Recipes for success: Lebanese-Australian head pastry chef of Harrods offers advice, a cookies recipe

Recipes for success: Lebanese-Australian head pastry chef of Harrods offers advice, a cookies recipe
The Lebanese-Australian head pastry chef of Harrods offers advice and also shared a cookie recipe with Arab News. (Matt Russell)
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Updated 28 January 2024
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Recipes for success: Lebanese-Australian head pastry chef of Harrods offers advice, a cookies recipe

Recipes for success: Lebanese-Australian head pastry chef of Harrods offers advice, a cookies recipe
  • The Lebanese-Australian head pastry chef of historic luxury department store Harrods in London offers advice and a tasty Anzac cookies recipe 

DUBAI: Philip Khoury’s is a true success story. His Lebanese parents fled their native country at the onset of its brutal civil war and moved all the way to Australia. “I think their intention was always to go back, and like everyone, they thought the war would end,” Khoury tells Arab News. “I think everyone has a troubled relationship with Lebanon.”   

Khoury always had an appetite for food — inspired especially by visits to his grandparents’ home in Lebanon. “I definitely get it from my family and my big Arab upbringing,” he says.  




Philip Khoury has always had an appetite for food — inspired especially by visits to his grandparents’ home in Lebanon. (Matt Russell)

About five years ago, Khoury was visiting London, where he met the head pastry chef of the world- famous UK department store, Harrods, a popular destination for Khaleeji tourists. A few days later, he was offered that coveted role himself when the other man was promoted. Khoury was 29.  

Aside from baking classic desserts, Khoury has infused some of his sweet treats with ingredients associated with the region, such as pomegranate molasses and orange blossom. “We feel very close to our Middle Eastern customers,” he says.  

The patissier recently published a plant-based cookery book, “A New Way To Bake,” introducing novel, sustainable ways of baking dishes without eggs or dairy products. “It’s not the only way. It’s not the best way. It’s just another way,” he explains. “We have done things with eggs and dairy for so long, and I think we never questioned it. Eggs and dairy exist in our diets for good reason. But we never asked what it would look like without them.” 

Here, Khoury discusses his dessert-loving family, the one strict policy he follows in the kitchen, and shares his recipe for Anzac biscuits, an Aussie-Kiwi delicacy. 

Q: What’s your earliest food memory?   

A: It’s probably the big sweet trays at my grandparents’ house. Also, my mom always used to wrap tahini halawa, honey and banana in a little sandwich for me, and that was a dessert. 

When you started out as a professional, what was the most common mistake you made?   

Young chefs, myself included, always have a tendency to overcomplicate things. There’s a level of ambition and sophistication that wants to be expressed, but real sophistication comes from saying the most with a few ingredients.  

What one ingredient can instantly improve any dish? 

As a pastry chef, salt is definitely my secret weapon. The other would be vanilla; it’s a beautiful rare ingredient that has been cheapened by countless imitations. But when you have real vanilla paste and vanilla extract coming from real vanilla beans, that’s a secret weapon.   

Are you a disciplinarian in the kitchen? Do you shout a lot? Or are you more laidback?  

I’ve been in kitchens where there’s shouting. We have a very strict policy of no shouting. I don’t believe in it. I don’t think you get the best out of people by berating them. You have to take them on the journey, which is more difficult. But a culture of respect and patience is absolutely the right way to go. 

When you go out to eat, do you find yourself critiquing the food?    

Yes, on some level, but I never like to express it. I’m there to enjoy it. Most of the time, I’m just grateful someone’s cooking for me. 

What’s your top tip for aspiring chefs?     

Eat out as much as you can. Traveling is a form of education and it’s one that I’ve invested heavily in. How do you know what’s good unless you’ve tried something that you really enjoyed? So you need to get out and taste as much as you can.   

Chef Philip’s Anzac biscuits 




Chef Philip’s Anzac biscuits. (Supplied)​​

INGREDIENTS: 

65g muscovado sugar; 100g superfine caster sugar; 30g golden (or agave) syrup; 60g water; 60g extra virgin olive oil; 1g sea salt; 150g plain flour; 5g bicarbonate of soda; 90g porridge oats; 80g desiccated coconut 

INSTRUCTIONS: 

1. Add the sugars, syrup, water, olive oil and sea salt to a large bowl and whisk until fully combined and there are no oily streaks. This is your syrup. 

2. In another large bowl, gently whisk the flour, bicarbonate of soda, oats and coconut together. 

3. Add the syrup to the dry ingredients and mix until a dough forms, then leave to rest for 30 minutes. 

4. Preheat oven to 180°C fan (350°F/gas 4). Use a 6-cm spring-loaded scoop or weigh out 60g pieces of dough and roll into balls. Arrange on a large baking sheet, lined with parchment paper, 5cm apart. 

5. Bake until the cookies are evenly golden all over. 10 minutes for a chewy cookie or 12 minutes for a crispy one. 

6. The cookies will look puffed up when you take them out of the oven, but they will deflate slightly and become crackly once they are completely cooled on the baking sheet or wire rack. Can be stored in an airtight container for up to five days. 


Sofia Carson shows off Elie Saab gown on the red carpet

Sofia Carson shows off Elie Saab gown on the red carpet
Updated 10 sec ago
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Sofia Carson shows off Elie Saab gown on the red carpet

Sofia Carson shows off Elie Saab gown on the red carpet

DUBAI: US actress Sofia Carson showed off a gown by Lebanese designer Elie Saab at the closing ceremony of the 77th annual Cannes Film Festival.

The star, who has showed off Lebanese labels on multiple red carpets in the past, opted for an olive-toned ensemble from the designer’s Spring/ Summer 2024 couture collection.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by ELIE SAAB (@eliesaabworld)

Styled by Erin Walsh, Carson posed for photos on the red carpet in the look that featured a draped skirt and embellishments on the neckline.

The latest red carpet appearance proves Carson is something of a fan of Lebanon’s couturiers — In 2022 the “Purple Hearts” actress was spotted in New York wearing an ensemble by Zuhair Murad. Carson attended the Global Citizen Festival in a coordinating look from Murad’s Resort 2023 collection. The outfit featured an embellished crop top and mini skirt set with matching thigh-high leather boots.

In late 2023, the actress cut an elegant figure in a Zuhair Murad gown at the second annual Cam for a Cause event in memory of her former co-star Cameron Boyce, who died at the age of 20 due to an epileptic seizure.

Fast forward to 2024 and the now-concluded Cannes Film Festival has played host to a number of Arab-created looks.

Saudi designer Eman Al-Ajlan dressed Leomie Anderson. (Getty Images)

Saudi designer Eman Al-Ajlan dressed British model and TV presenter Leomie Anderson in a structured look featuring a mini dress with a net-like skirt fitted underneath at the 2024 amfAR Gala in Cannes.

A few celebrities opted for gowns by Murad at the same event, including German model Toni Garrn, sports commentator Alex Scott and Brazilian model Thayna Soares.

Meanwhile, German model Kim Dammer dazzled on the red carpet in a glamorous halter-neck black gown, intricately embroidered with geometric shapes by Lebanese couturier Rami Kadi. Lebanese designer Nicolas Jebran was championed by Turkish actress Hande Ercel, who wore a black gown adorned with red and blue beads.

Egyptian actress Yasmine Sabri was also in attendance, wearing a sparkling silver dress by Lebanese designer Jean Pierre Khoury. The dress featured thousands of mirrored tube beads hand-sewn onto a corseted silhouette, according to the fashion house.


British-Pakistani opera singer receives royal honor for recording national anthem post-coronation

British-Pakistani opera singer receives royal honor for recording national anthem post-coronation
Updated 25 May 2024
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British-Pakistani opera singer receives royal honor for recording national anthem post-coronation

British-Pakistani opera singer receives royal honor for recording national anthem post-coronation
  • Saira Peter says she is privileged to contribute her voice to British government’s public events, citizenship ceremonies
  • She also recorded ‘God Save the Queen’ in 2018 and received acknowledgement and gratitude of Queen Elizabeth II

ISLAMABAD: A British-Pakistani Sufi Opera singer, Saira Peter, announced in a video message circulated on Saturday she received a letter of appreciation from Buckingham Palace for recording the British national anthem, “God Save the King,” following the coronation of King Charles III.
The British king’s coronation took place last May at Westminster Abbey in London. The event brought leaders and high-profile personalities from around the world and marked his official accession to the throne after the passing of Queen Elizabeth II in September 2022.
Upon receiving the recording, performed in the soprano vocal range, the highest of the female voice types in classical singing, the king sent Peter a letter conveying his good wishes and sincere thanks for her public services.
She also received a signed photo card from him and Queen Camilla.
“I want to share with all my followers how excited I am to receive a letter and card of appreciation and gratitude from His Majesty King Charles the Third,” Peter said in the video, where she mentioned she was Pakistan’s first opera singer. “This arrived in response to my civic service of recording the British national anthem, ‘God Save the King.’”
“Being British-Pakistani, I feel so privileged to contribute my skill and voice to the British government’s public events and citizenship ceremonies,” she added.
Peter informed the British national anthem was recorded at the request of UK Government offices at Hastings Town Hall in East Sussex. The recording is now used across her adopted country for official government events.
Previously, she recorded “God Save the Queen” in 2018, making her the first Asian and the only Pakistani officially invited to undertake the task. Peter also received acknowledgment and gratitude from the late queen.
Born in Karachi, the opera singer told Arab News during her visit to Pakistan last year she used to sing in church choirs and began her Western classical journey, learning from Paul Knight, a disciple of Benjamin Britten, in London in the early 2000s after her family moved there.
Peter’s father, Zafar Francis, pioneered the Noor Jehan Arts Center in London, which was opened by British superstar Sir Cliff Richard in 1998.
She is the director of the performing arts center and teaches both Western and Pakistani classical music there.
She said her work in Britain was projecting “a positive image of Pakistan.”


UK literary festival cancels sponsor after pro-Palestine boycott

UK literary festival cancels sponsor after pro-Palestine boycott
Updated 25 May 2024
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UK literary festival cancels sponsor after pro-Palestine boycott

UK literary festival cancels sponsor after pro-Palestine boycott
  • Speakers, performers pull out from scheduled appearances in protest over Baillie Gifford sponsorship
  • Boycott organizer: Hay must shun future sponsorship by companies with links to ‘Israeli occupation, apartheid or genocide’

LONDON: The UK’s Hay literary festival has dropped its main sponsor over a boycott criticizing its links to Israel and fossil fuel companies.

Speakers and performers at the festival pulled out from scheduled appearances in protest over investment firm Baillie Gifford’s sponsorship of the event, The Guardian reported.

On Friday, the festival said it was canceling its sponsorship deal with the firm.

Singer Charlotte Church and comedian Nish Kumar had earlier pulled out of appearing at the event.

In a statement on her social media channels, Church said she had taken part in the boycott “in solidarity with the people in Palestine and in protest of the artwashing and greenwashing that is apparent in this sponsorship.”

Fossil Free Books, the group that has led the campaign against Baillie Gifford’s sponsorship of the event, has demanded that the firm divest from companies “that profit from Israeli apartheid, occupation and genocide.”

More than 700 writers and publishing professionals have signed a statement by FFB concerning the Hay festival campaign.

Kumar shared the statement online in announcing the cancelation of his appearance.

An FFB organizer said: “Hay festival is right to listen to the concerns of hundreds of book workers who are working to create fossil-free and genocide-free festivals.

“Hay must now develop a fundraising policy that rules out any future sponsorship by companies that invest or profit from the fossil fuel industry, Israeli occupation, apartheid or genocide, and any other human rights abuses.”

Hay CEO Julie Finch said the festival’s decision to cancel the sponsorship deal with the firm was taken “in light of claims raised by campaigners and intense pressure on artists to withdraw.”

She added: “Our first priority is to our audience and our artists. Above all else, we must preserve the freedom of our stages and spaces for open debate and discussion, where audiences can hear a range of perspectives.”

Baillie Gifford began its relationship with the festival in 2016 as a principal sponsor. A spokesperson said: “It is regrettable our sponsorship with the festival cannot continue.”


Saudi’s ‘Norah’ receives the Special Mention accolade at Cannes

Saudi’s ‘Norah’ receives the Special Mention accolade at Cannes
Updated 25 May 2024
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Saudi’s ‘Norah’ receives the Special Mention accolade at Cannes

Saudi’s ‘Norah’ receives the Special Mention accolade at Cannes

DUBAI: Saudi film “Norah,” starring actress Maria Bahrawi, this week received the Special Mention accolade, which recognizes films for outstanding achievements, at the 77th Cannes Film Festival’s Un Certain Regard awards.

The cast and crew, accompanied by director Tawfik Al-Zaidi, stepped onto the stage to accept the accolade in front of a full house.

The film, shot entirely in AlUla, is set in 1990s Saudi Arabia when conservatism ruled and the professional pursuit of all art, including painting, was frowned upon. Besides Bahrawi, the movie also stars Yaqoub Al-Farhan and Abdullah Al-Satian. It follows the story of Norah and failed artist Nader as they encourage each other to realize their artistic potential in rural Saudi Arabia.

“Norah” had its official screening at the festival on Thursday, becoming the first film from the Kingdom to screen as part of the official calendar at the event.

The movie was backed by the Red Sea Fund — one of the Red Sea Film Foundation’s programs — and was filmed entirely in AlUla in northwest Saudi Arabia with an all-Saudi cast and a 40 percent Saudi crew.

Un Certain Regard’s mission is to highlight new trends in cinema and encourage innovative cinematic works.

Chaired by Canadian actor, director, screenwriter and producer Xavier Dolan, the jury included French Senegalese screenwriter and director Maimouna Doucoure, Moroccan director, screenwriter and producer Asmae El Moudir, German-Luxembourg actress Vicky Krieps, and American film critic, director and writer Todd McCarthy.

Chinese director Guan Hu’s “Black Dog” won the top prize in the Un Certain Regard section.

Marking Guan’s debut at Cannes, the film follows a former convict who forms an unexpected bond with the titular animal while clearing stray dogs in his remote hometown on the edge of the Gobi Desert.

The jury prize was awarded to “The Story of Souleymane,” directed by Boris Lojkine, marking his return to the festival after a decade since his 2014 feature “Hope.”

The film portrays the journey of a Guinean food delivery man who must create a compelling narrative for his asylum application interview in Lyon within a two-day timeframe.


Hollywood’s Will Smith and Martin Lawrence hit ‘Bad Boys’ red carpet in Riyadh

Hollywood’s Will Smith and Martin Lawrence hit ‘Bad Boys’ red carpet in Riyadh
Updated 25 May 2024
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Hollywood’s Will Smith and Martin Lawrence hit ‘Bad Boys’ red carpet in Riyadh

Hollywood’s Will Smith and Martin Lawrence hit ‘Bad Boys’ red carpet in Riyadh

RIYADH: Cameras flashed and crowds cheered as Will Smith and Martin Lawrence hit the red carpet at Roshn Front’s VOX Cinema in Riyadh on Friday night to mark the fourth installment of the “Bad Boys” film franchise.

“Bad Boys: Ride or Die” arrives 30 years after Mike Lowrey and Marcus Burnett, played by Smith and Lawrence, respectively, teamed up as the infamous buddy cops.

The latest film, exclusively in cinemas on June 6, shows how the characters have changed over the years.

“Their backs have gotten weaker, and their knees hurt more,” Smith said jokingly.

“Part of what we wanted to do with the franchise is to have the characters grow in an age-appropriate way,” he told Arab News.

“We are trusting that the audience wants to grow with us, wants to go with us, and wants to follow the natural progression of life and what these characters would be going through.”

The film continues to mix action, drama and comedy, but also allows the characters to grow and develop spiritually.

“The core of the movie is about friendship, love, and family,” Smith said.

“And would you ride or die for your partner?” Lawrence added.

The film builds on the success of the third installment, “Bad Boys For Life,” released in 2020, with the directorial duo for the latest production, Bilall Fallah and Adil El-Arbi,  reportedly inspired by video games.

Lawrence said the “top notch” directors were great to work with, and inspired the actors to “come up with magic.”

Smith added: “It’s interesting working with non-American directors; there’s such a different perspective… You know, they were (young) when the first movie came out, so there’s such a reverence for the original films. They’re bringing that energy, but they also want to put their signature on it. Energetically, it was fun to work with them, and also their openness to the spirituality of the film was also refreshing.”

Action films, whether “Mission Impossible” or the more recent “Monkey Man,” have enjoyed a revival in recent years, and both actors believe the genre will always have a place in the industry.

“The physical wars of humanity represent the inner wars that we go through. So, I think human beings are always going to like watching a good visualized external battle that they can relate to,” Smith said.

“We all know internally that life is kind of a series of ordeals. How do you manage these ordeals and put things back together? And I think that this movie is a comedic look at two people trying to be friends, surviving ordeals together, which changes them without life breaking their relationship. It’s like a standard bromance.”

With the film premiere taking place in Saudi Arabia’s capital, both stars expressed their excitement over initiatives underway in the Kingdom.

Smith said: “I performed at Soundstorm and everything is brand new. The energy of 40 and 50-year-old people in Saudi is like the energy of 20 and 30-year-old people in America.

“It’s like there is this powerful sense of being on the cusp of the future. It’s showing up in music, it’s showing up in art, it’s showing up in architecture, and hopefully shows up at the cinema tonight.”