Sunday, October 24, 2010

Federal Hill's Byblos: More Than Good Food

Some say cooking is an art form. There is no doubt that food and art are two of life’s greatest joys. No one knows this better than Sami Tabet. The owner of Byblos Lebanese cuisine at 1033 Light Street, Sami not only runs the restaurant six days a week, he is also an accomplished artist. His oil paintings add a unique flair to the authentic atmosphere of the Lebanese restaurant in the heart of Federal Hill.

Sami paints Arabic words depicting thoughts, stories, and poems in the background of his paintings. This approach reflects the fact, Sami says, that “whenever you do what you do, you are always thinking.” One painting includes names of people he grew up with or once knew incorporated into a scene of seven individuals sitting in a field beneath a tree. The painting that serves as the quintessential piece that delivers this message is titled “No Such A Thing Called Silence.” Sami also dubbed it “Screaming Quiet Place."

Sami discovered his talent for painting at the age of 11 and his passion never ceased. He began taking classes in 1984 in Beirut, Lebanon. His wife, Hala Tabet, is the one behind all of the delicious Lebanese dishes at Byblos, while Sami serves the dishes.

However, meeting his wife and starting a family did not cut short his career as an artist. Soon after coming to the United States in 1988, he began to do full-finishing decorating for restaurants. Now, he decorates his own with his paintings (all of which are for sale). In fact, Sami’s artwork will be on display in a show dedicated to Sami Tabet starting November 1 at The Lutheran Center (700 Light Street). Opening night will ring in with a reception, a chance to meet the artist, walk around, and check out his beautiful and meaningful paintings.

--Chelsea Ryder

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