Every one of the twelve cookbooks Arto der Haroutunian wrote became a classic; his thoughtful, erudite writing helped to explain to westerners the subtlety, complexity and diversity of Middle Eastern and North African cooking.
He was born in Aleppo, Syria in 1940 and grew up in the Levant but came to England with his parents as a child and remained here for most of his life. He studied architecture at Manchester University and established a career designing restaurants, clubs and hotels. In 1970, in partnership with his brother, he opened the first Armenian restaurant in Manchester which eventually became a successful chain of six restaurants and two hotels.
Given his passion for cooking it was a natural progression that he should then begin to write cookery books as they combined his love of food with his great interest in history and culture. It was his belief that the rich culinary tradition of the Middle East is the main source of many of our Western cuisines and his books were intended as an introduction to that tradition. Arto der Haroutunian was also a painter of international reputation who exhibited all over the world. His other interests included composing music and translating Turkish, Arab, Persian and Armenian authors. He was a true polymath. He died in 1987 at the untimely age of 47. He is survived by his wife and son who still live in Manchester.