Jocelyne Elia – from television to the world of food and tourism.
Lebanese journalist Jocelyne Elia didn’t expect to be pulled into the world of tourism and food journalism when she left in 1994 to go live in London. According to Jocelyne who works for Asharq Al-Awsat in London, she made the change to print journalism after presenting news bulletins and programs in Beirut, London and Qatar.
Jocelyne loved to write and disliked the idea that a news presenter was simply someone who read something that had been prepared for her by someone else. When she became the managing editor of the food and tourism section of London based newspaper Asharq Al-Aswat, she became one of the few Arab journalists who specialized in travel writing, restaurant reviews and writing about the history of food from around the world.
In 2012, Asharq Al Aswat won the award for best Arab Tourism section at The Arab Centre for Tourism Media awards. Today Jocelyn’s work is considered to be one of the most influential sections of the world’s first international Arab newspaper.
Jocelyne faced difficulties at the beginning of her writing career. She believes that when she began, many people in the Arab world were simply not ready for the kind of content that she was publishing. She struggled to convince readers of the importance of the issues that she covered, which she believes can be just as important as political issues. Today, political news is available almost instantaneously online, so many of the readers of the paper are looking for high quality analysis and non-political articles.
Jocelyne’s passion for tourism and food journalism grew when she was still studying journalism at the Lebanese University, Faculty of Information in Beirut.
She says that she wouldn’t be able to choose her favorite, describing them as her two children, which she loves and cares for equally.
Michelin Stars for Lebanese Restaurants
When the last Michelin Guide for restaurants was published, Jocelyne noticed that although Lebanese restaurants were mentioned, the good restaurants were yet to be given the recognition that they deserved. This is despite the quality of their preparation, the excellent presentation and the remarkable popularity of Lebanese cuisine across the world.
For this reason, Jocelyne is personally following the subject and has contacted the Michelin Guide in an attempt to give Lebanese restaurants around the world the recognition they deserve and award them with Michelin Stars.
According to Jocelyne, Michelin Guide editors explain that no Lebanese, Middle Eastern or North African restaurant has been awarded a Michelin Star due to the confusion about how restaurants are classified. She remembers one Michelin Guide employee telling her that Middle Eastern and North African restaurants are like a maze; if a critic who works for the Michelin Guide is not completely sure of what they are doing, they may cause a political problem because there are differences in the classification of Arab and North African restaurants in general, and some protest if a cuisine is labelled Lebanese because it may be Syrian.
However, this does not deter Jocelyne from trying to put Lebanese cuisine on the road to stardom once again.