Athens Prepares to Welcome Refugee Food Festival

Saturday, June 17th, 2017
Last Update: 17:24

Athens is gearing up for its debut in the Refugee Food Festival which will see five of the city’s top restaurants host refugee chefs from around the world, kicking off on Sunday, June 18.

The European-wide festival is part of the celebrations to mark World Refugee Day which is on June 20.

And after 2 successful editions in France, this citizen-led initiative is being hosted in Athens for the first time, while also expanding all over Europe with Brussels, Amsterdam, Florence, Lyon, Madrid, Marseille, Lille, Bordeaux, Milan, Bari, and Rome all taking part, welcoming chefs from Syria, Afghanistan, Iran, and Somalia – among other nations – to over 70 restaurants.

“This is a great celebration of diversity and a pioneering way to encourage a change in perceptions; because behind each refugee, there is a passionate man or woman with precious talents,” Sudha Nair-Iliades, publisher of Athens Insider magazine, one of the organizers behind the Athens edition of the event, told ANSAmed.

She added: “All of the chefs involved love cooking and have continued to cook either at NGOs, as is the case with Iranian Mahboubeh Takavoli, who cooks for Melissa, or work/ have worked at restaurants in Greece.” “For example, Somalian Hassan Hassan (who will cook at Vasilenas restaurant on June 20-21) came to Greece as a minor and went to a catering school on a scholarship, while Reza Kolami, who will cook at IT on June 22, runs his own Afghani restaurant Folia at Exarchia.”

“They hope that the Refugee Food Festival will help them integrate as professional chefs and that by participating in the Festival, they can give back to Greek society and change the perception of refugees.”

The restaurants involved in the Athens edition of the Refugee Food Festival are all forward-thinking restaurants and have been engaged in supporting other NGOs or causes. Organizers of the event are a part of a citizens initiative created by the association Food Sweet Food, and co-organized by the UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for refugees). The festival has three main objectives: to change perceptions of refugees, accelerate their professional integration, and discover cuisines from all over the world – through the universal power of food.

The restaurants are encouraged to donate a portion of the revenues from the Refugee Food Festival to a charity of their choice and the hope is that they will motivate other restaurants to participate in such community initiatives in the future.

Further details of participating restaurants in Athens as well as profiles of the chefs can be found on the event’s official website, ( ANSA)

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