Breaking tradition with Marc Naaman

Breaking tradition with Marc Naaman

Marc Naaman, the managing partner of KB Food, tells us about his concept Kébi and the challenges he is facing in popularizing a Lebanese favorite.

What can you tell us about Kébi?
Kébi is a new restaurant-bar concept located in the very cosmopolitan district of the Marais, in the heart of Paris. We have created a completely new line of food inspired by kebbe.
Kébi offers a revisited version of the traditional kebbe that we have plucked from its homeland to brand it and give it its own identity. Our goal is to increase awareness on this important dish.
At Kébi, you can savor different forms and flavors of kebbe, from traditional meat to the black ink gambas and calamari kebbe. We even serve a duck and foie gras French-inspired version and have created a tasty banana, cinnamon and chocolate kebbe. Our mission is to change the perception that kebbe is only a meat ball stuffed with onion and pine seeds. Kébi offers a rich world of ingredients and flavors, based on fine bulgur preparation and know-how.

What were the greatest challenges you faced in launching the new concept?
Kebbe is a culinary tradition in the Levant. Each country has its own way of cooking and preparing it. As a dish, kebbe challenges social norms, as it is consumed by all, so it unites all classes of society. Traditionally, the rich used to use more meat, while the poor used to prepare kebbe with less meat or a different filling entirely. That is how we ended up with having different types of kebbe, namely fish, potato, duck, butternut and chicken; We gave kebbe its own identity and broke away from the idea that it is only made with meat. When launching such an innovative concept, it is always crucial to define it and brand it in an attractive way, thereby enticing people to taste it. We managed to demonstrate to our clientele that Kébi is not a Lebanese restaurant; it has its own identity. We don’t offer hommos, tabouleh and mezze. Instead, you’ll find our menu rich in salads, main dishes and even desserts centered on kebbe.

You’ve always gravitated toward France and/or French concepts. why do you think this is? 
Twenty years ago, I launched a Lebanese sandwich concept in Paris with my friends. I later opened an authentic French bistro in Beirut. Wherever I am based, I make it a goal to always offer a new type of menu. Nevertheless, my love for French cuisine remains my first, as I discovered it in France. I even abandoned my education in computer sciences to concentrate on the food industry.

Are you planning to make your concept franchisable?
My partners and I decided to do that from the beginning. Our branch in Paris is our flagship, a place to showcase our know-how, restaurant, bar, takeaway and so on. Other locations will follow, where we will have only takeaway or a bar. Our concept is rich and flexible, and we will certainly do our best to franchise it.

Do you have any plans to expand? 
For now, we are busy mastering our product and concept. At some point, we will start expanding in Paris, then to other cities in France and even European countries. We are even considering Dubai and the United States in our next phase



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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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