Written by Sayada Nabi
His goal was to change the way people thought about the Middle East through food, dining and hospitality. Paramount Fine Foods president and CEO, Mohamad Fakih, not only created a different way to enjoy Lebanese food, but his journey also brought him to being recognized as the 2016 Business Leader of the Year by the Toronto Region Board of Trade.
“When they see the clean, high standards and generosity of the restaurant it gives them the taste of the Middle East and what we do in our towns. They look at the culture, the food, the entrepreneurs and they experience it differently,” says Fakih.
Not only is he successful in business, he’s an active member of the community. Fakih has supported organizations such as Operation Smile, Make-A-Wish Foundation and Cops for Cancer. His recent donation of $50,000 to the University of Toronto Scarborough reflects a desire to make an investment in the future.
As the chain of Paramount restaurants and butcher shops continue to grow across Canada, Fakih is working through a global expansion in England, Lebanon, Pakistan and the United States.
“We are a small Canadian company, and we want to show that an immigrant Canadian company that came out of Mississauga could compete anywhere in the world, we are globally ambitious,” he says.
“Part of the company’s mission is working with the next generation, and the next generation is the future of this country,” Fakih adds. “I want to make their facility better and provide conditions where they can be grown into the leaders of tomorrow.”
The road to success wasn’t always simple. With a European gemology degree, Fakih initially went back to Lebanon and worked as a jeweler until the war pushed him out. After immigrating to Canada in 1999, he worked for free in the day as a jeweler to build experience and at night in a coffee shop.
“I always looked for bigger things to do, I always wanted to do bigger things and change people’s lives,” Fakih says.
When a bakery shop in the industrial area of Mississauga was near bankruptcy, Fakih’s ambition met with opportunity, and that was the beginning of Paramount Fine Foods.
“You do not only want to grow your business, you want to grow that community that supported you. It’s not just money, you don’t have to be reach to give back to the community you can give back through your expertise, time, support and ideas” he says.