International Refugee Food Festival comes to South Africa with week-long Cape Town event

For the first time, the Refugee Food Festival is coming to South Africa. From 16 to 26 June, refugee chefs will be invited into Cape Town kitchens to collab with resident chefs to show off their skills, and tell their stories through the food of their home country. The chefs will also be hosted by markets, cooking classes and corporate events.

The Refugee Food Festival is a non-profit international organisation that is currently in its third year. It will be holding events in France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, and San Francisco and New York City in the USA.

Milka and Mamie are a dynamic duo of bakers from the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Milka moved to South Africa about…

Posted by Cape Town Refugee Food Festival on Saturday, June 2, 2018

Three of the restaurants involved in the Cape Town leg of the festival are owned by S.Pellegrino & Acqua Panna Chef of the Year Liam Tomlin: Chefs Warehouse at Maison, Chefs Warehouse and Canteen, and Thali. Also involved are The Power and the Glory and Reverie Social Table. The chefs cooking at these restaurants are Bilolo Sendwe, Patrick Nzinga and Hamidul Hoque, respectively. Patrick already works at Chefs Warehouse and Canteen, but on this night he will be bringing more of himself to the plate.

Patrick is a young, ambitious and creative chef, originally from Angola. In 1996, Patrick and his family fled their home…

Posted by Cape Town Refugee Food Festival on Friday, May 25, 2018

Liam was excited to join in on the initiative. “It’s a very good cause,” he says. “Many talented refugees are not allowed to demonstrate their crafts as they aren’t recognised for the jobs they’re qualified for in their home countries. There are qualified mechanics cleaning bars. They deserve an opportunity to showcase their skills.”

He’s looking forward to the three nights: “We have some very talented young guys taking part and so it’s been very exciting. It’s brought different nationalities into the kitchen and different cuisines along with it. Hamidul is from Bangladesh and so his type of cooking is very suited to Thali.”

Meet Hamidul, a passionate and driven chef from Bangladesh who moved to South Africa in 2011. In his home country, he…

Posted by Cape Town Refugee Food Festival on Tuesday, May 15, 2018

The UN Refugee Agency defines a refugee as “someone who has been forced to flee his or her country because of persecution, war, or violence. A refugee has a well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group. Most likely, they cannot return home or are afraid to do so”. (An official South African definition can be found here.) Many refugees struggle with the difficulties of living in a strange country with a challenging administrative process, xenophobia and stereotypes, as well as the threat of possible persecution from their home countries looming. Because of this, the Refugee Food Festival hesitates to use chefs’ full names in any communication. (We have obtained permission from each chef we mention, however.)

Meet our first chef, Bilolo Sendwe from the Democratic Republic of Congo. Bilolo and his wife moved to South Africa 10…

Posted by Cape Town Refugee Food Festival on Thursday, May 10, 2018

Let’s celebrate these extraordinarily determined and talented individuals who are enriching our country. Go to the Cape Town Refugee Food Festival page to view the entire schedule for the week. Contact the relevant restaurant directly to book/buy tickets for the correct night.

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