Anissa Helou

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Anissa Helou at the Oxford Symposium on Food and Cookery, 2012

Anissa Helou (born 1 February 1952) is a London-based cookbook author, teacher, and chef specialising in the cuisines of the Mediterranean, Middle East and North Africa.


The daughter of a Syrian father and a Lebanese mother,[1] Anissa left her native Lebanon at the age of 21 to study interior design in London.[2]

Following completion of the Sotheby's Works of Art course,[3] she started working for the auction house, becoming their representative for the Middle East. At the age of 24 she opened an antiques shop in Paris, and shortly after became a freelance art consultant based in London.[4] Between 1978 and 1986, she lived in Kuwait acting as an advisor to members of the ruling family, returning to London in 1986.[5]

Encouraged by a friend in the publishing world, and inspired by the Lebanese civil war, Anissa wrote her first cookbook, Lebanese Cuisine. In 1994, Lebanese Cuisine was published. It was short-listed for the prestigious Andre Simon Book Awards.[6]

In 1999, Anissa changed her life by selling a number of collections at Christie's.[7] She also sold her Victorian house and bought a two-storey warehouse loft in Shoreditch, which she converted into a modern minimalist living and working space. It is here that she teaches in her state-of-the-art kitchen.[8]

In 2013 Anissa was listed by Arabian Business as one of the 500 most powerful Arabs in the world,[9] and one of the 100 most powerful Arab women.[10]

Her latest book, "Levant" was published in 2013 and was selected as one of Observer Food Monthly's 20 food books of the year,[11] Gourmet Travellers best books of 2013,[12] 14 Best Cookbooks Of 2013 by BuzzFeed [13] and one of Marie-Claire Digby’s top ten food books of the year [14]


Aylin Tan (left) and Anissa Helou (right) speaking and tasting at the Oxford Symposium, 2008


  1. ^ Tom Parker Bowles, Live - The Mail on Sunday Magazine, April 7, 2013
  2. ^ Startup -, May 2013
  3. ^ Reuters - INTERVIEW - Anissa Helou: accidental queen of Lebanese cuisine By Alistair Lyon, Special Correspondent, 2010
  4. ^ Startup -, May 2013
  5. ^ Al-Hayat daily newspaper, 23 December 2012
  6. ^ The Taste of Future -
  7. ^ Evening Standard Homes & Property, 12 May 1999
  8. ^ The Taste of Future -
  9. ^ Arabian Business Power 500, 2013.
  10. ^, 2013
  11. ^ Allan Jenkins and Gareth Grundy, The Observer, 2013
  12. ^ Gourmet Traveller, 2013
  13. ^ Tienlon Ho,, 2013
  14. ^ Marie-Claire Digby, The Irish Times, 2013

External links[edit]