Founded in 2016, Le Passeport Culinaire is a culinary and wine travel club that promotes unique experiences. As USAID’s Trade and Investment Facilitation (TIF) project is working to raise the profile of seven regions in Lebanon and enhance their tourism offerings, we spoke with the founder of Le Passeport Culinaire, Marianne Abou Jaoude, to learn more about the platform and how it is also supporting tourism development across the country.
How did you come up with the idea for Le Passeport Culinaire?
I was motivated by a passion to embark on unique and memorable culinary experiences and seek the authenticity and the story behind the noble and terroir products of France and Italy. What I learned is that the culinary experience is a continuum, starting with agriculture and ending with cuisine. In between the two ends there are various experiences and activities to discover, such as cooking classes, product sampling and farmers’ markets, to name a few. These activities are at the core of what Le Passeport Culinaire and Tasting Lebanon offer and organize.
The platform showcases gastronomy and wine experiences in France and Italy, shedding light on the importance of culinary and wine tourism and the benefits it brings local communities. At Le Passeport Culinaire, we encourage small, local and independent establishments and businesses. Currently, we are developing a new platform called Tasting Lebanon. It promotes Lebanese regions through a network of local food ambassadors who unveil the culinary traditions of the rural areas and engage the participants in gastronomy and wine experiences.
Le Passeport Culinaire is the mother brand of Guesthouses Lebanon, founded by Nour Azzi, Whisknroll, a social recipes platform connecting home cooks and amateurs to professional chefs, and Tasting Lebanon, which I founded.
What content do you cover?
Our themes are related to gastronomy, wine and other drink activities, including:
- Culinary and wine tours in the different regions organized by local food ambassadors.
- Upscale and bespoke tours by Le Passeport Culinaire
- Pastry and cuisine master classes online and offline
- Farmers market organized at the Mir Amin Palace Hotel.
In what way is Le Passeport Culinaire collaborating with USAID-supported Destination Management Organizations (DMOs) to foster the promotion of different regions in Lebanon?
Our platform aims to highlight various culinary and wine experiences in different regions across Lebanon. Tasting Lebanon is about offering an array of culinary activities to tourists through local food ambassadors, local partners and Le Passeport Culinaire’s tailor-made experiences.
Le Passeport Culinaire will be promoting these activities and experiences through the DMOs’ sites at the same time, by establishing partnerships with the USAID-supported DMOs for the benefit of all parties and ensuring memorable experiences.
Do you have any specific plans or strategies in place to further enhance these efforts?
The main strategy is to enhance digital marketing efforts in order to best promote the experiences on our Tasting Lebanon platform in Lebanon and worldwide. Our goal is to elevate culinary tourism in Lebanon, benefiting the local community through service providers and shedding light on products from the land while reviving culinary specialties. Training and certifying local culinary and food ambassadors with an international association is vital at this stage, and Le Passeport Culinaire is fully hands on to implement this project so we can showcase Lebanon in the best way possible through professionals and not amateurs.
Why should people use your platform?
Le Passeport Culinaire offers a great way to discover different regions in Lebanon through the lens of gastronomy and wine tourism by unveiling the secrets of the land, people and cuisine. Our guests can meet the local community and learn about traditional culinary specialties, the origin of the products and production methods, as well as food traditions. They can also participate in cooking classes.
This article is part of a joint project to promote tourism destinations across Lebanon, launched by the Trade and Investment Facilitation (TIF) activity, funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and Hospitality Services. The content of this article is the sole responsibility of Hospitality Services, and does not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.