Have you ever ‘imagined the taste of a dish’ by just describing it? Well, Marc Ghaoui is one of those culinary masters who will take you to a world of flavors by just telling you about a specific dish. The passionate connoisseur who combines years of expertise in the hospitality and F&B industry, is pouring this amalgam into his new artisanal cheese and charcuterie brand. HN spoke to him to highlight his new venture.
Tell us more about yourself and the motive behind this new cheese and charcuterie initiative?
I hold two degrees in hospitality management, and I have always been passionate about food and beverage. During the last two decades, I have worked in five stars hotels, and I was the Director of Operations at the Sagesse Faculty of Hospitality Management with the Certification of Ecole Hoteliere de Lausanne. I have also developed several restaurant concepts in Lebanon and abroad. I worked closely on developing and upgrading the Lebanese food, developed menus for multiple Lebanese restaurants. As of 2010, I specialized in the development of Lebanese Pantry Traditional and Revisited Products and worked closely with several Lebanese NGOs Notably: The Lebanese Maronite Order, Batrouniyat, Lebanese Developers, Philokalia, the Son of Man and ‘Authenticité et Mission’ in France.
My passion drove me into the development of new products, and the economical crisis as well as the lockdown helped me find ways to achieve all the ideas I did not have enough time to accomplish during regular days.
What types of products do you produce and how do you do it?
I am producing two lines of products at my place in Ajaltoun (Mount Lebanon):
- Charcuterie: Authentic European-style cold cuts. I avoid using preservatives and artificial colorings. All my products are handmade with the best quality of meat. Some of my products are: Bresaola, Lomo, Roasted Ham, Glazed Ham, Saucisson Sec, Fouet, Pepperoni, Calabrese, Terrines, Galantines, Liver Pâté, Pulled Pork, Pulled Beef, Pulled Lamb, Barbecue Sausages…
- Cheeses: I started first with fresh cheeses, and now I am adding pressed and aged cheeses. I am mainly working with cows’ milk, but goats’ milk is also on the list. Some of the cheeses are: Fresh Mozzarella, Burrata, Scamorza, Ricotta, Mascarpone, Cream Cheese, Gouda, Dry Mozzarella, Boursin, Ricotta Salata, Colby, and Tomme de Vache.
How much cheese and charcuterie do you produce and do you aim at expanding the capacity of your production?
The production of cheese is growing at a fast pace: I started with a few kilograms per day and now the potential production can easily reach 150 Kgs of cheese per day. As for the charcuterie, I can supply around 200 Kgs per day. The production can be increased upon request especially for fresh goods (BBQ sausages, pulled meat, ribs, roasts…)
Where do you market your cheese and who is your main audience?
We have been relying on word of mouth and social media to market the products. Our clients are gourmet people who knew about us and started talking and requesting our products.
Do you think the crisis in the Lebanese market has encouraged you to kick off your venture (the difficulty to purchase premium brands from abroad, etc)?
Yes sure, I have been selling fresh charcuterie for five years, but due to the drastic increase in the prices of imported products after October 2019, I decided to start producing unavailable and expensive products. I started with Bresaola and Fresh Mozzarella and then gradually moved to other products.
Do you aim to export this cheese? Which markets do you eye?
I am planning to export the products in case requested. Bresaola and aged cheeses are the main items that I would like to export especially to the gulf countries.
Do you plan on launching a factory?
It could be an option one day, but for the time being, I prefer to have an authentic production. Customers are satisfied with the quality I am supplying, and any potential expansion will be studied carefully since moving to low end industrial quality will not help at all the target I have set.
What is the investment needed?
An investment of USD 350,000 would move this project to another level as it would prepare the product for export which is one of the important milestones in the near future.
Where do you see your business in the next five years?
The line will be wider and the products will have their proper appealing package and branding. We will also have exquisite new products like the Dry Aged Cheeses (Parmesan Style, Pecorino Style…). As for the charcuterie, I will continue with the existing line and focus on developing better quality meat since the meat we are using is solely local. I am closely working with farmers to produce better meat for a perfect end product.