Five minutes with Joe Barza

Five minutes with Joe Barza

Renowned chef, television personality and culinary consultant Joe Barza is credited with introducing Lebanese cuisine to diners around the world. We spoke to him about his recent award and his upcoming projects.

How did it feel to be a global gastronomy gold medalist in 2021?
The Ambassadors of Taste® global guide defines the concept of gastronomy development and sustains the idea of united global gastronomy while recognizing the heritage and local traditions of individual nations. The honorary title rewards the efforts of those who promote and develop their local cuisine, from achieving sustainable gastronomy to preserving cultural heritage. Fellow chef Charles Azar was also certified and awarded for his success in the culinary arts and for being one of the top pastry chefs in the world. We have a conference on July 5 to discuss possible collaborations with other countries to help promote Lebanese cuisine.

What motivated you to become an ambassador for Lebanese cuisine?
I consider Lebanese cuisine as unifying. When you break bread with a friend or an enemy, you establish a tie with that person. You can feed your loved ones in the same way you feed your enemies. It is out of love for my country that I wanted to promote Lebanese food around the world. I think it is our duty to share our local dishes with foreigners. Competitions and tradeshows like HORECA have helped immensely in achieving this.

What defines a great chef?
The most important trait is modesty. A chef needs to be humble, disciplined and have a clear vision. Creativity is also essential.

You have teamed up with several renowned chefs. Which collaboration has been your favorite, and who would you like to work with?
I learn from chefs in the same way I learn from other people; each person teaches us something. I do not have a particular chef with whom I would like to collaborate. My goal is simply to join forces with chefs to serve the next generation of chefs, open doors for them and help them reduce their margin of error. We just need stability in order to be able to develop. We have a lot of potential and many premium products in Lebanon; we only lack stability.

Do you have any projects in the pipeline?
I am collaborating with the Mon Liban Azur organization, which is headed by Claudine Ghostine who will be hosting a dinner at Paul Bocuse in September in order to endorse Lebanon. We will also plant a Cedar tree in Mougins for Lebanon. Furthermore, I am offering consultancy online. All of my other projects are on hold due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

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About author

Rita Ghantous

Rita Ghantous is a hospitality aficionado and a passionate writer with over 9 years’ experience in journalism and 5 years experience in the hospitality sector. Her passion for the performance arts and writing, started early. At 10 years old she was praised for her solo performance of the Beatles song “All My Love” accompanied by a guitarist, and was approached by a French talent scout during her school play. However, her love for writing was stronger. Fresh out of school, she became a freelance journalist for Noun Magazine and was awarded the Silver Award Cup for Outstanding Poetry, by The International Library of Poetry (Washington DC). She studied Business Management and earned a Masters degree from Saint Joseph University (USJ), her thesis was published in the Proche-Orient, Études en Management book. She then pursued a career in the hospitality industry but didn’t give up writing, that is why she launched the Four Points by Sheraton Le Verdun Newsletter. Her love for the industry and journalism led her to Hospitality Services - the organizers of the HORECA trade show in Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Jordan, as well as Salon Du Chocolat, Beirut Cooking Festival, Whisky Live and other regional shows. She is currently the Publications Executive of Hospitality News Middle East, Taste & Flavors and Lebanon Traveler. It is with ultimate devotion for her magazines that she demonstrates her hospitality savoir-faire.

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