Meet Yasmina Hayek, the culinary innovator redefining Lebanese tradition

by Staff Reporter
Yasmina Hayek,

Em Sherif, the renowned culinary institution known for its dedication to Lebanese tradition and hospitality, is helmed by Executive Chef, Yasmina Hayek who is leading a new era of innovation and expansion of this booming family business.

Raised in a family deeply rooted in the art of gastronomy, Yasmina Hayek embodies the essence of Lebanese culinary heritage while infusing it with her own creative flair. As the daughter of Mireille Hayek, the founder of Em Sherif, Yasmina is poised to carry forward the legacy of her family’s culinary empire, passing on knowledge and tradition through the female lineage.

Yasmina reflects “My mother used to love hosting themed dinner parties at home. She loved having everyone over for a big meal, and she always prepared everything herself from scratch. That was something I really admired growing up – and still do today.”

“At the beginning I wanted to be a doctor, as I always loved Science. Then I realised that I needed to find another kind of lab to work in, a happier lab. That’s why I chose to be in the kitchen. It’s a place where you can express yourself, create, grow, research etc… I also love travelling, sharing, and meeting new people and I believe that food is the perfect vector,” she adds.

Yasmina’s passion for food

From a young age, Yasmina’s passion for food and innovation has been evident. Defying stereotypes and challenges as an Arab female in a male-dominated industry, she has emerged as a trailblazer, promoting Lebanon’s culture, talent, and culinary potential on the global stage.

Yasmina’s journey to culinary excellence includes notable experiences at esteemed establishments worldwide. She honed her skills as Chef de Partie at Copenhagen’s three Michelin-starred restaurant, Geranium, and as Commis at prestigious venues in Paris, France. Her expertise extends to creating VIP brand dinners for renowned names like St. Pellegrino, McLaren, and Carolina Herrera.

In her role as Executive Chef of Em Sherif, Yasmina spearheads menu creation, execution, and team training, ensuring the highest standards of quality and authenticity across all branches of the restaurant group. Additionally, she oversees the company’s international expansion, with recent ventures including Em Sherif Deli in London’s Harrods and Beirut’s Downtown district.

A Fattet Fatayer

Yasmina is always honing her craft by bringing delicious new dishes, like one of her favourite creations “A Fattet Fatayer, which is a spinach filled pastry with yoghurt and tomato sauce. Although we are not used to have Fatayer with yoghurt, it is an exceptional combination.”

Yasmina’s is committed to redefining culinary expectations globally by showcasing the essence of Lebanese home cooking – an artform that is diminishing and one that she takes pride in upholding. Whilst preserving tradition is the cornerstone of her ethos, she is also armed with dynamic, contemporary, and innovative flair. Incorporating new culinary, style, and presentation techniques ensures that Em Sherif remains in the upper echelons both regionally and internationally.

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