promoting Lebanon’s culinary riches means combining them with some of “the elegance and refinement” of French cuisine.
At his self-titled restaurant in the well-heeled 16th district of Paris, the tabbouleh comes in three different textures, there are trompe-l’oeil peanuts made from foie gras, and super-light baklava with seasonal fruits. And here are the thoughts of Michelin Guide about Alan Geaam Restaurant:
We’ve all heard of the American dream, but Alan Geaam prefers the French version! Having fled his native Lebanon at the age of 10 and settled with his family in the United States, he moved to Paris aged 24 with just one idea in mind: to make his way in the world of gastronomy – his true passion. He started out washing dishes, then became a chef’s apprentice before gaining a place at a cookery school and climbing the rungs of the gastronomic ladder. Now at the helm in his own restaurant, he has exploded on to the culinary scene as he brings together all that he has learned over the years. His original recipes skilfully combine France’s rich heritage with touches from the Lebanon in a true mixing of cultures, and his commitment and passion shine through in each and every dish. A fine dining experience.
“You don’t get a Michelin star with traditional Lebanese cuisine,” said Geaam, who earned his in 2018. “Tabbouleh has been made for a thousand years, no one has touched it. Today, this cuisine needs rejuvenating,” he told AFP.
The traditionally closed and snobbish world of French gourmet food has been slowly prised open to foreign influences in recent decades. But cooks like Geaam show how the influences cut both ways in fine-dining establishments, with foreigners putting French twists on their native recipes.