Jad Nehmetallah is never short of jokes on Gogglebox.
But the star of the popular reality Foxtel series – which has been renewed for 2021 – has taken a more serious stance with his latest project.
Nehmetallah, who shares the couch with his best mates Matty and Sarah Marie Fahd, is launching an electronic cookbook Bake For Beirut to raise desperate funds for Lebanon in the wake of the Beirut blast on August 4.
In a shocking twist of fate, Nehmetallah was supposed to be in Lebanon, where he is from, when the deadly explosion happened in the capital city. At least 203 people died and 6500 were injured, including Nehmetallah’s aunty.
Up to 300,000 residents were left homeless.
“Seeing all the videos online of the carnage, deceased, injured and living on the streets has made me feel really lost and helpless. As I’m sure many of you feel also. As I’m sure the people of Lebanon feel one hundred times more,” he wrote on his Instagram at the time.
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In the months since, Nehmetallah has teamed up with MasterChef: Back to Win alum Rose Adam and roped in some of Australia’s best chefs to put together a cookbook with 100 per cent of profits going to LebaneseFood Bank and Steps of Hope charity.
MasterChef fan favourite Poh Ling Yeow created the artwork for the cover of the book, judge Melissa Leong has penned the introduction and there are recipes from the likes of Matt Preston and Merivale chef Tal Buchnik, as well as authentic family recipes from Nehmetallah and Adam.
“Rose and I became friends on Instagram, we have never met but I made a funny comment on Gogglebox watching Masterchef and started following her and she followed me and we became Instagram buddies,” Nehmetallah said.
“Beirut hit us very hard and we wanted to do something and we knew we couldn’t do an event and then we thought about creating a product or a cooking class and then we thought of the idea of an e-cookbook. That way it is accessible to everyone and people are getting something back in return from the donation.”
As for one of his favourite recipes from the book, Nehmetallah can’t look past his mother’s Maamoul.
“During COVID I laughed when mum made her famous Maamoul – like shortbread with nuts – and it was like a production line with dad making 150 of them for the family for Easter,” he said.
“I secretly filmed her and posted it and said ‘Who wants some?’ Needless to say we got orders and had to make 30 dozen in over three days and she screamed at me, ‘What have you done?’
“I asked her if she would share the recipe and she said, ‘Absolutely not’… However when this idea came up I asked he again and she did not hesitate.
“The problem is she has never shared it and written it down, so it took a while to put pen to paper but we have it and are proud for it to be part of the book. Guitta’s famous Mamooul.”
Nehmetallah is also set to return to Gogglebox, which airs on Wednesdays at 7.30pm on LifeStyle, when the new season drops in 2021, with the current cast remaining unchanged.
Bake for Beirut launches on October 20