About

 

Bethany Firefly About

Marhaba. That’s hello in Arabic. Pronounced midway, at the h, with a sound that can sometimes closely resemble the same sound one makes just before they whack you across the face with a lugi. It’s a beautiful language though, trust me. You can relax and take comfort in the fact that my name, Bethany, does not necessitate the same level of vocal cord exercise which means you’ll be able drop it often.

In short, I’m a thirty something Lebanese-American with a disoriented “yank” accent and a “European” appearance. This often leads people to hypothesise that I’m but a mere ‘wanna-be-Arab’ (the only apparent one, for that matter) trying to cash in on culinary fuel. That is somewhat true, the latter part that is, though I’ll hone in on the first part.

I was born in the South, the deep south of the United States of America to a proper Southern belle (insert Southern accent) from Houston, Texas with the full Scarlet Johansen specs; sparkling blue-eyes, shiny blond mane and that pug nose everyone in Lebanon covets and some eventually buy. My proud Lebanese father had ventured to Houston for college to specialise in oil and gas law (what else of course!). They fell in love and the inevitable happened; I was born the lucky eldest. Four years on, with two children and another on the way (yes rabbits, I know) they separated and I was whisked away to Lebanon.

To make an incredibly long and drawn out story short, I was raised in Lebanon by my father, grandparents and aunts. Growing up in Lebanon, I spent a lot of time watching and learning via osmosis the art of Middle Eastern food preparation, cooking and preserving from my grandmother, dad and aunties. During the Lebanese civil war, in the mid eighties, we retreated into the mountains where my father set up an eclectic farm on the ancestral land. For a great part of my childhood I helped to water orchards, harvest fruits and vegetables, chase after chickens, make cheese and even milk the odd cow. This has influenced and encouraged me to learn and understand more about the culture, history, and importance behind the food processes with the goal of one day setting up a business venture around it.

I launched DKS in 2008 upon my arrival to the U.K. Prior to that I was living in Maui, Hawaii where I worked as the Operations Manager of Lahaina Store Grille and Oyster Bar (now owned and operated by Mick Fleetwood, the musical legend himself). I spent my twenties traveling, working and living in Miami, Montreal, Houston, London, and Nice amongst other places. I learnt English as a second language at the age of 11 {punctuation (in it’s oddest form) is my forte!}. French and Arabic are my first languages, though I am now most comfortable expressing myself in English (for the most part, at least). I am fluent in all three.

I live in the West Country of England with my British husband and split my time between Lebanon, England and the rest of the world.

 

Time to blow my own trumpet!!

Since deciding to venture out on my own in this wickedly-lovely world we live in, I’ve launched Taste Lebanon culinary journeys across Lebanon, which does just as it says on the package; taste Lebanon till you cry ‘I can’t taste no more.’ I’ve also founded Food Blogger Connect, the leading international food blogging conference based in London.

I’ve had a few stints on a couple of cookery shows in the UK, including the popular Market Kitchen: Big Adventure and Perfect, and has cooked for and held live cooking demonstrations at Foodies Festival (Bristol & Battersea), Balade Restaurant (NYC)Tawlet (Beirut) & L’atelier des Chefs (London) hosted by Wines of Lebanon.I was selected by Monocle Mediterraneo 2012 as one of the four ‘Mediterranean Food Ambassadors’, representing Lebanon (a heart wrenchingly proud moment, though I have much to achieve) and I’ve been anointed ambassador of Freekehlicious in their North American and UK Market (It’s great not having to buy freekeh when you’re me!). The big boss at the Ministry of Tourism thought my knowledge of Lebanese cuisine, hospitality and culture made me useful as the ambassador and guide to Lebanon. I’ve since been involved in organising and leading press trips for the Lebanese Ministry of Tourism as well as world class hotels and other enterprises. My debut cookbook on Middle Eastern cuisine is due out Spring 2013 with Duncan Baird Publishers. I have somehow lived to tell the tale.

My work has been featured in several publications worldwide including: Conde Nast Traveller (IN) Food & Travel MagazineBon AppetitDelicious Magazine (NL)Monocle MediterraneoOlive MagazineFood MagazineThe LadyThe National (UAE)BBC Good Food Middle East,  Fatafeat, and Athens News amongst others.

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