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History & Heritage


The Bearded Bakers, Palestine’s culture in the spotlight

This group of hirsute Australian bakers of Palestinian origin, which is increasingly successful on social networks, stands out both for the products it offers and for its desire to break stereotypes towards the Arab world.

Knafeh Bakery’s adventure began 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 true “bakery rockstars” look back on their success, which has led them to have almost 100,000 subscribers on Instagram.

A dessert that has become a way of life

Their bakery, located in an old container that looks like a food truck, has the particularity of serving ONLY Knafeh, a dessert made of slices of melted cheese baked in the oven with a filling of kataifi paste or semolina, then drizzled with flavored syrup, which originated in the Palestinian city of Nablus. Moreover, the brothers claim to prepare the Knafeh “in their own way” by following the family recipe, which is more gourmet than the original one (Instead of a slice of string cheese, it is a small jar made of thick cheese paper, similar to custard, topped with a generous mixture of breadcrumbs. The Knafeh is then cooked on-site in the oven of the container, from where it comes out to be covered with crushed pistachios and syrup). A detail that has its importance, since the Bearded Bakers are now attacking the Lebanese market, a stronghold of Knafeh, in which it will be essential for them to stand out. 


A working 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 starting their own business. Today, those commonly known as the “Bearded Bakers”, owe their success not only to the quality of their products but also to their true showmanship. The entertainment aspect is very important for customers, who often end up staying long after they have finished their Knafeh. 

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According to Ameer, this aspect is an integral part of the bakery’s commercial strategy, based on customer experience. This, as well as the social media strategy, is of prime importance. In fact, bearded bakers now work with leading brands such as Lamborghini or Mercedes, and plan to collaborate with UNICEF in Lebanon. It is no longer just about desserts, but about image and the El-Issa brothers have understood this well. 


Palestinian culture in the spotlight

They work to maintain this image as best they can, and this requires above all careful recruitment. The brothers consider in fact that anyone can acquire the necessary skills to work in the bakery, but that charisma and character are innate, and essential to join their teams. “It’s not just food, it’s also music, welcoming, loving people, it’s a whole. When you come to Knafeh Bakery, it is as if you are welcomed in our home, that is what our culture represents, and that is the message we want to convey. 

Published on 10 September 2019