The Bearded Bakers, Palestinian culture in the spotlight
Knafeh Bakery the adventure has started in Melbourne at the end of 2014, and within 5 years, brothers Ameer and Joey El-Issa can already measure the progress made. After visits to New York and Lebanon, these real “bakery rockstars” look back on their success which led them to have nearly 100,000 followers on Instagram.
A dessert that has become a way of life
Their bakery, located at an old container that looks like a food truck, has the particularity of serving ONLY Knafeh, a dessert made with slices of melted cheese baked with a filling of kataifi paste or semolina, then drizzled with flavored syrup, originally in the Palestinian city of Nablus. Moreover, the brothers claim to prepare the Knafeh “in their own way” by following the family recipe, more delicious than the original (Instead of a slice of string, it’s a small pot of thick cheese paper, similar to custard, topped with a generous mixture of breadcrumbs. The Knafeh is then baked on the spot in the oven of the container, from where it comes out to be covered with crushed pistachios and syrup). A detail that is important, since the Bearded Bakers are now attacking the Lebanese market, Knafeh’s stronghold, in which it will be essential for them to stand out.
A functional and well-oiled machine
It was in response to the success of this dessert in the family restaurant that the two brothers had the idea of creating their own business. Today, those commonly known as “bearded bakers” owe their success not only to the quality of their products. but also to their true sense of the spectacle. The entertainment aspect is very important to customers, who often end up staying a long time after completing their Knafeh.
According to Ameer, this aspect is an integral part of the bakery’s business strategy, based on the customer experience. This, together with the social media strategy, is of prime importance. Indeed, bearded bakers now work with big brands like Lamborghini or Mercedes, and plan to collaborate with UNICEF in Lebanon. It is no longer just a question of desserts, but of image and the El-Issa brothers have understood this well.
Palestinian culture in the spotlight
They strive to maintain this image as well as possible, which first and foremost requires careful recruitment. The brothers consider that anyone can acquire the skills necessary to work in a bakery, but that charisma and character are innate and essential to join their teams. “It’s not just food, it’s also music, welcoming people, loving people, it’s a whole. When you come to Knafeh bakery, It’s as if you were welcomed into our home, that’s what our culture represents, and that’s the message we want to get across.