Al Aseel – ‘The Original’ Lebanese cuisine
“Al Aseel means The Original … truly authentic recipes”
In 2002, the first Al Aseel restaurant opened its doors in Greenacre. With a passion for authentic Lebanese cuisine, catering professional Faysal El-Abd and his founding partner, Charles Obeid, wanted to showcase the delicious food of their culture. Their first restaurant quickly became one of Sydney’s most celebrated Lebanese restaurants. It was featured in the television show Gourmet Food Safari, and given accolades in the Sydney Morning Herald.
Five restaurants and hundreds of thousands of customers later, the business has expanded nationally and continues to grow.
Operations Manager Ahmad Harb tells us …
“Our Greenacre restaurant, on average, serves around 2,500 customers every week!”
Whilst the restaurants are a core part of the business, Al Aseel also offers a comprehensive range of food services, from local and interstate catering to partnering with major travel and entertainment organisations to provide a high-quality menu. Diversification has given the company the opportunity to develop new and exciting projects.
“We want to be known as the leaders in Lebanese cuisine, but we also want to have a presence anywhere that offers quality clean food … no preservatives, no enhancers, no colourings … this is what we do!”
Based on tradition
Faysal created the original menu at Al Aseel, replicating many of his mother’s traditional recipes. And that tradition is maintained today. The restaurants have a modern feel, but the food is a true reflection of the meals eaten in Lebanon. The experience is perfect for sharing … enjoying a banquet of dips, salads, finger foods and meats.
In a Lebanese household, hospitality is always guaranteed. Whether a planned meal between friends and family, or a drop-in of unexpected visitors, it is customary for food to be shared. This cultural norm is at the heart of Al Aseel’s approach to dining.
Being in Australia enables the team to utilise wonderful fresh ingredients, but for more exotic items that are not produced here, Al Aseel imports directly.
Restaurants and much more …
Ahmad tells us …
“Our operation is always busy … people recognise our name for restaurants because that’s what we are known for … but in the background we are very busy providing food to big brands … partnering with major organisations.
We have a large catering service and a professional food services division where we supply both Lebanese cuisine and other quality food to airlines, business lounges and hotels.”
This area of the business has been able to connect with retailers as well.
Plus, Al Aseel also has a new range of frozen food. The brand Mazati was launched just three months ago and is available through 120 small retailers across Sydney.
Ahmad is impressed with the success they have already achieved …
“We turn over 300 bags of food per week which is great for such a new product in the market!
People know the brand – Al Aseel – so when they see the name on the bag, they know the quality … they are encouraged and confident to buy the product.”
Al Aseel’s certifications
As a food supplier, there are different certifications that Al Aseel must have, but they have also extended their certification to ensure they exceed industry requirements.
Their certifications include:
- Halal Certificate in the preparation facility and onsite in the restaurants.
- HACCP which is the standard for food manufacturing.
- Spotless Certificate which allows them to partner with airport food services – lounges, cafés and canteens.
- SQF Certificate is an international standard that all their facilities work in accordance with. This certificate enables them to work with larger organisations like ALDI or Metcash and inflight airlines such as Qantas.
- Gold Licence Caterer qualifies them to cater for international embassies and the Australian Government in Parliament House.
Community and education
Al Aseel has always been dedicated to their local community. They were drawn to the Canterbury Bankstown Chamber of Commerce by its truly inclusive nature, and there is a camaraderie within the network that aligns strongly with Al Aseel’s beliefs.
“We have great relationships within the Lebanese community … now we want to be connected with everyone. We are all part of this passionate business community.”
For years, Al Aseel has been involved with many of their local schools. Public or private, all denominations … they are committed to supporting education in the area. They sponsor fundraisers with food or whatever other services the school requires. Plus, they regularly offer work placement opportunities for students in Year 10 or Year 12.
Ahmad explains …
“As part of our values we love to support academic excellence … we love to see people being educated. Doesn’t matter if you are wealthy or not, we know it’s important to pursue education … especially in our region … we want to encourage people to stay in school and complete their studies.”
Over the recent holiday season, the team at Al Aseel also donated a fully catered Christmas feast to The Children’s Hospital at Westmead. The response they received was overwhelming, with one mother explaining that her son had not eaten in seven days. These emotional moments give extra special value to the food donation.
Ahmad says …
“We don’t do these things to advertise our business … we do them because we want to help, and we know we are in a position to give back.”
A new Al Aseel restaurant will be opening in Castle Hill later this year … to find out more visit their website www.alaseelgroup.com.au
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