Making his first appearance at Madrid Fusión the Lebanese chef shared his story and his approach to cooking.
It is hard to land on one single word to describe Alan Geaam, the Lebanese chef who arrived in France, homeless and with no money to his name and less than 20 years later became the only Lebanese chef to be awarded a Michelin star.
Madrid Fusión Alimentos de España president José Carlos Capel described Geaam as a singular chef with a Mediterranean soul during his introduction on the first day of Madrid Fusión. It is true that everything about this chef’s journey is unique – born in Liberia and raised in Lebanon, he lived through two civil wars before he travelled to Europe in his early twenties.
Making his first appearance at Madrid Fusión Alimentos de España, Geaam said his intention is to tell a story through his cooking. “I try to tell my story from when I was a kid,” he said. “My dream was to come to Europe and learn how to cook French food.”
He travelled to France when he was 22 years old – arriving with one bag and one big dream to cook. “I started working as a dishwasher and it was difficult to find a place in Paris, the capital of gastronomy – I just worked very hard I cooked the way I remembered my mother’s cooking.”
Through sheer determination, passion and graft he opened his restaurant Alan Geaam 18 years after and in 2018 he was awarded the Michelin star. “This was my dream; I couldn’t believe it,” he said.
On stage, he demonstrated his very personal approach to cooking – celebrating his Lebanese heritage while respecting French traditions and technique. Cooking a dish of lamb kofta and carrots he described as simple, “but a lot of things happen; the colours from the Mediterranean, the techniques and the spices,” he said.
His intention is to cook with emotion; he wants the diner to sense this emotion when they taste his food. “I like it when the customer can understand what goes on in my head when I cook for them,” he said. “This is my way to tell my story, French food with Lebanese memories.”