In the kitchen with George Hebeiliny

In the kitchen with George Hebeiliny

Consultant pastry chef George Hebeiliny can’t resist fusing Arabic flavors into his marvelous desserts. We caught up with him in KSA to learn more about his work and what makes his kunafa so appealing.

What can you tell us about your career journey so far?
I’m a Lebanese chef who is passionate about exploring new creations, cuisine and culinary techniques. Since 2008, I’ve been based in the GCC, where I have improved my skills in pastry and bakery and worked alongside talented Lebanese, French, Indian, Sir Lankan and Saudi chefs.

How has your professional experience helped shape you into the chef you are today?
By working with and learning from skilled chefs from around the world, I have been able to develop my skills in pastry.
In addition, my professional experience is based on a huge operation throughout the GCC, which has made me appreciate the fact that my job goes beyond simply cooking. A successful chef should have good time-management skills, be organized, flexible, creative and a team player.

What are you cooking today?
It’s my own recipe that fuses Arabic flavors and French techniques: kunafa and date mousse with Arabic traditional spices.

What are the main ingredients and products you’re using these days?
Since I like to highlight Arabic ingredients in my cooking, herbs and spices are essential in my kitchen. I also use plenty of Nestlé ® products and high-quality chocolate.

What important food trends have you noticed lately?
The hospitality industry has witnessed countless food trends over the past decade. But these days, Instagrammable dishes are what many people are looking for. They like to post pictures and videos of vibrant, creative desserts, so we try to accommodate this.

What advice would you give suppliers and food service professionals who are looking to offer their best to the market?
In my opinion, there are four key aspects:
Define your target market: who is your new business targeting?
What differentiates you from the competition? Have a look at what your direct (and indirect) competitors are doing and establish your point of competitive difference.
Promotions should be a part of your marketing strategy.
Use social media to share news with your clients.


Ingredients for one portion

Caramelized Kunafa

  • 130g kunafa
  • 30g butter
  • 20g powdered sugar
  • 50g Nestlé caramel

Crème brûlée with Arabic flavors

  • 500g cream
  • 300g Nestlé condensed milk
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 10g gelatin powder
  • 50ml water
  • 2g cinnamon
  • 1g ginger
  • 2g cardamom powder
  • ½ vanilla stick
  • 1g saffron

Date Mousse

  • 400ml liquid cream
  • 50g Nestlé condensed milk
  • 250g fresh dates
  • 1g cardamom
  • 1g cinnamon
  • 500g whipped cream

White chocolate for covering

  • 300g Nestlé white chocolate
  • 40g small crushed pistachios
  • 2g dry roses
  • 75g vegetable oil


Caramelized Kunafa

Mix the kunafa, sugar and butter by hand until it is well blended. Put 50g of the mixture in a 10cm round tin. Bake in the oven at 180 degrees until it is golden in color. Take the caramel spread and brush it on the surface of the kunafa.

Crème brûlée with Arabic flavors

Put the gelatin in the water and set aside.
Bring the cream to a boil with all the spices.
Whisk the egg yolks with the condensed milk.
Pour the boiling cream over the egg mixture and cook to 80 degrees.
Add the gelatin and mix it well
Place it in silicone rings 10cm (80g each),
Let it cool and place it in the freezer. 

Date Mousse

Heat the mix, dates, cinnamon and cardamom, and stir until a paste has formed.
Let it cool and then add the condensed milk.
Whisk the cream and combine it with the mixture.
Put it in a half-sphere mold and place it in the freezer

White chocolate for covering

Melt the white chocolate.
Add the vegetable oil, pistachios, and dry roses.
Dip the date mousse in it.
Leave it to dry. 

Plating and finishing

Place the caramelized kunafa in the center of the plate.
Add the crème brûlée on top.
Top with the date mousse that’s covered in white chocolate.
Decorate with half a piece of date and dry rose.

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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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