ANISSA HELOU is a chef, food writer, journalist, broadcaster, consultant and blogger focusing on the cuisines and culinary heritage of the Middle East, Mediterranean and North Africa. Born and raised between Beirut, Lebanon, and Mashta el-Helou, Syria, she knows the Mediterranean as only a well-traveled native can.
Ms. Helou is the author of numerous award-winning cookbooks including Levant, The Fifth Quarter, An Offal Cookbook; Modern Mezze; Savory Baking from the Mediterranean; Mediterranean Street Food; Café Morocco; and Lebanese Cuisine, which was a finalist for the prestigious Andre Simon awards and chosen as one of the Los Angeles Times’ favorite books in 1998. Lebanese Cuisine remains the classic and most comprehensive work on this increasingly popular cuisine. The Fifth Quarter, An Offal Cookbook; Modern Mezze; and Mediterranean Street Food have received Gourmand World Cookbook awards. The latter was included in Food & Wine magazine’s selection of the Best of the Best for 2002. Savory Baking from the Mediterranean, was chosen by NPR, The New York Times, the Chicago Tribune, and Food & Wine as one of the best cookbooks for 2007 and Levant was chosen as best of the year by several publications including the Observer Food Monthly and Australian Gourmet Traveller.
An accomplished photographer and intrepid traveler, she runs culinary tours to various Mediterranean countries. She also teaches cooking classes and was the featured chef in the travel/cooking Show, Al Chef Yaktachef (meaning the chef discovers), that was shown on Abu Dhabi TV in 2010. She has also featured as one of the judges/mentors to a team of chefs in Taste Arabia, which aired on Al Nahar TV in Egypt and OSN all over the Arab world.
Helou was also the first ever chef-in-residence in Leighton House during their Nour festival in November 2011. In 2013 she helped a group of Egyptian entrepreneurs open Koshari Street in Covent Garden where they serve her gourmet version of Koshari, the ultimate Egyptian street food. Koshari Street was recently chosen by the FT as one of London’s 5 best street foods.
Ms. Helou is fluent in French, Arabic, and English and soon to be fluent in Italian as well. She has recently sold her loft in London to build her dream house overlooking the Mediterranean in Sicily where she will have a teaching kitchen.