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The Next Big Thing: NH Foods – Bringing kebbeh to Canadians, and the world

April 2, 2019

By Perry King

Nader Hallal built a business around a simple but delicious middle eastern food with Canadian — and international — appeal.

Hallal is the founder of NH Foods Inc. and creator of Kabkeb Snacks, his first Canadian food brand, focusing on manufacturing frozen kebbeh, a popular food item eaten across the Middle East.

Kabkeb’s kebbeh harkens back to his childhood in Kuwait, but with a Canadian twist: Ontario beef, Canadian-grown bulgur, onions, and spices. The company also offers chicken and vegan options.

“Being a creative, I am seriously looking to take this to the next level,” said Hallal, who in past worked in operations for American Express in Kuwait. His goal? To get all Canadians eating kebbeh “at least once a month.”  

Developing his skills as a marketing strategist in Kuwait, Hallal had the opportunity to lead the food division for Alshaya, a major goods company. He wanted to put a unique stamp on the business — a company that hadn’t sold food services prior to his work — and it paid off.

Hallal shook things up, centralizing the food divisions under one umbrella, changing up their marketing strategy, and acquiring major brands for the company. Along the way, he helped high-profile American franchises like Cheesecake Factory and Shake Shack make international headway.

But, his life hit a major bump. In Kuwait, he was involved in a serious car accident. He suffered life-threatening injuries to his head and arms.

Hallal says he had a moment of reckoning. “Yes, I’m travelling the world [with an] excellent job…but am I happy? This is where it hit me. This is not what I wanted to do.”

After arriving in Canada, he pushed himself to get NH Foods off the ground, building funding and resources, and eventually securing a unit inside FoodStarter.

Since joining the Toronto-based food startup incubator, Kabkeb has seen steady success. FoodStarter helped refine key parts of the business and grow Hallal’s contacts; he now has the attention of Paramount Foods, a company with a sizeable footprint in Canada.

Hallal still plans to keep growing and eventually take his business abroad. His near-death experience gave him the drive to persevere and strive for even greater success.

He echoes a sentiment common to those who have lived through tragedy and come out the other side: “If you doesn’t break you, it’ll make you stronger,” he says.

This article was written and posted originally for StartUp HERE Toronto by Perry King.

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