BASSAM GHRAOUI DIED ON MAY 1ST
BEFORE Damascus was associated with the tyranny of the Assads, father and son, it was known for roses and for the tiny perfumed apples that grew in Zabadani, to be sold in season in baskets made of paper. Long before Aleppo became a bombed-out ruin, it was famous for pistachios. And Ghouta, now a place of horror and chlorine gas, meant orchards of peaches, apricots, pears and almonds that supplied Damascus with sweetness.
GHRAOUI is the oldest chocolate manufacturer in Damascus, creating award-winning chocolate, fondant and candied fruit. The company is proud of its handmade products.
Thanks to a family who moved here from Syria, Hungary could be on the world’s luxury chocolate map. It is best said that Ghraoui is a Hungarian luxury brand, while Damascus and Budapest meet on Andrássy Avenue.
‘Chocolate has no borders,’ said Mr. Bassam Ghraoui, a Syrian-Hungarian businessman, who came to Hungary to build a luxury chocolate factory in his new home that employs more than 500 people.
BUDAPEST BUSINESS JOURNAL
From an exquisitely designed store diagonally opposite to the Opera House, an international Syrian chocolate company is seeking to resurrect itself and reconquer the world, one bite of luxury chocolate at a time.
Even Willy Wonka would envy the Ghraoui luxury chocolate boutique in Budapest! We visited the new Ghraoui luxury boutique on 31st Andrássy Avenue and we were awed not only by the chocolate, but by the boutique itself. The Hungarian-Syrian citizen Bassam Ghraoui is relaunching his legendary chocolate brand, which even gained the title of Purveyor to Her Majesty the Queen of England once and which won a lot of awards.
The Ghraoui luxury chocolate brand spread from Europe to the Middle East and China with its premium products. After the plans for the HUF 7.6 billion chocolate factory in Hatvan have been completed, the construction will begin in October and a year after that the first phase of production will start.
NEW YORK TIMES
‘Lucky hosts will be getting fawakeh mujaffafa from Ghraoui, a confectioner that has its roots in Ottoman times. Fawakeh mujaffafa is Arabic for dried fruits, which is the most elegant delicacy of Damascus.’
“Ghraoui and the Chocolate Factory” November/December 2008 A friend and colleague by the name of Alia Yunis wrote this story about the best chocolate factory in Damascus, which also happens to be one of the best in the whole world. It was extremely memorable for many reasons. Back to my stomach slightly, it’s the best chocolate I’ve ever eaten. I became friendly with the owner, Bassam Ghraoui, and for several years afterward, at Christmas, to my vast surprise, I’d get a box of chocolates. What made it more poignant, I guess that is the word, was what has happened to Syria and all the good people I met since then. I think you feel a disaster like that a lot more strongly if you know the place, and you know the people, and you know how nice they are. I phoned them about a year ago. The main factory closed down because it’s part of a war zone, but they were still producing some chocolate in sort of a protected area of the Damascus. Whether they’re still there or not, I don’t know, but if they ever see or hear this, God bless them.