Food

How Philippe Massoud paved the way for Lebanese fine dining in the U.S.

NYC’s ilili opened 15 years ago, inspired by a family’s culinary and hospitality legacy and the drive for an elevated restaurant experience.

Philippe Massoud grew up Lebanon, spending a lot of time in his family’s hotel learning hospitality and cooking from the best. He was forced to leave his country during the civil war, arriving in the U.S. with a strong desire to pursue his culinary passion.

Philippe Massoud

Philippe Massoud

That desire finally became a reality 15 years ago, when, after many fits and starts, he opened ilili in New York City, introducing Americans to Lebanese fine dining. The restaurant, whose name means “tell me” in colloquial Arabic Lebanese, features a striking modern design and a progressive menu that showcases many of Massoud’s family recipes. Two years ago, a second ilili opened in Washington, D.C.

Listen as Massoud shares his arduous journey from refugee to restaurateur, how discovering the “recipe card” in a food and beverage class at Cornell University changed his life, and how he has plans in the works to expand ilili to more locations.

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