Celebrity Chef Zarmig Ohannes Haladjian, regarded as an ambassador of Armenian cuisine, was in India recently to offer an extraordinary experience of her heritage – the very best of Armenian and Lebanese food culture. A multifaceted personality, Chef Zarmig is a well known name on television, has authored 23 books, is a culinary artist and the recipient of several prestigious awards
Doha based celebrity Chef Zarmig Ohannes Haladjian was a visiting chef at Novotel New Delhi, Aerocity recently to give a taste of Armenian and Lebanese cuisines to the capital’s cognoscenti. Born in Armenia, Chef Zarmig holds a bachelor’s degree in culinary arts from Al Kafaat, Lebanon, and has completed her Master’s in Business Management from Liverpool University, London. Her impressive career journey started as an executive chef in the US Embassy in Lebanon, followed by Lebanon Intercontinental Hotel as kitchen artist chef. She has authored 23 books and has been an editor and publisher of a magazine. From being a radio announcer to food consultant to host of several television shows and a painter, Chef Zarmig has deftly worn many hats, effortlessly and masterfully.
Belonging to a modest and conservative Armenian family, she always wanted to be a chef and despite objections from her father her firm determination made her achieve her dreams. The accolades and awards followed. Sharing her greatest motivator as a chef, she says, “When you are on a plate — as a metaphor for life — you do not think of the other plate. Stay on this plate, do your best, be good, honest, work hard and when you have done your best, only then do you get onto the other plate and repeat the process for every plate. Not every day is going to be good. On a bad day, remember that everyone throws stones at a tree laden with fruits. You have to stay brave and never give up. It is this metaphor of life that has kept me going.” Chef Zarmig mentions that she loves to cook and paint, whenever she is happy or sad. She considers art as an expression of her existence, of what she is and of her dreams and life.
Lebanese cuisine is becoming popular in India these days. According to Chef Zarmig, the freshness of the ingredients and simplicity of preparations has made Lebanese food the most demanded cuisine in India. “Over the years, there has been an exponential rise in Lebanese restaurants. From a road side corner, to a QSR chain and a five-star hotel, the cuisine can be now found on everybody’s menu,” she says, reminding that Lebanese cuisine is much more than pita bread and a falafel roll; it all about flavours topped with lots of fresh vegetables, cheese, meat and traditional drinks like sherbet, desserts like Baklawa and drinks like Qahwa which makes it different from all other cuisines. “Hence, with local as well as global brands setting their outlets in the market, the country may see more health conscious people being inclined towards Lebanese cuisine,” adds the chef.
Armenian food is not well known India, so how does she foresee this cuisine finding a place in this country? “Armenian culture and history is very well known. However, Indians are still not familiar with the cuisine from this region. It is my dream that people in India familiarise with the culture of Armenia and the flavours of the cuisine, including the ingredients used. The food tastes best when the ingredients are fresh, naturally grown as it helps curate traditional healthy meals,” answers Chef Zarmig.
She remarks that to spread the knowledge and understanding of both Lebanon and Armenian cuisine, chefs like her travel all around the world. They are known internationally for their work in the culinary food space. For instance, along with her being prominent celebrity television personality, culinary artist, author of culinary books, Chef Zarmig is also the founder of Armenian Culinary Association in Armenia and the only Armenian master chef certified internationally.
Her consistent efforts and stature as a global chef of Armenian origin, has established Chef Zarmig as the ambassador of Armenian cuisine. The chef considers it as an honour to work with the hotel staff and family of Pullman and Novotel New Delhi, Aerocity. “It is due to these two hotels and the experience I have had here with the hotel staff, Tristan, general manager and Chef Ajay Anand that I absolutely love India and look forward to similar collaborations in the future,” affirms Chef Zarmig.