Maya Bekhazi Noun’s journey from banking to F&B reflects her versatility, expertise and unwavering dedication, making her a prominent industry figure.
With an MBA, she swiftly advanced in banking, enhancing her skills at Institut Villa Pierrefeu for dining etiquette and finishing school. Additionally, exclusive courses at Christie’s London enriched her understanding of fine dining, decorative arts and a profound knowledge of wine and champagne.
In 2000, Noun seamlessly blended her financial acumen with a passion for food and beverage. Thus, marking the beginning of her venture into the F&B business with Tribeca. It was the first coffee and bagels concept in the Middle East. What started as a hobby evolved into a series of triumphs. Noun conceptualized, developed and managed over 45 successful concepts across Lebanon, the Arab Gulf and various countries worldwide.
Furthermore, her F&B ventures include Shoots, Brisk, Kokoroo in the UAE, Pinocchio, Fiona’s, Spin the Hen, Tartufo, Curli Q and a boutique catering company among many others in Lebanon and regionally.
As managing partner at Food Studio, F&B master-planning and advisory company, she offers strategic development counsel to renowned companies and F&B funds globally.
Awards and recognition
In 2009, Noun received the MENA Leading Businesswomen Award for her significant contribution to women’s economic empowerment. The following year, in 2010, she was awarded the Best Woman Achiever in Hospitality. Moving forward to 2011, her company Acquisti SAL was rated among the 25 fastest-growing companies in Arabia 25.
Jumping ahead to 2014 and 2017, Noun was elected as an executive board member of the Syndicate of Lebanese Restaurant Owners. She eventually became its general secretary. During the same period, she actively engaged in initiatives. Thus, she played a pivotal role in launching the first Beirut Street food concept in 2015. It is a project by the Syndicate of restaurant owners in Lebanon. .
In 2017, Noun was celebrated as the Business Warrior of the Year by Lebanon Opportunities Lebanon. Her international recognition continued in 2019. That year she was acknowledged by the Japanese Embassy for supporting and contributing to the Japanese fine cuisine experience (Washuko). Additionally, she was honored with the Minister of Tourism Award in Lebanon for her outstanding contribution to the sector.
The pinnacle of recognition arrived in 2020 when Noun’s innovative “Curli Q” concept. It consequently earned her the silver award at the Transform Awards Dubai. Simultaneously, she was acknowledged as The Trendsetter of Hospitality by Hospitality News Magazine Middle East. Thus, solidifying her position as one of the most influential F&B entrepreneurs in the Middle East.
Beyond individual accomplishments, Noun actively contributed to broader initiatives globally promoting Lebanese gastronomy and culinary heritage. Today, Noun is an HORECA Advisory Board Member and regular contributor to Hospitality News Middle East and Taste & Flavors.
In addition to her professional achievements, she actively mentors women in business and supports numerous CSR endeavors, showcasing her commitment to social responsibility.
The F&B business
Noun’s foray into catering was more than a business move; it was a passionate pursuit. The catering arm of the business was born out of her love for culinary experiences and specialized in personalized discovery menus and various other culinary delights, in addition to a customized corporate catering experience. Noun’s belief is that every catering event is a new project that necessitates creativity and research, shaping the company into a hub of innovation.
The business transformed from an F&B service and catering concept into a prominent international consultancy firm that operates under the Food Studio trademark, signaling a remarkable evolution beyond the realm of culinary services to become a hub of strategic expertise. Thus, the Food Studio offers invaluable insights and innovative solutions to a global clientele.
Furthermore, Noun’s visionary leadership has steered the firm toward international recognition, where it now stands as a sought-after consultancy. The Food Studio’s journey exemplifies the fusion of culinary creativity and business acumen. Consequently, it solidifies its position as a dynamic player in the international consultancy arena.
In partnership with her successful entrepreneur brother, Gebran Bekhazi, Noun has expanded the company’s presence across the Middle East, Gulf and Africa. Furthermore, the firm is focused on a more global reach including Europe and North America. With a wealth of expertise, Noun navigates the complex landscape of the business world, thus providing strategic insights and fostering growth for her clients. Her commitment to excellence extends beyond her entrepreneurial ventures.
The Food Studio’s scope of services covers the full critical path of end-to-end F&B development. It encompasses early-stage business diagnosis, F&B service master planning, conceptual development, operations and recruitment, as well as preparing clients for growth through fundraising and organizational development.
Noun’s culinary journey reaches new heights with the opening of BoBo Fou Bistro Bar. It is an exquisite sanctuary dedicated to crafting unparalleled dining experiences. BoBo Fou seamlessly blends innovation with authenticity. Thus, focusing on vibrant flavors from the French provinces, Italian Riviera to authentic Greek ingredients.
Noun collaborated with skilled design teams, including interior architect Delphine Gebran and Stro’berry Advertising. Consequently, Noun transformed her vision into a captivating and well-articulated space. While Caline Chidiac curated the ambience, artisan Elie Georges crafted mesmerizing lighting features. Boubou Fou embraces solar-powered energy and recyclable glass and operates without plastic. In collaboration with Gaby Fernaine’s Rebirth Beirut, Noun has gracefully illuminated another part of Achrafieh.