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Chef Ramzi launches new Lebanese cuisine app

The app also offers full color images of dishes from across the country.

BEIT MERY: Renowned Lebanese gastronomist Chef Ramzi launched a new food application Thursday, bringing some of the country’s culinary traditions to the convenience of a touch screen.

“I want people to be able to see my recipes on a screen in their kitchen,” says Ramzi Choueiri, better known by his nickname, Chef Ramzi, the namesake of the application. “You can’t find this food in restaurants.”

The app is based on his book, The Culinary Heritage of Lebanon, a collection of more than 600 recipes from every region of Lebanon – from local seafood dishes originating in the coastal cities of Tyre, Sidon and Tripoli to bread made in the stone oven tanour in rural villages such as Wadi Khaled and the scenic mountain town of Jezzine, famous for its tableware.

Chef Ramzi’s compiled recipes are based on a three-year journey through Lebanon between 2000 and 2003, in which he learned about and documented traditional recipes from generations past.

Lebanon’s iconic chef left the country toward the end of the Civil War, and went abroad to study business in the gastronomic capital of Lyon, France and then went on to learn culinary arts at Bournemouth College in the U.K. Upon his return home in 1993, he was dismayed to see, along with postwar reconstruction, the proliferation of foreign and fast food restaurants, which he saw as a threat to Lebanon’s culinary heritage and traditional healthy diet.

Like the book, Chef Ramzi’s app divides recipes into different regions as well as categories of food, and it includes colorful pictures of dishes, as well as Lebanon coastal and mountain landscapes. But unlike the 500-page hardcover cookbook, the application can be easily carried around in one’s pocket and includes video commentary by the famous chef.

Several years ago, Chef Ramzi says he approached large mobile phone companies to ask if he could put his book in digital form, but was told the technology wasn’t available for such a project. With the arrival of the iPad two years ago, he seized the opportunity.

With the help of a friend, TV producer Tarek-Gabriel Sikias, he spent six months developing the application.

Without any prior publicity, the application has already been downloaded more than 2,000 times, mainly by customers in the United States who stumbled upon it while browsing the Apple Store.

The application can be purchased for $3.99 at the Apple Store and Android market, and it is available in four languages – English, French, Arabic and Spanish. It includes over 300 recipes, videos, photos and audio commentaries.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on January 27, 2012, on page 12.

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