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Chef Alan Geam’s story reads like a novel. Born in Liberia to Lebanese parents, at the age of nineteen he embarked on an adventure that led him to Paris where, with nothing to his name, he slept rough under the Eiffel Tower.
Fast forwad 20 years and Geaam is a Michelin star chef and the owner of four restaurants; AG Les Halles, AG St-Germain, Auberge Nicolas Flamel and his eponymous Restaurant Alan Geaam, his first, just a few steps from the Champs Elysées.
The above video and his remarkable story appeared on Singapore-based English language news network CAN, but it could easily have been taken from the pages of a Hollywood or French film script.
Geaam had a will to work and laboured on building sites during the day and as a pizza delivery boy and pot washer at night. He worked and more importantly, he learned. When he had the chance to step in for the pizza chef, he knew he had found his place in the world. For Geaam, his “bonheur (happiness) and… dream in France” doing what he loved best – “cooking for others”.
Geaam is completely self-taught and his story is not just one of personal career fulfilment, but a story of Paris, of a young Lebanese boy with a dream and a city that gave him a chance. The restaurant industry is almost unique in that it doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from you can get a start, and if you’re willing to work and work hard, the sky’s the limit for you.
Food transcends national and cultural barriers, our restaurants have always been the best examples of the melting pot and how movement of people and sharing of ideas can only enhance a society. More of this kind of story please.