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 • Interviews  • A Tale Of Two Women || The Culinary Journey of Em Sherif’s Mother-Daughter Duo
Em Sherif's Mother-Daughter

A Tale Of Two Women || The Culinary Journey of Em Sherif’s Mother-Daughter Duo

A Tale Of Two Women || The Culinary Journey of Em Sherif’s Mother-Daughter Duo

Unfolding as a treasure of culinary delights, Em Sherif Cafe beckons you to embark on a sensory voyage. An opportunity to rediscover age-old culinary traditions infused with a contemporary touch. Amidst the elegance and smiles, we find ourselves in the presence of a culinary legacy—the alluring Mireille Hayek (Em Sherif) and her daughter, Yasmina. Together, they’ve redefined the rules of the gastronomic realm, crafting not only a dining experience but also an empowering narrative. 

Mireille Hayek, or “Em Sherif” as she is fondly known, has become synonymous with the art of elevating traditional Arabic recipes into unforgettable culinary masterpieces. Her journey in the world of hospitality has transformed her into a star chef and host, attracting gastronomes from across the MENA Region and beyond.

Mireille’s unwavering commitment to staying ahead of culinary trends drives her to continuously refine her recipes, ensuring each dish is a masterpiece. Behind this iconic brand stands a woman of unparalleled passion for the culinary arts.

“I feel at home when I’m cooking, I feel good. I believe everyone deserves to taste good food,” Mireille’s culinary philosophy.

But Em Sherif Cafe is more than just a culinary experience; it’s a testament to women’s empowerment and a heartwarming example of a mother-daughter partnership. Mireille and her daughter, Yasmina, have not only reshaped the culinary landscape but also set a powerful example of dedication, leadership, and innovation in an industry historically dominated by men. In a candid conversation, they share insights into their culinary journey, family dynamics, and the unique approach that defines Em Sherif’s success.

Your dedication to refining traditional Arabic recipes showcases your commitment to culinary excellence. How do you see your culinary journey inspiring other women to embrace their passions and excel in fields that have been historically male-dominated?

Perseverance and dedication serve as my motivations and my team’s aspirations. I firmly believe that succeeding in a male-dominated industry, particularly in Arab countries, represents a significant milestone for Arab women. There is a great deal of respect and admiration for women in our company, and we have always functioned as a close-knit family, which holds special significance for us, especially since it is a family business. I wholeheartedly encourage every woman not to give up on her dreams and to believe in herself, as success commands respect for both men and women.

Your hands-on approach to every aspect of your restaurant, from cooking to customer service, sets a powerful example. Has your leadership style motivated other women to take charge and lead with passion and attention to detail?


Yasmina: My mother is undoubtedly a role model for me. She has created a powerful and detail-oriented structure that has allowed us to establish a highly consistent system across the globe. Consistency is the key; our guests have exceptionally high expectations and have become our ambassadors worldwide, contributing significantly to Em Sherif’s growth. We are truly fortunate to be surrounded by such a caring and beautiful community that values our product. My responsibility is to preserve what my mother founded and elevate it to the next level with my expertise. I genuinely believe we have created a beautiful mother-daughter dynamic.

Working with family in the restaurant business must create a unique dynamic. Could you share a specific instance where this partnership has led to innovation or success, highlighting the strengths that emerge from your mother-daughter teamwork?

Mireille: Family has always been at the heart of Em Sherif, starting with my brother and extending to my son and daughter, with Yasmina now serving as the Corporate Chef. Their dedication and involvement in the business have enabled us to expand to multiple countries without compromising our essence. We never want our family business to feel commercialized; for us, it’s always been family first, business second.

Yasmina: Working alongside my mother has proven to be both highly rewarding and challenging. When I initially joined the business after completing my culinary training and gaining experience at different Michelin-starred establishments, I had difficulty accepting criticism because I came with a different vision. However, I eventually realized that my mother possessed a deep understanding of the market and had developed a highly successful product. Therefore, I needed to align with her approach, which was organic and serendipitous, rather than attempting to change it. Over time, I integrated my more academic and intensive training into our culinary practices, introducing modern and sophisticated techniques. This blend has allowed Em Sherif to distinguish itself from others in the industry.

Em Sherif is only a culinary destination but an entire experience. How do you think this approach fosters a deeper connection with food and the culture it represents?

The goal is to promote Lebanese culture by addressing a gap in the market for traditional, yet refined Lebanese food. We do this in a space where various cultural elements converge – including ambiance, cuisine, music, decor, service, hospitality, and a diverse clientele, mirroring the rich tapestry of Lebanon’s people. As a skilled home cook, driven by my family and a strong desire to champion Lebanese culture, our goal is for anyone stepping into Em Sherif to experience touch, sight, taste, and sensation that encapsulates all the unique facets of our landscape.

Em Sherif is a tale of ardor, dedication, and a commitment to sharing the beauty of Lebanese cuisine with the world. At its core, it’s a mother and daughter, standing shoulder to shoulder, illuminating the path for generations to come.