If you’ve ever visited Vancouver and bought hummus, chances are you’ve tried one of the many dip varietals from Habibi’s Mediterranean Foods. A potluck staple and high protein, diet friendly dish, hummus is also a Lebanese meal essential. Enter dad, entrepreneur and torch bearer of Habibi’s hummus empire: Abe Chabaan. Chabaan went into business with his mom after her Vancouver restaurant closed a few years back.
But, when Chabaan’s mother’s shop – Mona’s Mediterranean Foods – closed, more doors opened: the chance for Abe to help his mom continue making, fresh, all natural mediterranean foods under the Habibi’s banner. Based on the recipes of Abe’s grandparents and great grandparents, Habibi’s is most known for it’s highly addictive hummus products, however they also make creamy Baba Ghanoush, Tzaziki and Tahini. Now, Habibi’s is available throughout British Columbia, Ontario, the Yukon, Northwest Territory, and the Prairies.
In Aramaic and Arabic, Habibi’s literally means “beloved, friend or darling.” After years of eating Habibi’s fantastic, old-world hummus, I can’t think of a better name for this family-run company. Here’s a glimpse into dad, hummus maker and astronomy buff Abe Chabaan’s life and f*#king awesome job.
Name: Abe Chabaan, Founder / Co-Owner, Habibi’s Mediterranean Foods, Surrey, B.C.
So how did you get that f*#king awesome job? Can you describe what your job is and what it is that you do?
My mother was a big part of how I got Habibi’s Mediterranean Foods; she came across the opportunity to buy the business that started off as a restaurant on West Broadway with a small factory next to it. She came straight to me, saying that we had to do this! It was so clear to us that this was what we’ve been looking for and we could do so much with this business in terms of growth and opportunities.
We are a local company called Habibi’s Mediterranean Foods and we produce different dips and other products inspired by the Mediterranean and Middle Eastern Kitchen. We wanted to offer some great flavours to the public that started in my grandmother’s kitchen, which my mother used in her restaurant, Mona’s Fine Lebanese Cuisine. The restaurant has inspired many of the Habibi’s products. We are an all-natural no preservatives or fillers brand that only uses real produce. It’s important for us that our consumer knows what’s in their food so one of our taglines is ‘What’s in your Hummus?’
Did you have to give anything up to get here?
Well I had to learn everything on my own so to kickstart Habibi’s to grow into a real manufacturing business, I had to work (and still do) 24/7. The work never ends and I love that because it’s constantly evolving and growing so we have to move along with it and keep up. I feel like the first few years I did not have enough family time because the focus was on Habibi’s so I guess I feel some time lost in that sense where I had to work seven days a week most weeks.
Who or what has been your mentor/inspiration along the way?
I feel like I couldn’t have done this without the support of my mother and sister and of course my wife! Once we had kids I was even more inspired to do better and make sure this company succeeded.
In three words or less, what’s the best part of your job?
Love what I do! I guess that’s 4 …
In three words or less, what’s the worst part of your job?
What did you want to be when you grew up?
I’m a huge history buff and love astronomy so I always thought as a kid that that was what I would get into. I would have loved teaching history to kids so since my life took a different turn I’m trying to teach my kids as much as possible instead, whether they like it not.
What is your drink of choice?
Water, for non alcoholic preference.
Where was the last place you travelled?
Haven’t had time to travel much the last few years but I’ve been to Toronto and Calgary a few times, and Los Angeles last year was probably my last trip outside of Canada.
What’s on your playlist right now?
I love Metal and 80’s Rock. I have a huge variety of different music genres on my playlist from Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath to modern music. I just love music so I tend to be very open minded.
What are your top three reads vis a vis your career (books, magazines, manuals, podcasts)?
I wake up to reading the news and like to be on top of what’s going on in the world and I also keep reading about my industry so a lot is through online resources. My favourite book is probably Ishmael by Daniel Quinn.
Any advice for someone who’s looking to lock down their f*#king awesome job?
Sometimes in life you have to take a chance and just go for it. Take that big leap of faith and do what you want to do. I think that you just have to be mentally prepared that things might not happen in the way you want them to and that your journey might be very long before you see any real results. As long as you are realistic abut your expectations and outcomes I think it will be easier to deal with things that might turn sour. I’m all for dreaming big but I think you need to just be ready that things just might not go perfect. Have a plan B and C where you don’t give up on the idea or that specific thing but maybe you need to approach it differently. How do you learn from your mistakes? How do you become better and stronger from it?
What does the future behold for your f*#king awesome job?
I’m hoping that Habibi’s Mediterranean Foods will be the number one local brand in B.C. and develop awesome brand awareness Canada-wide. We’re hoping that most of our products will be a staple and a must have in people’s fridges.