Lebanese chocolaterie of LAU alumna awarded grand honor
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January 23, 2015—
Lebanese chocolaterie M de Noir, founded by LAU alumna Maya Kanaan, has been awarded the Espoir Etranger award by the Club des Croqueurs du Chocolat at the Salon du Chocolat. “They are the reference in chocolate, the crème de la crème of French society, and very knowledgeable with two decades’ experience,” says Kanaan of the organization that honored her among their 2014 awards list.
“Only a handful of chocolate makers are acknowledged each year, most of them French. I am one of three foreigners to receive an award this year,” she says, rightfully delighted by her achievement. Chocolateries do not nominate themselves for an award; rather the Club des Croqueurs du Chocolat committee becomes acquainted with international chocolate makers during their annual trade fair in Paris. “I also send them samples of my work when I create something new,” explains Kanaan, graduate and former instructor of marketing at LAU.
Her marketing degree and a subsequent M.B.A. earned in the U.S. have placed the chocolatier in good stead to run a business. “I didn’t need a financial advisor or marketing specialist, because of my studies,” says Kanaan, who had since her youth wanted to study pastry making. “My parents didn’t approve then. Working in food preparation wasn’t something to be proud of. It wasn’t fancy and sought after like it is today.”
Later in life, after earning her degrees and starting a family, Kanaan decided it was never too late to do something she loved and excelled in. “I studied at the Ritz Escoffier cooking school in Paris and took intensive courses at the École du Grand Chocolat in Valrhona, France, before opening my boutique atelier,” she recalls. Kanaan also travelled to Bologna for more specialized courses when she decided to launch a line of ice creams. “Lebanon is a hot country, so I diversified in response to the market.”
The ice creams, like the chocolate, are additive and preservative free. “Too many chocolate makers use fake colorings and flavors. We don’t. Our customers are surprised when they see that our mint and lavender ice creams are white. We don’t add colorings, so you see them at their natural state.”
Visitors to the Bayada atelier can see the chocolate-making process in detail. All the chocolates are hand made, and new flavors and collections are introduced regularly. The upcoming Valentine’s Day collection will include flavors of well-known aphrodisiacs, such as ginger, ginseng and pink pepper.
“Our Saveurs du Liban collection includes very Lebanese flavors including miskeh, fresh Lebanese mint and fennel.” The unique collection has been on sale at a Paris boutique since November.
“We may expand internationally, but our focus now is on Lebanon. We’ll be opening a new boutique in Achrafieh soon, but the chocolate will continue to be produced at the Bayada flagship,” Kanaan enthuses.
Before visiting the store, or placing a delivery order, discover all the delectable flavors and collections at www.mdenoir.com