CELEBRITIES IN THE KITCHEN
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."