Chef Ahmad Adds His Own Flavor to Lebanon's Food Scene
"This course didn’t just teach me how to cook. It taught me how to think like a professional chef: how to price each meal, how to select my ingredients effectively, and how to properly decorate my plates." - Chef Ahmad on Anera's vocational course
"I absolutely love culinary arts,” says Chef Ahmad with enthusiasm. “I have always seen myself as the captain and the kitchen as my ship! I get creative with the simplest ingredients and produce the yummiest meals."
After working for nearly a decade in cafés and restaurants, Ahmad recently managed to crown his hard work with a technical degree. The degree has enabled him to launch his own catering kitchen - a dream come true for him, and a means to support his family.
Like millions of other Syrians, Ahmad was forced to leave his home and start a new life abroad. Uprooting one’s life to relocate to a new country is challenging in the best of circumstances. Forced migration multiplies the difficulties immeasurably. Yet when Ahmad arrived in Lebanon seven years ago, he knew exactly what he wanted out of life.
He worked in many restaurants in Lebanon, pulling long hours for low pay. Despite the backbreaking work, he sought learning opportunities around every corner, eventually happening upon an advertisement for an accelerated hospitality course at CIS College in Beirut available free-of-charge to those eligible. Ahmad had long wanted to enroll at the reputable vocational training academy but didn’t have financial resources to do it.
The program, organized by Anera and UNICEF, provides an opportunity for marginalized Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese to enroll in CIS classes.
Ahmad found the course invaluable. "This course didn’t just teach me how to cook. It taught me how to think like a professional chef: how to price each meal, how to select my ingredients effectively, and how to properly decorate my plates,” he says. “Presentation is crucial!"
Today, Chef Ahmad’s mother and all his family members help him to run his Home Chef Lebanon project. Daily, the company prepares orders for a growing list of customers drawn to the food, showcasing flavors from around the world, including vegetarian and vegan cuisine, and favorites like béchamel chicken pasta or grilled kebbeh. In his kitchen he prepares high-quality ingredients in abundant portions, always adding a secret ingredient: the Homsi touch! One hasn’t really tasted the best of Syrian cuisine until they have tried Ahmad and his mother’s wonderful delicacies!
“It really boosted my confidence to embark on this new adventure. I hope that one day I can launch my own restaurants in Syria and, hopefully, around the world."
Follow Chef Ahmad on Facebook (so you can order from him directly in Beirut!) Ahmad is one of the thousands of youth who are benefiting from Anera’s collaboration with UNICEF Lebanon on the program "Quick Impact Skills Development for Adolescents and Youth Affected by the Syrian Refugee Crisis IV," which is funded by the Embassies of the Netherlands and Germany in Beirut and UK AID.