My name is Anthony Rahayel and this is my story… I was born in Beirut in 1983, a time when Lebanon was going through a period of intense political struggle and turmoil. For much of my youth there was always something happening in the country that affected people’s wellbeing, from violence to political deadlock or war. As we emerged from crisis after crisis we Lebanese proved to the world that we are survivors and no matter what happens we will always be looking forward. We continue to face challenges, but I have faith that the Lebanese will soldier on. As I grew up something inside me kept calling… I wasn’t satisfied with what I was doing and I only realized what really inspired me after I graduated from university and started my day job as a dental surgeon. I realised Lebanon is a survivor and we Lebanese are always coming up with new things, new places, new restaurants, importing new franchises, creating our own and exporting them to other countries… But then I thought, this is all great, but are we experiencing the very best food available to us… I came up with the idea for www. NoGarlicNoOnions.com, a means to express my thoughts, how I feel and what I taste every time I go out for a meal… I became a representative for the average person, people who enjoy going out and want their money’s worth. As a result of the great feedback I receive I feel I represent many Lebanese. I never expected the blog to pick up so fast. For the past three years, NoGarlicNoOnions has been scouring Lebanon and beyond, to discover and share the very finest culinary creations with its audience. However, I still wasn’t satisfied. I realized with time that we as Lebanese, especially my generation, have lost touch with ourselves – our diverse culture and what makes this country special. I wanted to get acquainted with my own country, its variety of people and culture. Food was the tool. I started travelling around different parts of the country from Tripoli, to Sidon, Tyre, Beirut and beyond. With a video camera in hand I started roaming around the country’s streets, meeting amazing people making amazing food. I discovered various ways of preparing the same food in different regions, starting with the simplest thing as the thyme mankoushe… I wrote reviews about my discoveries and my videos became a huge success as people travelled around the country with me discovering cities, towns, and delicious bites. NoGarlicNoOnions allows me to bring unite people in a divided country. Lebanon isn’t an easy place to live in, but creating something like NoGarlicNoOnions has brought all sorts of issues to my mind. Prices are high, so people really want value for money, businesses come and go, so we have to support the good ones and, put quite simply, people want to be able to relax and have fun whenever they get the chance. It’s important to help people explore their own country, to tell them the very best it has to offer, in a country as stressful as Lebanon helping people get out and about, and forget their troubles for a while, that’s a service. I am now part of a huge community, one that continues growing where we live, who we are. We’re from all walks of life, from all religious and political backgrounds, and that’s really important in Lebanon. We don’t discriminate; we’ll travel anywhere, anytime. I’m amazed by the conversations I have with the NGNO community, we discuss cuisine, talk about new places and learn from one another. I love knowing that I’ve touched people, that they understand what we’re trying to do and that they enjoy hearing our stories. Most of all, I love that people love food.