Celebrity chef and TV personality Joe Barza takes us around his beautiful hometown of Tyre in South Lebanon.
What was it like growing up in Tyre?
The magic of growing up in Tyre is etched in my mind; hearing the sound of the sea, the stories of the fishermen, watching housewives wait impatiently for them to return with their daily catch. I witnessed a lot of beautiful things that became part of my daily routine.
How has being from Tyre influenced the way you cook?
I was highly influenced by it, not least because I use fish in a lot of my dishes. Growing up by the sea helped shape who I am today.
You have long represented Lebanon at countless international food events. What do you always take with you to remind you of home?
Wherever I go, the spirit of the Lebanon, the reflection of the sea and the warmth of Tyre follow me.
What Lebanese ingredient could you not live without and why?
That’s a difficult question to answer. I would say tahini, kishk and sumac are very important ingredients in Lebanese cuisine, used in almost every traditional dish. My kitchen is well-stocked with all of them!
When you’re not busy in the kitchen, what do you enjoy doing?
Time spent with my family is sacred. We could be sitting around not doing very much, but those precious moments together mean the world to me.
Pick three words that describe Lebanon …
Well, I believe there are three things that best describe the place – the people, the food and the fact that it’s quite simply the best place on earth!
TYRE TIPS FROM CHEF JOE
Wander around: The Christian Quarter – it’s so charming with its colorful houses.
Have a coffee at: Kamil Doro Coffee Shop, where you’ll be served the tastiest coffee
Grab a bite to eat at: Baroud Restaurant and Le Phenicien. They both offer delicious Lebanese food.
Escape the crowd at: Fanar, the lighthouse. You’re guaranteed an epic view of the sea
Don’t miss: Watching the fisherman as they cast their nets
Buy: Fish, and plenty of it
Don’t leave without: Visiting the Roman Hippodrome and the Al Mina ruins. It’s fascinating to see thousands of years of history before your very eyes.