MEET JAY HAJJ
Jay Hajj was born in Beirut, Lebanon in 1970 and as a boy his family was caught in the crossfire of the Lebanese Civil War.
Jay and his family escaped to Boston, Massachusetts, where his traditional Middle Eastern tastes were exposed to an exciting new world of global flavors: Italian, Greek, Irish, Chinese, Japanese, American and plenty of New England seafood.
Jay got his first job washing dishes at age 13 at Vinny Marino’s, a beloved Italian restaurant in Boston’s Roslindale neighborhood and soon was working as a line cook while developing his life-long passion for great, delicious food. He opened Temptations, a popular local falafel shop, in the late 1980s and by 1995, at just 25 years old, Jay purchased a struggling new eatery in Boston’s South End neighborhood called Mike’s City Diner.
Mike’s quickly developed a large and loyal following and the diner’s reputation soon spread far and wide. Mike’s City Diner is now a beloved Boston institution that that serves classic American fare savored by neighbors, celebrities and political power brokers such as President Bill Clinton.
Jay is a frequent guest on the Food Network, where he whips up his favorite dishes with Guy Fieri on “Guy's Big Bite,” “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” and “Guy's Grocery Games.” The Food Network in 2014 named Jay's Pilgrim sandwich one of the Five Best Thanksgiving meals in America.
Jay supports many Boston-area charities with his chef pals, develops real estate and restaurants around Boston and in 2017 released his first cookbook, “Beirut to Boston: Comfort Food Inspired By A Rags-To-Restaurants Story” which describes Jay’s culinary journey beginning with his childhood in Beirut amid the Lebanese Civil War.