chefs prepare vegetarian East African cuisine at Ginger & Lime Food Studio at last year’s Refugee Food Festival.     Cindy Helfer
chefs prepare vegetarian East African cuisine at Ginger & Lime Food Studio at last year’s Refugee Food Festival. Cindy Helfer
African fusion, Congolese, Eritrean, Rwandan and Syrian dishes will feature at various venues.     Photo: Cindy Helfer
African fusion, Congolese, Eritrean, Rwandan and Syrian dishes will feature at various venues. Photo: Cindy Helfer
African fusion, Congolese, Eritrean, Rwandan and Syrian dishes will feature at various venues.     Photo: Cindy Helfer
African fusion, Congolese, Eritrean, Rwandan and Syrian dishes will feature at various venues. Photo: Cindy Helfer
Cape Town – For the second consecutive year, Cape Town will host the groundbreaking Refugee Food Festival where local restaurants open their kitchens to refugee chefs, jointly creating innovative menus to expand the taste buds of guests.

Recognised as the Event of the Year by the World Restaurant Awards 2019, a restaurant, movie theatre, cooking class studio and a market in the Mother City will, from June 4-9, open their kitchens to six refugee chefs to help change perceptions of refugees, foster their professional integration and share the best of world cuisines.

Through four-hands menus (a collaborative series of dishes with no restrictions on recipes, ingredients or techniques), the guest chefs will design and prepare the best dishes of their home-country for dinner, lunch, brunch or snacks.

Over a few days, African fusion, Congolese, Eritrean, Rwandan and Syrian dishes will feature at the various venues. Each event will allow Capetonians to discover unique flavours, vibrant places to eat, and engage with chefs. There will also be a special event at the Labia Theatre that will include a documentary screening to feed minds as well as stomachs.

The Refugee Food Festival is organised by locals who volunteer to develop the project in their own cities.

In Cape Town, Cindy Helfer and her team were organising the event and would contribute to supporting cooks after the festival, in collaboration with French association Food Sweet Food, which founded the project. 

“Last year, Capetonians and refugees celebrated the richness of Cape Town’s multi-cultural population in the kitchen and around the dinner table. All 13 refugees were very proud to serve the food they grew up eating,” she said.

Since June 2016, 157 refugee cooks of 43 nationalities took part in the project and about 30 000 citizens ate out in a partner restaurant.

This year’s festival will be held simultaneously in 15 cities around the world, enabling about 10 000 visitors to show their solidarity by eating out, 150 restaurants to show their support with refugee chefs and 130 refugee chefs to show their know-how.

The 2019 festival is made possible through partners Fondation de France, Fondation Caritas France, Elior Group Solidarités and Relais & Châteaux.

The UN Refugee Agency has supported the festival since its inception in Paris in 2016. Visit www.refugeefoodfestival.com