Demystifying Middle-Eastern Cuisine


Scroll Down
The essential ingredient in any cook’s repertoire is nafas or soul. One can be professionallytrained and know the finest cooking techniques, but if one does not cook with nafas–tapping into the deepest dimension of one’s self, the soul, and stirring passion into the food they are preparing–then they are merely offering food rather than life-affirming nourishment. Food is not just for the body but also for mind and soul.
Bethany Kehdy posing with fig

An Unconven­tional Chef

Lebanese-American culinary queen.
Impossible to pigeonhole, Bethany has had an unconventional journey on the road to becoming a chef. A former Miss Lebanon for Miss World 2002, Bethany grew up on a dairy farm in Lebanon during the country's civil war, learning from her father, grandmother and aunts (via osmosis) the ancient culinary recipes and practices of her heritage. A budding real estate agent and mortgage broker in Miami by 2006, she would find refuge in her kitchen on weekends, teaching herself to cook the dishes of her childhood. A yearlong sojourn in Hawaii followed where, with her entrepreneurial skills and voracious appetite for all things gourmet already beginning to show, she was offered an opportunity to manage Maui's The Lahaina Store Grille and Oyster Bar.

Relocating to London in 2008, Bethany took to the internet to pen what would become the popular blog, Dirty Kitchen Secrets, a platform she used to share her unique twists on childhood recipes, insights and memories. Soon thereafter, she was offered and delivered on her first cookbook deal, with a second one following quickly, all this while she juggled two businesses - Food Blogger Connect, Europe’s first food blogging conference and Taste Lebanon, boutique culinary-focused tourism company. 

In 2020, with the global health pandemic in full swing, and having relocated to Dubai, Bethany trial launched DAYMA – a Levantine dark kitchen delivery concept. Despite delivering best-sellers that people continue to ask for, the offering proved to be too sophisticated for delivery at the consistently high level demanded.

More than a decade later, having had the opportunity to hone her proudly self-taught skills under various chefs at Michelin-starred restaurants, including Greg Malouf, she continues to push her boundaries and the boundaries of her beloved cuisine.

A Trailblazing approach

...with an homage to ancient technology

As someone who grew up on a farm in Lebanon, Bethany prefers to avoid the over-manipulated approach, choosing to honour nature’s innate creative force to deliver dishes that are minimal yet bold, imaginative, vividly tantalising and wholly satiating.

Bethany’s food and cooking style is rooted in historical context and is both pioneering and authentic in its outlook and flavour. Her cooking methodology mirrors her Levantine background with a return to the forgotten ways of our ancestors and what she has termed ‘ancient technology’, i.e., a heavy reliance on seasonality, plants, pantry and provisions, combined with a passionate respect for offal, neglected cuts and long-lost ingredients. She applies imaginative, thoughtful and trailblazing approaches to familiar dishes and ingredients, developing novel, yet deeply rooted creations.
I believe that cuisine, especially the cuisine of West Asia and North Africa, should evolve as it always has. I also think it’s important that we become acquainted with the roots and history first in order to build on this knowledge and maintain the cuisine’s soul essence.
—Bethany Kehdy

A Thought leader

Multicultural Perspective

As a native of both the ‘East and West’ by virtue of being born to a Lebanese father and an American mother, and having lived across the region and travelled the world extensively, Bethany uses her pen and plate to unpack the region’s narrative, moving away from the term Middle East* to debunk the mysteries and misconceptions surrounding the cuisine of WANA. Bethany leans on the past through immersive research, including reviews of historical texts, and engages directly with culinary artisans to authentically represent the complexity of this ancient, layered cuisine.

Bethany’s dishes and recipes are conversation points.
—Friday Magazine
Knowledgeable on the region's geography, history and anthropology, Bethany uses a multi-cultural perspective to challenge hyper-nationalistic food prejudices in the region and popularised misinterpretations by non-natives, continuously striving to deconstruct and depoliticise the regional food narrative by authentically highlighting the cuisine's commonalities and evolution, using recipes, prose and plate to provide supportive, evocative insights.

Inter­nationally sought-after

Imaginative and inspirational culinary expression… Bethany has an unprecedented way of looking at our cuisine and putting it in thought-provoking context
—Balade, NYC

Bethany has cooked and consulted for restaurants, gourmet events, and prominent figures the world over including the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, the Ambani family in Mumbai, Balade in New York, Carousel, Jago, Kinovino and Soho House in London, Maydan in Washington D.C., NEOM in Saudi Arabia, Phoenix in Mykonos, the Sani Festival in Thessaloniki, Cook For Beirut and many Dubai restaurant pop-ups. 

She has also managed the 500-seated Lahaina Store Grill & Oyster Bar in Maui, Hawaii (now owned and operated by Mic Fleetwood). Her swinging supper club, Mawsam (Season) in Beirut and other international cities, is a consistent sell-out. Bethany’s chef services range from corporate and private events, supper clubs, pop-up residencies and at-home chef-for-hire, through to cooking classes, brand ambassadorship, concept/ menu development, and charitable causes.

Bethany splits her time between Dubai, Beirut and London.

Bethany on the set of the Sunday Brunch with Host Simon Rimmer
Bethany standing in front of mirror


Best-selling Cookbook Author

Bethany has published two cookbooks on the cuisine of WANA which have become classics and cover recipes, stories and anthropology of the cuisine. The Jewelled Kitchen (2013) and The Jewelled Table (2018), are distributed worldwide with several translations, published in their 2nd and 4th editions, respectively, amongst being selected as one of the top cookbooks by NYT to bagging a prestigious Gourmand Award and featured in countless leading international publications.


The Jewelled Kitchen

The cuisines from the Middle East and North Africa share many diverse influences and gorgeous key ingredients and spices, such as pomegranates, figs, pine nuts, saffron and sumac. Passionate about food and her heritage, this former Miss Lebanon showcases the sheer brilliance of the dishes of the Levant. All the cuisines of the region are covered, including Egyptian, Palestinian, Syrian, Turkish, Iraqi and Jordanian, and all the recipes are easy to make. You'll find yourself drawn into a whole new world and a whole new way of cooking.

Shop this book

The Jewelled Table

Middle Eastern food is meant for sharing, and in The Jewelled Table, Bethany Kehdy departs from the common mezze theme to explore the way locals cook, eat and entertain at home.
The book and its chapters are ordered in the style one goes about ‘jewelling’ a table in the Middle East, whether for everyday meals or for celebratory feasts, always much inspired by the seasons and the ritual of hospitality.
Shop this book