20 years ago, Alan Geaam was living on the streets of Paris with barely a penny to his name. Unable to speak French, he worked on construction sites by day, and as a dishwasher by night.
When his Head Chef was rushed to hospital one evening, an opportunity presented itself; Alan stepped into his shoes, and seized it with both hands. Today he owns his own restaurant, Alan Geaam, and has just been awarded his first Michelin Star.
Born into a Lebanese family living in Liberia, Alan and his relatives were forced by war into Beirut. He first began cooking in the Lebanese army as a private chef for a colonel, but received no formal training. His story is one of success against all odds.
WE HAD THE OPPORTUNITY TO ASK HIM 3 QUESTIONS ABOUT HIS INCREDIBLE JOURNEY.
1. How did you start cooking?
I was working with my father in his grocery shop from the age of 10, and he gave me a taste for business. It was my mother who taught me how to love and treat people with food.
I always dreamed of my life as a chef. I used to save up for 6 months just to dine at French gastronomy restaurants. 12 years ago I told myself that getting a Michelin Star was my goal, and since then I’ve worked hard to get it.
“I COOK TO MAKE PEOPLE HAPPY.”
Chef Alan Geaam
2. Can you tell us about your story, and how you achieved so much?
Starting my adult life in France was not easy. I didn’t speak French and had a lot of menial jobs. I always believed in myself, and trusted in my passion. I learnt the subtleties of French gastronomy and was lucky to meet some inspirational figures.
When I opened my previous restaurants, I teamed up with cuisine students to benefit from their technical knowledge and mixed it with my creativity and passion. That’s how I became a real chef, and that’s how I became confident enough to have my name above the front door of my restaurants.
I used to think the Michelin Guide was about old restaurants, fancy hotels or those trained by the great master chefs. This star is a delightful surprise. It’s a reward and a recognition, but I’m definitely not going to stop here!
3. How do your origins influence your cuisine?
For a long time, I was afraid to incorporate my Lebanese heritage. But now I realise it’s the best thing that ever happened to me. I started to be proud of my origins, my story and my roots.
My cuisine is a fusion of Lebanese flavours and traditional French gastronomy. My signature dish is Escalope of foie gras lacquered with pomegranate molasses.
My cuisine is generous and affordable. I have fun with the ingredients and try to innovate.
You have to be creative to spark emotions; so I can certainly relate to INFINITI, and its pursuit of excellence through a fusion of innovation.
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