Hugo Danaguezian, 29 years old, was born in Lyon and grew up in the Beaujolais region of France. With a father of Armenian origin, born in Lebanon and a French mother with Italian roots, Hugo’s foray into the world of cuisine came naturally to him.
One of the defining moments of his culinary journey occurred during a trip to Lebanon when Hugo was just 10 years old. He recalls this experience as one of the first “gastronomic revelations” of his life. He reflects on how the “abundance of different dishes, the blending of hot and cold, and the aesthetics of the mezze table were all discoveries from that summer of 2004” that continue to influence his cooking today.
At the age of 18, due to his profound interest in new technologies, Hugo embarked on a conventional academic path. He began by taking ECS preparatory classes (for economics and business) at his high school and later enrolled in EDHEC Business School, but his underlying love for cooking never waned. “I began my career in that industry, all the while still nurturing my passion for cooking and promising myself that I would open my restaurant before turning 30” he explains.
In the spring of 2022, at 28 years old, he embarked on realizing this dream of launching a “contemporary Lebanese restaurant,” that offers “a fresh interpretation” of the traditional Lebanese menu. His vision involves using classic “recipes, techniques, and typical Lebanese ingredients blended with other influences, using only seasonal fruits and vegetables.”
While working to finalize this project in his hometown Paris, Hugo has simultaneously launched his @pari-beyrouth accounts on both TikTok and Instagram. With his 147,000 dedicated followers, he aims to provide the behind-the-scenes challenges and triumphs of this adventure and ultimately share what he is “most passionate about in the world: cooking.” He achieves this by regularly posting videos 2 to 3 times a week “placing a great deal of emphasis on presentation and the overall aesthetics” of his content. As Hugo continues his quest to find the perfect location for his restaurant in the heart of the culinary capital, he never fails to leave our mouths watering in the process!
Pari_beyrouth Hugo’s labneh and chickpeas with harissa
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 5 minutes
Total time: 25 minutes*
Serves: 4 people
Difficulty level: very easy
*If you make labneh at home, you need an additional 12 hours.
300g labneh (or 350g sheep yogurt)
20g canned chickpeas, drained
2 red onions
4 garlic cloves
1 tbsp of lemon juice
1 tbsp of ground cumin
1 tbsp of ground coriander seeds
2 tbsp of Berber harissa
Optional: 100g chicken skin (ideally from chicken thighs)
For the garnish
Step 1- Drain the canned chickpeas.
Step 2- Peel the onion and garlic, then thinly slice.
Step 3- Heat a pan with a tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat.
Step 4- When the oil is hot, add the onion, garlic slices, the ground cumin and the ground coriander seeds.
Step 5- Sauté until the onions are colored and tender.
Step 6- Add the drained chickpeas and sauté for an additional 3 minutes.
Step 7- Season with salt and pepper.
Step 8- Add the harissa, then sauté while stirring to incorporate all of the mixture.
Step 9- Turn off the heat and add a dash of lemon juice.
For the assembly
Step 1- In the center of a plate, place the labneh and create a small crater with the back of a tablespoon
Step 2- Pour the harissa chickpeas into this crater.
Step 3- Enjoy with Lebanese bread
Optional: If you opted for the carnivorous option with chicken sin, cut them into small pieces and crisp them up in the pan before adding the onions. I recommend using a bit less olive oil since the chicken skin will release fat.
This article was originally published in French in L'Orient-Le Jour.