The Freekeh Harvest story began, not surprisingly, over delicious food.
Leslie Touma was out with a good friend, enjoying a wonderful dinner at their favorite fine dining restaurant in Washington DC. Leslie shared her plans to introduce freekeh to the American consumer in the form of a new snack product. Her friend knew and introduced Leslie to the co-owner and front-of-house presence at the Fabio Trabocchi Restaurant Group, Maria Font Trabocchi. As the coronavirus began to shutter restaurants worldwide, Maria thought the timing was perfect to introduce Leslie to Chef Michael Fusano, a Le Cordon Bleu trained–corporate executive chef of multiple nationally acclaimed establishments, including Fabio Trabocchi restaurants. The three immediately bonded over their love of eating, preparing and sharing great food with friends and loved ones. All three were committed to nutritious and delicious snacks from products sourced naturally and sustainably. They got to work on creating Freekeh Harvest®’s signature Baked Pita Chips.
Leslie loves to travel and has worked and lived overseas in amazing countries- France, Germany, Italy, Austria, Belgium, England, Switzerland, Mexico, Japan, Lebanon, Russia and Turkey – to name a few! She enjoys the unique experiences of different cultures, food and meeting new people. Born and raised in Metro Detroit, Leslie has been an executive with leadership positions in Fortune 150 companies, entrepreneurial ventures, federal and state government and non-profit organizations. Her professional expertise covers international trade and work with the private sector to expand export opportunities, and the national security and homeland security sectors. Her corporate background includes serving as the first female corporate officer in a Fortune 150 company. She holds a master’s degree in International Relations from the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies in Washington D.C. Touma is the proud daughter of Lebanese immigrants on her father’s side and grew up enjoying large, legendary weekly celebrations with her extended family, gathering around bountiful food, hospitality and love of family.
Luxury hospitality consultant and brand management entrepreneur, Maria Font Trabocchi is famously known for her exceptional ability to make every guest, client and customer feel special.
Named one of the “100 Most Powerful Women in Washington DC”, Maria currently serves as brand ambassador for multiple luxury companies including Aston Martin and Premier Wellness Travel. She founded MFExperiences which advises luxury hospitality companies.
In 2011, Maria made a winning bet alongside her ex-husband Fabio Trabocchi when they opened their first restaurant, Fiola, in Washington DC. Fiola was awarded a Michelin star in the inaugural Michelin guide to Washington DC and has maintained its Michelin star status ever since. Off Fiola’s success, the Fabio Trabocchi Restaurant Group expanded up to five additional restaurants and Maria received universal recognition as a master in restaurant design and luxury branding with an uncompromising commitment to quality.
Born in Mallorca, the daughter of a diplomat, Maria grew up in Washington DC where she attended school, raised a family, began her career and became an American citizen.
Corporate Executive Chef Michael Fusano is currently the executive chef of La Bise, a modern French restaurant just steps from the White House. Before La Bise, Fusano headed nationally acclaimed kitchens throughout the world. Mentored by Chef Fabio Trabocchi at Casa Luca, Fusano was the opening executive chef at Sfoglina in Washington, winning a Bib Gourmand from the esteemed Michelin guide. California-born Fusano was classically trained at Le Cordon Bleu culinary school in Pasadena California. Raised by his Italian father and French-Canadian mother to appreciate wholesome food at home, Food & Beverage Magazine wrote: “Fusano learned that food was an expression of life and love which should be respected and honored. Playing beneath the olive orchards of his grandfather’s farm, he learned firsthand about diligence and the dedication that it requires to grow quality produce; nothing can be taking for granted. Inevitably, this would lay the foundation for his culinary career.”