Sharing the authentic flavours and colourful heritage of Lebanese cuisine with New Zealanders is something Kohkoz Real Lebanese Cuisine founder, Natalie Fakhoury, has always been passionate about.
The products are made in small batches using traditional family recipes and quality, natural ingredients, with no added colours or preservatives. The range includes Kohkoz Traditional Hummus, For the love of Garlic, Smoky Baba Ghanoush, Golden Falafel and Lebanese Pita Bread.
Initially selling at two popular Auckland markets, selected products are now available for purchase at all Farro Fresh Food Auckland stores and Stoneybridge Market. You can still find Natalie and her family at the Howick Village Market every Saturday and the Clevedon Farmers Market every Sunday.
From a very young age, Natalie has had a passion for food. Brought up in Auckland in a typical Lebanese family, her childhood home was a place of regular gatherings – filled with music, laughter, wining and dining. The door was always open, and parents Tom and Gladys welcomed visitors with unmistakable Lebanese hospitality. In fact, there was rarely a night where they cooked only enough food for the family, as guests were always expected.
Natalie grew up with this hospitality in her blood. From watching her parents create traditional Lebanese dishes to learning how to barbecue the perfect steak with her dad, she was raised with a love of sharing good food that’s simply become part of who she is.
After leaving college, Natalie studied Business at Auckland University, but food was where her heart always lay. Her dream was to share the flavours and colourful heritage of Lebanese cuisine with New Zealanders, so in 2015 at age 26 she took the plunge and launched Kohkoz Real Lebanese Cuisine into the Clevedon and Howick Farmers Markets. And she hasn’t looked back.
Kohkoz quickly became a weekly stalwart at the markets and a firm favourite with customers and kiwi foodies alike, thanks to Natalie’s vision of delivering authentic Lebanese food the way it’s meant to be. She’s passionate about these artisan food markets, and you’ll still find her there each weekend selling Kohkoz range of dips and spreads – at Howick Markets on a Saturday and Clevedon on a Sunday.
Family plays a huge part in Natalie’s life, so it’s no surprise that Kohkoz is a real family affair. Tom, Gladys and Natalie’s brother Elias are her biggest supporters, and the official Kohkoz ‘test kitchen’ is based in her family home in Alfriston. The recipes Natalie uses have been handed down through the family, and even the name Kohkoz has a family connection – inspired by Gladys’ nickname, Coco.
Outside of work, Natalie loves hosting dinner parties, trying new restaurants with friends, listening to music and travelling. Her journeys through Australia, New Caledonia and Malaysia have all inspired her in the kitchen, but she’s been particularly influenced by her many visits to Lebanon, where she helped her grandparents bake savoury pastries and manakesh in their traditional Lebanese bakery.
For someone so young, Natalie’s passion, enthusiasm and drive are impressive. She’s grown Kohkoz from a Farmers Market stall to a full range of artisan dips, spreads, falafel and bread, most now available at Farro Fresh specialty food stores across Auckland. And through it all, she’s remained true to her promise of creating traditional Lebanese cuisine the way it’s meant to be. No cutting corners, just good, healthy, full-of-flavour food that’s made to be shared.