Round table discusses upcoming creation of online Lebanese food database
LAU’s IHTMS is expected to receive a Tourism Ministry grant to develop a Lebanese food website.
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The Lebanese Ministry of Tourism is expected to grant LAU’s Institute of Hospitality and Tourism Management Studies 25 million L.L. to develop a website with photos and recipes of traditional Lebanese food.
The project was tackled during a round-table discussion called “Food is Identity” organized by the institute with the collaboration of the ministry and the Syndicate of Lebanese Restaurants in late November 2008 at the Business School.
According to Dr. Said Ladki, chair of Hospitality, Management and Accounting in Beirut and IHTMS director, negotiations are still being carried out concerning the date of getting the grant and the ownership of the website.
Ladki and other faculty members will mentor undergraduate and graduate LAU students who will be responsible for the site’s development.
In a recent interview, Ladki explained that the ministries of Tourism, and Economy and Trade, are interested in such a project because Lebanon is currently applying to the World Trade Organization. According to him, the creation of a portfolio of all traditional Lebanese dishes is important at this stage to ensure that the country’s cuisine “will not get lost in the global village.” “Otherwise, the countries that are already [WTO] members can label our dishes as theirs,” he said.
During the round-table discussion, other experts also stressed the importance of protecting the identity of Lebanese food and using it for attracting tourists.
Bassel Al Khatib, national project coordinator in the United Nations Industrial Development Organization, talked about the growing demand of Lebanese food around the world. “About 12,000 Lebanese restaurants function abroad, particularly in the United States, Canada and Europe,” said Paul Ariss, head of the Syndicate of Lebanese Restaurants. According to Nada Sardouk, Tourism Ministry’s director general, the reason behind Lebanese cuisine’s global reach is its variety of healthy appetizers that satisfy all tastes.
At the reception following the event, attendees savored Lebanese specialties made by Food Preparation I students.
According to Ladki, the institute will organize other activities on the same issue in the future to encourage the Lebanese community to document recipes and get engaged in protecting the nation’s cuisine.