From bodyguard to celebrity chef, Lebanese-born Joe Barza is a television personality and culinary consultant who is taking Lebanese cuisine into the 21st century
ORN IN TYRE, Lebanon in 1963, Joe Barza was a personal bodyguard for a key player in the Lebanese war before enrolling in a hotel school and leaving the war-torn country in 1980. He moved to South Africa and quickly progressed through the culinary ranks in the kitchens of Johannesburg International Airport.
Upon his return to Lebanon after the war, where he took up several positions as head chef, in 2010, Barza founded Joe Barza Culinary Consultancy, a company that deals with all aspects of restaurant and catering operations. He is also a member of the Academie Culinaire de France, the president of the Lebanese Chefs Association and on the organising committee of the Lebanese Salon Culinaire HORECA.
With a trademark goatee and a penchant for hats, Barza is credited for reviving Lebanese cuisine and has helped raise the profile of Middle Eastern fare across the world. To achieve this, he combines local ingredients in unconventional ways, juggling colour, flavour and presentation in order to create revolutionary dishes for the 21st century.
Recognised as a television personality, co-hosting the Middle Eastern version of Top Chef and making guest appearances all over the globe, Barza has amassed numerous awards and accolades, and takes parts in international events to promote the cuisine of his native Lebanon. Today, he is the consultant of the GET GROUP in Qatar, the Hilton hotels in Jordan, and the Waldorf Astoria in Ras Al Khaimah, where his fine Middle Eastern cuisine is served at the elegant Marjan restaurant.