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Corman Artisan

Interviews

March 2018

Le farinier, at the crossroads between france and lebanon

As a supplier of bakery and pastry products as well as equipment, Richard Chamaa particularly emphasizes the importance of high-quality raw materials: “The quality of any kitchen depends on the used raw materials. Whether it's the spices in a recipe, or flour or butter for a dessert, the quality of the ingredients is essential.” His company, Le Farinier, is based in Lebanon and supplies about 500 clients.

The quality of European products

The company’s main activity, as its name suggests, is the supply of flour. But Le Farinier also sells a wide range of raw materials for bakers and pastry chefs. To ensure year-round quality, Richard Chamaa mainly imports European products, especially from France.

He explains: “We have several French brands in our portfolio, such as Grands Moulins de Paris. In addition to these, we also offer some Swiss and Belgian products, like Corman butter”.

Butter, a symbol of quality

Butter is used a lot in Lebanese pastry, whether it is for making puff-pastry or for cakes, biscuits or other pastries. However, it is mainly the artisanal bakers and pastry chefs who use butter. Large retailers, which aim to sell products at the lowest possible prices, tend to use margarine.

That is why butter is so vital if you want to stand out: working with ingredients such as premium quality butter enables smaller operations to offer something different from large retailers, and highlights the excellence of made-on-the-premises products.

French specialities remain an important feature of Lebanese bakeries and pastry shops

However, traditional Lebanese bakeries have become rare. One mostly finds large bakeries that offer a fairly similar but nonetheless varied range of products: Arabic breads, all the French breads, baguettes, pastries and breakfast pastries, and also cheese and charcuterie.

The Lebanese have a fondness for French specialities: “There are a lot of French chefs working in Lebanon, and the influence of French cuisine is particularly noticeable in desserts and pastries”, notes Richard Chamaa.

One only has to look at Lebanon’s history to understand this French connection. It goes back to the First World War, when Lebanon was liberated from the Ottoman Empire. Placed under French mandate until 1943, when it became independent, the country, previously more accustomed to baklava, saw the introduction of new pastries such as flans and croissants, which are still popular today.

Pastry making is one of the traditional trades in Lebanon. Devoted to their traditions, the Lebanese love their festive celebrations, which are a perfect opportunity to enjoy time with family and friends. Local bakeries take advantage of these convivial occasions to offer holiday products or creations that combine the best of French and Lebanese influences.