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Charles W. Hostler Student Center Welcomes Students, Staff and Alumni
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Collecting Lebanon's Past
Fast Track to Slow Food: A Tour of Lebanon's Best Culinary Traditions
Better Barley, Wonder Wheat and Champion Chickpeas
Class notes: May Albert Rihani Receives the 2008 Khalil Gibran International Award
Last Glance: Lee Observatory
 

Summer 2008 Vol. VI, No. 4

Alumni Profile

Their Niche in the Noshing Market

Whether they're FAFS, FEA or OSB, AUB graduates are working the food industry worldwide. Maybe they're all in cahoots-while some are trained at Le Cordon Bleu, make the most decadent pastries in Lebanon and recommend the finest wines, a few good souls are diligently providing some of the best nutritional and weight loss advice in the Middle East. We'll introduce you to both. Bon apptit!

Cordon Bleu-trained Marlene Matar (BS '63) has been called Lebanon's answer to Martha Stewart. In Beirut, her intimate cooking courses are seen as a must for young socialites looking to hone their haute cuisine homemaking skills. From 1975 until 1989 Marlene made her home in Paris, the culinary capital of the world, where she enrolled in the prestigious culinary school Le Cordon Bleu and graduated with a Grand Diplme in cuisine and pastry. In 1989 she took her love of cooking from Paris to Beirut, started a cooking school, and for four years hosted a twice weekly TV show on the NBN channel. These days she's divulging her cooking secrets on Heya TV twice a week, giving cooking lessons at home, and teaching pastry-making at the Lebanese American University. She also lectures occasionally at AUB about cooking techniques, and recently published a book in Arabic which contains 400 recipes and some 600 photographs which she took herself. New challenges? Responding to our calorie-conscious and speed-obsessed environment by finding ways to reduce both the caloric content and preparation time in her recipes.
www.marlenematar.com

When Hazem Arayssi (BBA '95) launched his pastry business out of his mother's kitchen in 1999, he had already received his certificate of pastry from Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. He started by making cakes for his friends and family, working alone in a little kitchen, squeezing in purchasing, cooking, deliveries, and client recruitment-all while doing his military service. Early success enabled him to move to a small factory in the suburbs of Beirut and begin catering for medium sized restaurants and cafes . . . and then he landed the Starbucks account, which demanded a bigger factory, and a different kind of company. Today Arayssi heads up a team of 43 employees at a factory in the heart of Beirut. The name of Arayssi's shop, Secrets, is a play on sucrée-sweet-in French, and of course the finest recipes never reveal their hidden je ne sais quoi. His shop is a treasure trove of unusual creations: you might discover an apple crumble, in a delicate pot handcrafted by an 80 year old artisan in the south; pistachio crème brûlées; banana split macaroons; a bounty of éclairs; oreo ice cream suprèmes; or roses réligieuse with lichees. Says Arayssi, "I wanted Secrets to be unlike anything you've ever experienced. Everything I love, you'll find it there."
www.hazemarayssi.com

After graduating with an agricultural engineering degree from AUB, wine consultant and professional gourmand Paul Koder (BE '92) was introduced to fine wine and cuisine by his mentor, Lucile Jambon, the head of the culinary school at Ritz Escoffier Schools in Paris. Koder received culinary arts degrees from Le Cordon Bleu and Ritz Escoffier. He continued his training by earning a sommelier degree from the Wine and Spirit Education Trust in London. Koder founded Wine Trend Inc. in 2004, an international wine consulting business specialized in enhancing people's enjoyment of wine through educating and creating wine storage solutions. The firm, which has offices in France and the United Kingdom, tracks trends in wine and custom designs and installs wine rooms for homes and the hospitality industry. Koder's home base is Richmond, Virginia, where he is working on a cookbook that is scheduled for release in late 2008. It will feature all of his recipes along with recommended wines.
www.winetrend.com

With a worldwide shipping network and plans for expansion, Rafaat Hallab & Sons of Tripoli, Lebanon-a family owned business since 1881-is making "A Taste of Lebanon" available anywhere in the world. This bonanza feast of nuts and honey is the finest the region has to offer. Rafaat Hallab himself graduated with a pharmacy degree in 1977 and worked for 12 years before being lured into the family business. "In pharmacy, you see sick people. This

is a nice business. Everyone is happy," says Rifaat. It's true. Looking around at the packed tables at one of the Hallab shops in Tripoli, you see lots of big smiles on faces staring at unusually large plates of sweets, with a little pot of syrup on the side, just in case. About eight members of the Hallab family are involved in the company that now employs 150 people; several are AUB graduates. Abdul Hamid Hallab (see "Reflections," this issue) is, in his words, the "unofficial chairman" of the family business. Omar Monzer Hallab (BBA '91), is the company's finance operator; Rami Fawaz Hallab (BS '03) works in Omar Hallab's department. And since the New York Times recommended Hallab's two-kilo basket of taj el malak (shredded phyllo stuffed with pistachios and dripping honey), mamoul cocktail mix, and marzipan as a great mail order gift for the winter holidays, business has been booming outside Lebanon as never before.
www.hallab.com

Thuraya Baalbaki (BBA '84) has turned her own weight loss experience into a stunning business, helping the residents of Dubai lose more than 7,000 kilos since she started her company Live'ly in 2005. Baalbaki is the partner and managing director of Live'ly Health and Nutrition Center-Dubai. "My weight loss experience inspired me to start a professional place that can take care of people who want to lose weight but do not have the skills and know-how," she says. Together with four friends from AUB who are now her partners, she started a center that focuses on health education, nutritional services including healthy food catering, and personalized guidance and support. It is the only professional nutrition and diet center in Dubai that also focuses on creating healthier environments by regularly teaming up with schools, clubs, and businesses to promote healthy lifestyles. The company has branches in Al Wasel and Diera, and in 2007 Baalbaki opened the Live'ly Café at the Jannati Health Spa at the Dubai Women's Association, which offers delicious-and, of course, diet-conscious-food and beverages. There are plans to expand, so watch for Live'ly throughout the UAE.
The Live'ly team includes 4 clinical dieticians, Tina Choueiri (BS '02, MPH '05), Rima Itani (BS '02), Hala Barghout (BS '05), and Yasmine Haddad (BS '03, MS '06).
www.lively.ae

Carla Habib-Mourad came to AUB in 1987 with her eyes on a medical career, but fell in love with nutrition after her first class. Two degrees later, she landed her first job with the Ministry of Social Affairs and the Save the Children Fund as a community nutritionist. She also started her own private clinic, but when the opportunity to present a special TV segment on nutrition came her way, she jumped at the chance to launch a full scale nutrition awareness campaign. She became the first nutrition specialist in the Middle East to host a daily morning show dedicated to nutrition attracting an audience that quickly expanded from housewives to include men and women of all educational and social backgrounds. The show is broadcast nationally and internationally on Future Television. Mourad has written two bestsellers, Nutrition Secrets (Asrar el Taghziyah) and Healthy Recipes with Carla (Atbak Carla al Sohiya), which offer healthy versions of most traditional Lebanese and international recipes. Her advice? "The number one advice I always give to my TV audience and to my students at AUB is that moderation is the key to a healthy lifestyle!" So back off the baklava...just a little bit.
www.carlamourad.com

Musa (BS '57) and Tony (BS '81) Freiji, both FAFS graduates, know more than a thing or two about chicken. And organic olives and olive oil, fresh organic vegetables . . . hence Wadi Food. Musa Freiji got started in Lebanon's poultry industry in 1957 by offering baby chicks and free technical services to famers. His business gradually expanded to Syria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Sudan, and to establishing the 26 production companies that are currently in operation. After Tony Freiji graduated from Iowa State University with a MSc degree, he joined Musa in establishing Wadi Poultry Co. in Egypt, which he further diversified into olive plantations and processing, feed production, and more. Tony Freiji is also expanding the company into sorghum and sesame plantations in Sudan. In Lebanon, Musa revitalized the Tanmia Company in 1997 to be a fully integrated broiler production and poultry meat processor. Their group of companies, Wadi Holdings, most of which are food related, employ 3,750 people, and the Freijis plan to add via new projects an additional 2,000 employees within the next three years. At work, upgrading product quality and productivity is important, but so is employee training, improving the skills of the local work force, and environmental responsibility. Musa's wife Amal (MA '61) has been involved in writing and publishing Arab curriculum and reading books since 1962; Tony's wife Lynn spearheaded the Wadi Environment Science Center, an NGO in Egypt that introduces 15,000 elementary students to the environmental sciences every year.
www.wadigroup.com

"Every wedding needs a theme-something that captures your heart and imagination," says Rosinne K. Chlala (BA '72). "My passion is to see the event through my client's eyes and bring that vision into reality. And besides, I'm Lebanese. Our sense of hospitality runs deep, and that permeates our business. We're in hospitality, not just catering." A former journalist and IC teacher turned professional events consultant, Chlala has set her gregarious spirit and ingrained sense of Lebanese hospitality to task building one of the most sophisticated and innovative catering companies in the northeastern United States. In 1984, when her brother, executive chef William Kaliff, proposed founding Festivities Catering, Chlala became his business partner and the company's co-owner and event consultant. Chef Kaliff has since been selected by Bon Appetit magazine as one of the leading chefs of the nation. In 2007 and 2008, Festivities was voted "best caterer in Connecticut" on theknot.com, a leading wedding website. The company, which is based in Connecticut, works throughout the New York City region, but increasingly organizes destination weddings as well. Having planned many soirées for expat crowds in Lebanon and Al Khobar, Saudi Arabia, where she lived for four years, Chlala says her experience abroad comes in handy as she plans more and more events with an international flair. "I love the international weddings. We're seeing more and more cross cultural relationships, and have become really adept at weaving various customs, cuisines, and cultures into our events. And we learn to work with the in-laws as well. I've only heard of one
divorce after all these years!"
www.festivitiesevents.com