Chef, food blogger, author, and at one point, holder of the title of Miss Lebanon, Lebanese-American Bethany Kehdy, 32, has had a lot on her plate throughout the years, and filled just as many.

Born in Houston, Texas to a Lebanese father and an American mother, Kehdy mainly grew up in Lebanon, and it was here that she got her taste for the culinary arts. Her fascination with food would lead her to start her popular blog Dirty Kitchen Secrets, organizing the Taste Lebanon food tours, and publishing her cookbook of Middle Eastern classics and original creations, The Jewelled Kitchen. had a chat with the enterprising cook this Tuesday at Tawlet, where a selection of her delicious dishes were on the menu (including a mighty fine kishik soup).

(Photo via midEATS) When did you first start cooking?

Kehdy: I’ve been cooking probably since I was 13 or 14. I started cooking for the family, because my parents were divorced, so I was cooking for my other 3 siblings and myself. When I moved to Miami in 2002, I started cooking Middle Eastern food. I wanted to learn how to make kebbeh, kousa and all that. How did you come to launch your blog, Dirty Kitchen Secrets?

Kehdy: In 2008, I’d just moved to London, it was freezing, and I did not want to leave the house. I just kinda stuck myself to the stove and started going through this document that I had saved from the Miami days called “Dirty Kitchen”. I had come across some blogs and thought "wow ok, I can actually publish online, so why I am I not doing that?" Then I set up a blog overnight, started blogging, and it just turned into an obsession. How did the Taste Lebanon tours come about?

Kehdy: I was constantly trying to propel people [friends] to come visit Lebanon, and I just thought if I put together this tour that’s based around food, I could lure them in… and lots of people took interest in it. It’s targeted at Brits and anybody who wants to come and explore the country. We do get a lot of expats who wanna take part. We get locals, who do the Beirut Bites tour. We get people who come with us all the way to the South, because they've never done it on their own. How was the process of putting together your cookbook The Jewelled Kitchen?

Kehdy: I had to go over classical dishes and it was very important for me not to disrespect the traditions of these dishes that have been cooked for thousands of years. It was very important for me to make sure I was happy with it, that it was something I would be wholeheartedly happy cooking at home, without taking away from the importance of this tradition, understanding why they did it, understanding the history behind the dish and being able to transfer that knowledge. What are your personal favorite Lebanese dishes?

Kehdy: Mjadra with cabbage salad, I love kousa, kishik, I am a massive kishik eater, mtab’a, I can make it vegetarian, I can add meat. The homey dishes: kebbe, tabbouleh, hummus, etc. What are your proudest personal creations?

Kehdy: I love the kishik soup the way I make it, because I’ve made it with some meat (awarma), but I also added spinach and kale, and I quite like that. The kebab karaz I love. There’s the tuna tartar, it’s based on something that you might find in North Africa but also something that you may find here with the kebbeh, but you can’t always find raw meat as easily as you can find sushi-grade fish. What’s the most unlikely combination you’ve ever tried?

Kehdy: My duck shawarma with fig jam is quite popular and that’s one that you wouldn’t normally think to pair at all, and that works really, really well. If you could have anyone cook a meal for you, who would it be?

Kehdy: Greg Maalouf. He’s a Michelin Star chef of Lebanese descent, born and raised in Australia. He is pretty much considered the father of modern Middle Eastern cuisine. He’s somebody that really inspired me when I first started dabbling with Middle Eastern cooking, more towards the point of when I started the blog. If you could prepare a meal for anyone, who would it be?

Kehdy: I’m at my happiest when I’m cooking for family and friends. That’s how I started and I think that’s what keeps it going.

To learn more about Bethany Kehdy, stop by her website, and keep up with her latest adventures in flavor on her blog, Dirty Kitchen Secrets.

Articles & Media

Bethany Kehdy Gives Readers a... Interview on Oct 30, 2014
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Past Events

Bethany Kehdy at Tawlet Gathering (Dinner)


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