I am very grateful that I have a job that I love so much – it has become my life! Here’s what I get up to on an average day.
6am – My alarm goes off and I jump straight into the shower. I use my Nespresso machine to make myself a double espresso to kick start my day, then I head to the gym for a daily workout.
7am - I start my training with my coach for 1hr to do some body strengthening then start my daily run on a treadmill between 10/15km on week days.
9:45am – When I leave the gym I make my way to the office, calling my brothers for a quick family catch up. When I get behind my desk the chefs make me some poached eggs sprinkled with zaatar and I give Chaker, my business partner, a ring so that we can update each other on any work matters. I sit down with Kasia, my assistant, to go through all the meetings and outstanding issues I have to deal with. I then go through my emails, and make and return calls.
I have just come back from one of the most memorable experiences of my life- the Oman Desert Marathon, which is a 165 km race run over 6 days. I ran for 4-8 hours each day carrying my 20lbs of equipment on my back, such as my sleeping bag and the food that would keep me going throughout this adventure.
On day 1 I found it really tough – it was so hot and I really felt like I was hitting a wall. However, that evening, whilst resting at the camp, something changed making this a run like no other for me. There was a 58 year old, blind lady, Odile, who was also doing the marathon accompanied by a guide. Unfortunately the guide injured his knee so had to drop out. One of the organisers announced this and asked if anyone would be willing to volunteer to help Odile round. There were a lot of blank faces whilst everyone looked around the room, but I saw it as an amazing opportunity so happily volunteered.
I am so excited by the launch of my second cookbook, Comptoir Libanais Express that is out TODAY!! This book is inspired by the best dishes and ingredients from the Lebanon. It’s about simple ingredients and taking the hassle out of cooking delicious, authentic meals as part of your hectic daily life.
I’ve put together a competition that I hope you will all join me by entering. It’s called COOK TWEET EAT and is basically a great way for me to see the dishes you cook from my book. I mean, I really enjoy creating the book, but what I love the most is getting feedback and photos from those who have cooked from it. Tweet @comptoirlibanai and myself @tonykitous a photo of your creation and I’m going to pick a winner every week until the end of October. That’s 5 prizes up for grabs to win a meal for 2 at any of our Comptoir Libanais restaurants. Seems only fair that if you’ve cooked a masterpiece, we reward you by cooking for you in return!
Last night was a big one for myself and the Comptoir team. We were delighted to have won the award for Innovation at The Lunch Business Awards 2014, held in Islington last night. The awards are the first of their kind in this sector, offering a fantastic way to celebrate success in the eating out of home market. We were up against some other great brands – Hai Street Kitchen and Timberyard – so it means even more to me to have been held in such high regard.
Bread is a very special thing to me, a food I would never waste and I’m sure this comes from my upbringing. Whether it’s served fresh in a basket or crisp and tossed into a simple salad like a crouton, it’s the one food I could never live without. So the fattoush salad, perhaps the most famous of all Arabic salads, brings together bread and green freshness in a way that is always a delight.
Lebanese sausages are cured, beef sausages that are heavily spiced, generally with cumin and sumac; they can also be fairly hot. Although you can eat them as they are, as you would chorizo, they are quite hard and are best lightly cooked so that the fat releases its delicious flavours and the sausages soften. If you can’t get hold of these ones, choose any spicy cured beef sausage, seasoned with chilli, instead.
Puree herbs like thyme and mint in the blender with oil (add slowly, to taste), season with salt then store in a sterilised jar in the fridge for up to 2 weeks for a ready-made flavour enhancer.
Ideal for a quick sauce to add flavour to stews, potatoes, soups, chicken and fish.
There are literally hundreds of varieties of meatballs (kofte), not simply in Lebanon, but across the whole of the Middle East, as well as parts of Asia. Simple, hearty and incredibly adaptable on the flavour front, it’s not hard to see why meatballs are so universally loved.
For a really tasty breakfast, mix thick yoghurt with mashed fruit and sugar -to taste – the night before – the fruit flavour infuses the yoghurt, giving it a great, refreshing taste.
Worth getting out of bed for.