Hailing from the northern city of Zghorta , Suzanne Dhoueihy specializes in catering quality dishes for her small clientele that typify Zhgortan cuisine. Her initial participation with Souk El Tayeb was at food festivals and at the farmers market. Steadily her dishes grew in popularity and she was invited to be part of the casual chefs, caterers and housewives that cook once a month at Tawlet. Now Suzanne’s dishes are well known amongst the food elite in the Arab world. She was featured as a guest on Anthony Bourdain’s, No Reservations episode in Lebanon.
Her different appellations of kousa bi laban(stuffed courgettes with yoghurt) and kebbet al raheb(pressed burghul , mince meat nuts and spices) illustrate how diverse the country’s cooking repertoire is. To Suzanne, each person’s interpretation of the dish is a manifestation of one’s individuality as well as the shared Lebanese culture.
One can never forget Suzanne’s modest nature. She has received several opportunities to open up restaurants in the Middle East and the USA, but instead preferred to stay in her own home, confident with the quality and nature of her output. Further, she was one of the delegates to the SlowFood movement’s biennial gathering of local communities, Terra Madre. This experience has connected her with like-minded people from all over the world and have allowed her to share a love of Lebanese cuisine with fellow members of the food community.
Some of Suzanne’s most famous dishes include kebbeh with onions, pine nuts and yoghurt, fatayer bil homeyda, mjadra bil fasoulia(lentils and fava beans with spices) and raw kebbeh (ground meat, cracked burghul and olive oil)
Listening to Suzanne’s point of view on organic regulations in Lebanon helps us perceive the vast differences in farming practices. Suzanne does not understand the need to certify the source of each grain of wheat, when farmers live in the surrounding areas to her home. Organic certification is necessary in developed nations with higher access to capital, when producers and buyers do not know the source of the food. She believes that in a country as small as Lebanon, where relationships with food producers and customers are easy to trace, expensive organic certification is unnecessary.