Syrian Refugees Serve Traditional Plates for Brazilians

Syrian Refugees Serve Traditional Plates for Brazilians

Wednesday, 17 October, 2018 - 06:00
Syrian refugee women prepare their regional dishes in Beirut in a 2013 file photo. JOSEPH EID/AFP
Sao Paulo - Asharq Al-Awsat
Every Friday, a new restaurant opens its doors in Sao Paulo, allowing the city's residents to taste food from a different country. These meals are prepared by refugees and immigrants currently living in the large Brazilian city.

The idea behind the project, dubbed Open Taste, was created by Joanna Ibrahim, a Syrian refugee who seeks to provide refugees and migrants with the opportunity to refine skills that would help them in their asylum.

Open Taste also offers chefs an opportunity to earn some money by using their cooking skills and serving traditional recipes to people craving new cultural experiences in Sao Paulo.

Ibrahim's idea debuted as a mobile app dubbed "Bab Sharqi," where new immigrants can promote the skills or products they can sell to a wider audience. When Joanna realized that many refugees had promoted cooking skills, she came up with the idea of Open Taste.

During an interview with Reuters, Joanna said: "We started the project with a one-day event per week at the dining house. We called in different chefs who worked with many cuisines to prepare their own food and menus. Then, we rented the place and marketed it to attract customers."

Joanna explained that the turnout was great and that customers enjoy listening to the story behind the food they eat and the people who prepare it.

"People really like the initiative. They talk to their friends about the experience. The food impressed many people, which this is great for us. We started six months ago in April, so people used to visit Open Taste at the same place every Friday. It's great for us and for the chefs as well."

The chefs, some of whom asked to hide their identities, said they hope the Open Taste project to continue and expand further.

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