FLORENCE, JULY 8 – Restaurants in Greece, France, Spain, Italy, Belgium and the Netherlands opened their kitchens to 80 refugee chefs of 25 different nationalities, allowing them to showcase their skills and share their culinary culture.
Syrian cook Mohammad Elkhaldi donned his chef’s whites to launch this year’s festival on June 15 in the restaurant Le Substrat, owned by award-winning French chef Hubert Vergoin in France’s gastronomic capital, Lyon.
The final dishes were served on June 30 at the Ethnos restaurant in the Florentine neighbourhood of Borgo San Lorenzo, where Ethiopian cook Unatu Tagi and Michelin-starred chef Marco Stabile took over the kitchen.
In total, more than 10,000 diners enjoyed food from countries such as Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia and Cameroon, in surroundings ranging from smart dining rooms to bistros and take-aways. Customers were offered treats from cocktails and ice creams to five-course gastronomic dinners.
The French-born initiative started last year as a partnership between the NGO Food Sweet Food and UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, with the support of partners, citizens, local authorities, restaurants and private businesses, and there are now talks of bringing the festival next year to cities in the United States, Canada, Brazil and Australia.
In Italy, refugee chefs cooked and took part in culinary events over three days, including cooking shows in the upmarket Eataly food shops in Rome, Milan and Bari.
In Milan, Michelin starred chef Viviana Varese and an Ethiopian chef explored Ethiopian cuisine together.
“None of us decides where to get born, so it is fundamental to remember the values of welcome and integration, which are strategic values to build the future of our society,” said Oscar Farinetti, the founder of the Eataly chain. (@OnuItalia)