An evening with two stars of French cuisine, sons Pakistan!

Zubair Qureshi

Walid Brothers—Sylvestre Wahid and Jonathan Wahid—two popular names not only in South of France but also the rest of the country for their unique culinary sense and mastery, are currently visiting Pakistan on the invitation of the Serena Hotels with the support of the Embassy of France. Taking advantage of their visit, Ambassador Martine Durance thought it appropriate to host a part at her residence and get the two brothers introduced to Pakistan (and what a good idea it was!). “The idea is that they (Pakistani nation) could learn that talent is recognized internationally, you only need to strive hard and make it known to the world,” she said.
Both the brothers were born in Kohat, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) in 1970s and this was the first time they are in Pakistan and that too for a very short while. Introducing the chef brothers, Ambassador Durance told the elder brother Sylvestre Wahid is one of the most brilliant chefs in France today and identified as one of the rising stars in French gastronomy. Recently, he has won 2 stars by Michelin Guide in his new Parisian restaurant, Sylvestre, she said. Earlier, he earned 2 stars at Oustau de la Baumaniere and has worked in the prestigious restaurants such as Plaza Athenee in Paris, Le Strato in Courchevel or Cheval Blanc in Nimes as well as in New York.
The younger Wahid, Jonathan Wahid is also a master chef in his own right, she said. After working for six years in the Ritz, Jonathan Wahid’s talent was recognized as he received Champion of France for Desserts in 2005. Since then he has opened his own hotel restaurant in south of France together with his wife, ‘The French Chef Fanny Rey’. Besides, their ‘Auberge de la Reine Jeanne’ is awarded with one star at the Michelin guide in 2017, she said.
Later, while talking to media persons Sylvestre Wahid (original name Shahzad Wahid) said he was very young when he came to France. However, his powerful memories were of his grandparents’ vegetable garden. From the moment, he arrived in France, he felt like he had found a second homeland and he is thankful to his father Abdul Wahid for that. It is Abdul Wahid who had abandoned everything, apparently, during his visit to France and joined Legion in the French Army. Seven years, later however, when he was granted French nationality he brought his wife and the children over to the south of France. “I can still remember my sister’s astonishment at seeing my mother hugging my father. Why are you hugging a stranger? She had asked wildly. Because he is my husband, was my mother’s reply.”
Sylvester arrived in Southern France at the age of 9 directly from Kohat. He didn’t know a single word of French. His father enrolled him in a French school and renamed them. Shahzad became Sylvestre and Jawad became Jonathan. Sylvestre’s fvourite ingredients are tomatoes, the dish he loves to eat is spaghetti with tomato sauce, parmesan and basil while the dish he loves to make is pasta Bolognese with lobster and spices. To a question about elections in France and rising wave of extremism in his country, he said he was focusing on his work and it (terrorism) was not only France but the entire world’s problem. Jonathan said he loved to make pastry and he is also recognized for that. About Pakistani dessert, he said gulab jaman was his favorite.

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