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Marwan: from Zanzibar to Thailand to Port Perry

I am always intrigued when I go into a fine restaurant, to find out who is the master behind the art of the delicious cuisine. Such was the case with the relatively new eatery in Port Perry, Marwan’s Global Bistro.

Marwan Dib (pronounced Deeb) is the brainchild behind the concept of a Mediterranean eatery, with a western slant. “I wanted to create dishes that people would enjoy, and which catered to the entire community,” Marwan explained.

Adjusting his trademark cap and sporting his warm grin, I asked how he became a chef, and what prompted him to open his Bistro in Port Perry. He smiled, sat back and explained how his history played a giant role in the life he now leads.

Born in Beirut, Lebanon, Marwan was the son of an army Major and a bank manager, who tried to raise their three children during the height of the civil war. When Marwan’s fifteen year old cousin was murdered in the turmoil, the family took a deep look at its safety and future. Suddenly, one night a bomb hit their house and they narrowly escaped.

Marwan’s father had enough and began to make arrangements to move his family to safer ground. They were granted a Visa to enter the US and stayed in Michigan, where they had family. The intent was temporary, as they had always wanted to live in Canada. Six months later, when Marwan was eight, they relocated to Toronto.

Marwan attended St. Timothy’s Catholic School, and upon graduation went to Sacred Heart in Newmarket, where they were living. During his high school years Marwan worked in the food business, as a grocery clerk at Westin Produce, at Wally B World, Taco Bell and Kenny Rogers Roaster. “I really enjoyed working in the restaurant industry, which determined where my future would lie,” he said, proudly.

Upon graduation, Marwan received a scholarship to attend culinary school in London, Ontario, which he thoroughly enjoyed. He worked part time in a Greek restaurant. “The owner took all the time he needed to make sure I really knew the business,” Marwan explained. “He taught me a great deal about food, service and the importance of patrons.”

When he completed school, he and his brother, along with two other friends, purchased airline tickets to London, England, with a plan to see the world. From there they bought airfare to a small area north of Lamu Island in East Africa’s country of Kenya. Not certain what to do next, they pooled their money and bought a dhow, which they sailed to Zanzibar.

“The winds were so slow, that some days we were only able to travel a kilometre or two,” Marwan said, as he reminisced.

They stayed in Zanzibar for a few months and decided to sell the boat. Unfortunately the next morning, when they went to the beach to prep the boat for selling, it had vanished. All that was left was a piece of the mast, sticking out of the water.