Taste & Flavors - - CONTENT -

Guy Manoukian at Batchig

You know him as the child prodigy who would go on to be­come a leg­endary pi­anist and com­poser, but Guy Manoukian is so much more. We caught up with the 'shoot­ing star of the east’ as he paused at Batchig restau­rant for a bit of culi­nary fun with his good friend, Aline Ka­makian

“Let’s eat,” was the first thing he said as he shot into the restau­rant. Tall, well-built, debonair and ex­ceed­ingly hand­some, he smiled an en­dear­ing sort of smile that lit up his eyes. He em­braced Aline with a big hug - the two ap­par­ently met years ago at an Ar­me­nian youth as­so­ci­a­tion but re­con­nected after Guy fre­quented her other restau­rant, Mayrig. With his sleeves rolled up and ready to pre­pare his menu fa­vorites, we be­gan build­ing up to what would be a culi­nary crescendo. While Guy made 'mante' (tra­di­tional minced meat dumplings), a roasted egg­plant salad and a rose loukum pie, we man­aged to get a few ques­tions in.

Guy started play­ing clas­si­cal piano at the age of four, ap­peared on tele­vi­sion when he was six and a year later, per­formed at the pres­i­den­tial palace for Amine Ge­mayel. He com­posed his first piece of mu­sic aged just eight. Guy’s mu­sic is art­ful, com­plex, com­posed and rich in tra­di­tion, as is the man. His fu­sion of ori­en­tal themes with modern ar­range­ments has taken him all over the world, play­ing sell-out con­certs in Sin­ga­pore, Cairo, Dubai, Los Angeles, Yere­van, Beirut and Syd­ney and in the US where he has worked with the big­gest names in the in­dus­try; he recorded "On Tour" with Wy­clef Jean, worked with 50 Cent, French rap­per Di­ams, Raul Di Bla­sio and Mario Reyes of the Gipsy Kings fam­ily. Fast for­ward to 2014, Guy re­leased his ground­break­ing and sub­se­quently chart-top­ping al­bum, 'No­mad'. "My mu­sic can be de­scribed as a bridge be­tween the Ori­ent and the Oc­ci­dent, which is ex­actly what Aline has cre­ated with Batchig - a beau­ti­ful blend of

Le­banese and Ar­me­nian fla­vors." Clearly not a man to rest on his star power alone, Guy likes to keep him­self quite busy. He’s been a mu­si­cian for the last 37 years, but has re­cently started se­ri­ously mul­ti­task­ing. Pres­i­dent of bas­ket­ball op­er­a­tions at Homenet­men Beirut, CEO of Zard­man (a real es­tate de­vel­op­ment firm), Beit Misk, Vir­gin Ra­dio and Lo­tus cars are just a few of the names he dropped, de­vour­ing his fa­vorite dish on Batchig’s menu, 'daoud basha'. Amidst all of these ex­tracur­ric­u­lar ac­tiv­i­ties, he also some­how man­aged to grad­u­ate from law school, earn a real es­tate man­age­ment de­gree from Har­vard, get mar­ried and have three chil­dren un­der the age of nine. Our heads were in a whirl by this point as Guy re­counted his as­cent to one of the most pow­er­ful po­si­tions in Le­banese sports. When the sub­ject was mu­sic, he spoke with the prac­ticed rhythm of a lawyer, but when the dis­cus­sion turned to sports (Homenet­men face lit up and he spoke in dou­ble-time. “This is just the be­gin­ning,” he said. As our time was near­ing its end, per­haps Aline summed up the ex­pe­ri­ence best. "When cul­tures mix, it some­times cre­ates con­flict be­tween people," she said. "But, when it comes to art, like mu­sic or cook­ing, it is a great source of in­spi­ra­tion."

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