Much is lost when people flee their homes in the face of war, persecution or natural disaster. But cultures are resilient and emerge afresh in the new lands their carriers journey through.
For many migrants and refugees, it is the rhythms, textures and aromas of their past that strengthen fresh roots and a sense of belonging in new their homes.
In a city as diverse and vibrant as Wellington, new cuisines can open doors on unexplored cultures and rich stories.
It’s these stories that are the inspiration behind ‘Welcome Home’. Logan Brown’s Wellington on a Plate event which runs over 8 evenings between Tues16th – Fri 26th Aug.
As part of his research Head Chef Shaun Clouston visited the homes of migrants from Myanmar, Iran and Egypt. And when he contacted Make Foundation co-founders Michel Alkhouri and Michelle Carlile-Alkhouri in search of Syrian chefs, a new door opened and he quickly found himself co-hosting the charity’s ‘Cooking Up A Friendship’ day.
“I knew Make Foundation had been working on creative projects with schools and refugees in response to the Syrian crisis and when Michel told me about their plans for a skills exchange we both saw an opportunity to combine the two projects. Pretty soon after that we were sitting around a table with Michelle, the charity’s other director, eating home-made hummus and planning out the day, the dishes and the feast it would culminate in.”
“The idea was to create an opportunity to learn, share and come together with new friends with the intent of creating at least one skill-exchange opportunity for each participant by the end of the day,” says Michel.
Eight Syrian, Iraqi & Kiwi women made up the small gathering alongside Shaun, Michel and a bunch of amused children who mucked in to hurry proceedings along.
“Seeing these very capable, strong, skilled women in their element, delegating, tasking, sharing their knowledge and making new connections was a joyful sight,” adds Michelle
Cooking Up A Friendship is already reaping benefits for its participants. Head Chefs Shaun and Mona are preparing Logan Brown’s kitchen for the culinary delights that will make up ‘Welcome Home’, and the Kiwi women who attended are teaching their new Syrian friends how to drive.
But that’s not all, as well as creating new friendship opportunities, the day of learning, sharing and celebration strengthened friendships already in the making. Tima, Michelle, Nahreen and the kids – Samo, Carlos, Luis, Luka and Naia – went to the zoo. They’re now planning their next adventure.