Three Lebanese culinary stars - Chefs Cynthia Bitar, Youssef Akiki and Pierre Abi Hayla - were selected to be included in the first delegation of the Disciple Escoffier Lebanon. The Disciples d’auguste Escoffier were created in 1954 by Jean Ducroux, a kitchen chef in Nice and former cook of Auguste Escoffier. Since there were no other professional associations in existence at that time in the south of France, Ducroux had the idea of gathering together the kitchen chefs working in the region’s luxury hotels.
A decision was made during the first Magisterial Council to hold an induction, scarf and a cassolette ceremony which still takes place today. The first chapter was held at the beginning of the 1960s, under the presidency of Eugène Herbodeau, who had worked with Escoffier and published a book on him, together with Paul Thalamas, one of his close friends. Both had been pupils and literary executors of Maitre Escoffier. The title of International Disciples Escoffier was adopted during the executive board meeting and the general assembly on February 3, 2008, paving the way for the association to become well defined as an ‘Association for transmission, culture and modernity of Cuisine’. Today, the International Disciples Escoffier numbers over 30,000 members in the world, including 2,000 in France. The Lebanese chefs told HN that the disciple status has brought professional recognition from their colleagues on the local and the international scenes. Together, in line with their role, they have vowed to transmit, to serve and to honor the cuisine, its culture and its permanent evolution. Sharing knowledge and respecting the culinary heritage are key characteristics of the Escoffiers, the chefs said. Their objectives are to organize gastronomic events, to distinguish people who serve great French cuisine and to promote cooking as a career of choice. According to the chefs, the Lebanese chapter will revitalize the standards of cooking professionals and will work to further boost the value of that profession. They will also work toward boosting exports of Lebanese cuisine beyond borders.
Pierre Abi Hayla, Cynthia Bitar, Roger Tabet, Mario Vino, Youssef Akiki and Bernard Louis