We want to be a local food producer of Middle Eastern food and bridge the cultural pallet between east and west.
When he was 18, Moudi Sbeity left Lebanon to attend Utah State University. He soon found himself feeling what every dorm-inhabiting college freshman feels at one time or another: hungry and homesick. Making food that reminded him of home seemed like the best remedy for both ailments, so Moudi called his mom and she walked him through the process of cooking traditional Lebanon dishes. One of those dishes was hummus. “It’s a cultural heritage for me,” Sbeity says. The hummus he learned to make was smooth, light, and creamy.
A few years later, Sbeity started making hummus for his friends, then began selling hummus to colleagues, until finally Sbeity and his then partner, now husband Derek Kitchen applied to the Salt Lake City Farmers Market. The two used what little money they had to package their hummus in old cream cheese containers and attack a “hummus” sticker to each. Despite the humble presentation the hummus became increasingly popular and it wasn’t long before Sbeity and Kitchen were approached by distributors looking to sell the spread. Creating Laziz hummus, as well as muhammara, a sweet red pepper dip, and toum, a garlic spread, became Sbeity and Kitchen’s full-time job.
A humble Sbeity is hesitant to call his hummus the best, but says, “Other people are the judge of whether or not your product is good based on if they buy it.” If Laziz’s exponential rise in popularity is any indication, the product is very good.
What makes the Laziz hummus different is the traditional process Sbeity and his team use to make it. It’s the traditional process used in the Middle East. They soak dry garbanzo beans overnight, then remove most of the skin before blending. “it’s a creamy, pure, hummus,” Sbeity says. “It’s just simple hummus,” he adds, and explains that they don’t add any flavors to the spread.
The purity of the hummus made only with natural ingredients makes the product impossible to sell online. The hummus, muhammara, and toum, are, however, available at many stores and farmers markets around Utah. Laziz muhammara and toum are the only muhammara and toum available on local grocery store shelves at this time.
Sbeity and Kitchen will be opening a deli this summer located at the corner of 900 S and 200 W and hope to continue to expand their product line soon. “We want to be a local food producer of Middle Eastern food and bridge the cultural pallet between east and west,” Sbeity says. That’s a bridge you can cross at home with the spreads, or in their deli within a few short months.