I met Kamal Mouzawak at Tawlet, one of the six restaurants he owns in Beirut and elsewhere in Lebanon. We found a common language right away – he is a visionary social activist, a restaurateur, and, most of all, passionate food lover with a deep knowledge of Levantine cuisine. Since I came to Beirut last Sunday, I’ve been really impressed by how the food is better here than at Lebanese restaurants in Paris or London. Kamal confirms my theory that replicating the authentic Lebanese cooking elsewhere is impossible. The very spirit of Lebanese cuisine is about transmitting the knowledge from generation to generation and it’s something you can’t measure or write down.
Kamal opened the first Beirut’s farmers market Souk el Tayeb in 2004, that highlighted rural produce in the urban environment. In 2009 he opened the first Tawlet, farmer’s kitchen where every day different cook comes to cook and showcase her region’s cooking. The day I had lunch at Tawlet, Dima from Damascus (who actually works for the project full time) was cooking Syrian food. It was incredibly delicious and, I won’t exaggerate, one of the best meals of my life. So much flavour in every bite. And thanks to that humble bite, Kamal is empowering the most vulnerable of our society, women from rural areas and refugees, who wouldn’t be heard otherwise.