Make Food, Not War

PHOTOS: Jane Mitchell

At the last Chefugee “Old World” pop up dinner, one of the Syrian refugees named Hevin told the appreciative guests in haltering Spanish that “Spain is very much like Syria.” Admittedly, that drew some chuckles from the crowd, but the Kurdish woman and mother of three went on to say in (translated Arabic) that it’s because the people of Madrid have been very warm and friendly to her, and it reminded her of the warmth of the Syrian people.

It’s these morsels that I savour each time I find myself exhausted (both mentally and physically) while pushing Project Chefugee forward and true to its core philosophy of “compasión y comida” – of peace through plates.

And right now, for the second year in a row, I’m knee deep in co-organizing the much anticipated international event (and what I call “Chefugee on steroids”) – The 2018 Refugee Food Festival, brought to us by Paris-based NGO Food Sweet Food and UNHCR/ACNUR, the UN Refugee Agency.  It’s a genuine honor to be the Project Holder once more for my adopted home of Madrid.

As promised, here is the lineup of the 8 restaurants that are participating this year (plus some beautiful words shared by the refugee cooks), in this large production promoting peace in the planet by bringing us closer together through that universal language we all understand: food.

✱ Tuesday, 19 june (dinner) – Cameroonian and French cuisine by Pierre T.
Reservations: 911 42 98 00
💶 Price : 20€

“Cooking is my passion. Cameroon’s gastronomy is unique and varied, every ethnic group has its style of presenting and preparing their plates. Without a doubt, it’s a cuisine to discover” – Pierre T., Cameroonian refugee

✱ Wednesday, 20 june (lunch) – traditional Syrian cuisine by Samira W.
Reservations: 810 52 11 27
💶 Price menu del día : 16€

“Syrian food has unique flavours, with special dishes like kebbih, moukhieh, soumakieh and yalanji, or stuffed grape leaves. I like cooking because it’s an artistic and positive activity – I feel happy in the kitchen!” – Samira W., Aleppo, Syria

✱ Thursday 21 june (lunch) – traditional Syrian cuisine by Noor M.
Reservations: 910 58 78 80
💶 Price menu del día : 19,50€

“Cooking shows my art behind the stoves. Syrian cuisine is a national heritage, where every dish requires much preparation. Everything is distinct and has unique flavours, thanks to all the spices.” – Noor M. Syrian refugee

✱ Thursday 21 june (dinner) – Sudanese-Egyptian food by Ahmad A (with the wonderful French-Japanese touch of chef Stephane Shoji of L’Artisan)
L’Artisan-Furansu Kitchen
Reservations: 914 20 31 72
💶 Price closed menu : 30€

Ahmed1 300ppi print-1.jpg
“I am always happy when I cook especially when I see people enjoying what I prepare.” – Ahmad A., Sudanese refugee

✱ Friday 22 june (dinner) – Syrian-Basque menu by Wesal A.
Barrutia y El 9
Reservations: 913 19 29 46

💶 Price range closed menu : 35-40€

“Syrian food is very different and has a unique flavour. I love cooking because it makes my family and others happy.” – Wesal A., Syrian refugee

✱ Saturday 23 june (brunch) – Venezuelan brunch (with Elektra’s stylish touch) by José Valentin A.
Elektra Madrid
Reservations: 912 54 59 11
💶 Price for brunch : 30€

José valentin 300ppi -print-163 (1)
“I like what my sentiments bring to every dish I prepare. Venezuelan food is unique because every dish has a story, a feeling, something to express. It represents a culture, a day to share, to delight in – when you eat a hayaca in July you’re thinking of Christmas, or when you eat an arepa abroad you suddenly are brought back home to your mother.” – José A., Venezuelan asylum seeker

✱ Saturday 23 junio (dinner) – Syrian-Moroccan cuisine by Rachida K (with the guidance of amazing Spanish chef Oscar)
Ochenta Nextdoor
Reservations: 914 27 03 12

💶 Price dinner: 28€


“I love cooking Moroccan and Syrian food. Cooking is my hobby and I’m happy sharing what I cook with others. Good food gives birth to special occasions.” – Rachida K., Moroccan refugee, who fled Syria with her Syrian husband and children.

✱Sunday 24 junio (lunch) – traditional Syrian cuisine by Wesal A.
Gigi Restaurante
Reservations: 680 40 89 71

💶 Price lunch: 28€

After hosting a Ukrainian asylum seeker last year, Restaurante Gigi is returning this year to host a Syrian refugee Wesal A.

As always, Make Food, Not War! See you at the festival! (I’ll be the one looking like a dishrag lol).


For more info on the 2018 Refugee Food Festival for Madrid, click here .


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