EAST MEETS WEST

Za’atar is a new Lebanese restau­rant in Lis­bon, signed by Lebanese Chef Joe Barza in a part­ner­ship with Miche­lin Star Chef José Avillez’s Group. HN finds out more about Por­tu­gal’s lat­est gas­tro­nomic sen­sa­tion from Chef Avillez

Hospitality News Middle East - - NEWS - Zaatar.pt

What sets Za’atar apart from the Lebanese-based res­tau­rants in Lis­bon?

I’m very in­ter­ested in dif­fer­ent world cuisines and I feel the of­fer of eth­nic cuisines in Lis­bon could be more ex­pres­sive, just like in other Euro­pean cities. In­stead of walk­ing that road alone, I chose to in­vite chefs of dif­fer­ent na­tion­al­i­ties that are knowl­edge­able and ex­pe­ri­enced about their coun­tries' gas­tronomies to es­tab­lish part­ner­ships with us. I be­lieve this way we can guar­an­tee higher-qual­ity pro­jects. Za’atar re­flects Lebanese cul­ture, but also Chef Joe Barza’s per­son­al­ity - it’s a joy­ful, authen­tic and very invit­ing place. Za’atar of­fers tra­di­tional Lebanese cui­sine with a twist in an ex­pe­ri­ence that in­volves the five senses. The menu can be de­scribed as a sym­phony of Lebanese fla­vors and aro­mas.

What are the sim­i­lar­i­ties be­tween Lebanese and Por­tuguese cui­sine?

In­ter­est­ingly, there are plenty of sim­i­lar­i­ties be­tween the Por­tuguese and Lebanese in the way we carry our­selves and the role fam­ily plays in society. We’re gen­er­ous peo­ples; we love so­cial­iz­ing and wel­com­ing guests with open arms and a plen­ti­ful ta­ble. Lebanese cui­sine can eas­ily win over the Por­tuguese, be­cause it’s healthy, var­ied, Mediter­ranean and ‘shar­ing’ is its sub­ja­cent idea.

What is the feed­back you've re­ceived?

We’ve been praised by Lebanese clients who are in Lis­bon and are thrilled with Za’atar be­cause it takes them back to Le­banon and makes them feel at home. There’s no bet­ter com­pli­ment. And those who weren’t fa­mil­iar with Lebanese cui­sine have been telling us they’ve sur­ren­dered to the fla­vors, the con­cept of shar­ing and the fresh­ness of this cui­sine. We’re very pleased.

What are your plans for the fu­ture?

I’m al­ways think­ing about new pro­jects. New ideas gen­er­ate en­ergy and drive me to go be­yond the usual bound­aries of pos­si­bil­ity. We are work­ing on new open­ings in Lis­bon, Cas­cais and Dubai, so stay tuned.

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