Embracing Diversity at Amicis with Chef Noor: Refugee Food Festival, Day 3, 21.06.2018

Amicis restaurant, tucked away in the maze of cobblestone streets near Plaza Mayor in the center of Madrid, was a welcoming refuge from the hot sun yesterday afternoon. Amicis is described as a place “to share food and drinks in a great environment with good friends,” and after spending only a few short minutes in its dining room I found this to be undoubtedly true. From the owner Maria who greeted me with a smile …

Samira’s Syrian Lunch: Refugee Food Festival Day 2, 20.06.2018

The first sight lunchtime diners got of Samira, their Syrian guest-chef for the afternoon, was in the occasional moments when she emerged from the kitchen a picture of calm control delivering her self-crafted cultural dishes to waiting tables with a humble smile, before disappearing again into the hot kitchen of her adopted workplace, Banibanoo. Her efforts signalled the second day and continued success of Madrid’s week-long Refugee Food Festival, co-organised by MFR and Chefugee. In …

Opening Night of Madrid Refugee Food Festival with Chef Pierre and El Mandela, 19.06.2018

At 10 pm last night, chef Pierre T. was still warmly greeting his guests, shaking their hands, and answering questions about various features of the dishes he had crafted for them. It had been a long day starting with an early morning ACNUR conference where he delivered a speech (and met Jesús Vazquez!), multiple interviews with the press, hours of prepping for the night’s sold-out dinner event, and finally putting the last touches on his …

“Just throw yourself in!”: Benefit Hike and Yoga, 27.05.2018

“The trick is to just throw yourself in, don’t think about it!” This was the teasing advice a bobbing head gave the rest of us who were edging our way into the icy waters of Pantano de San Juan. While this guidance may have been needed by those venturing in for a dip, there was no need for it to be said with regards to the day’s event as a whole as Madrid for Refugees, …

Campaigning to End the Exploitation of Domestic Workers in Lebanon: Documentary Screening, La Piscine, 30.05.2018

Ahmed Ali wants to make invisible people visible. “Their passports are confiscated when they arrive so they have absolutely no rights. Many work for 23 hours straight and have nowhere to sleep,” he tells a crowd of solemn listeners in alternating English and Spanish. “Sometimes they’re not even allowed to leave the house.” Ali is describing the plight of hundreds of thousands of domestic workers brought to Lebanon, often by means of smuggling or human …

Refugee Food Festival 2018, 19th-24th June

From the 19th to the 24th of June, the International Refugee Food Festival will return to Madrid. Eight restaurants will invite skilled refugee and asylum seeker chefs into their kitchens where they will work hand in hand with the resident kitchen chefs and teams to put on a unique menu showcasing the authentic culinary heritage of their home cultures. This will be the third edition of the festival, the second in Madrid, which was first cooked …

New Space, Old World: Chefugee Old World, 25.05.2018

Last Friday evening, I once again found myself chased by the dreary lashes of rain into the warm embrace of another Madrid for Refugees Chefugee dinner. This time, I was greeted by comfortable canvas chairs gathered round long tables being carefully laid by busy volunteers. Vast dishes holding an enticing display of colourful foods from across the world sat in anticipation of the curious stomachs they would soon satisfy.  Chefugee Old World was ready to …

Venezuelan Cuisine with Valentín: Chef, Teacher, and Entertainer, Chefugee Cooking Class, 12.05.2018

I arrived at my second Chefugee cooking class at El Gabinete de Historia Natural near Puerta del Sol and was surprised to be welcomed into a beautiful old history museum. The space, which has been reimagined as a center for community events, is filled with ancient relics, pottery from all over the world, and even the mounted skull from some large, horned mammal. I was greeted warmly at the door and ushered into a large, …

Hiking, Health, and Happiness: Benefit Hike and Yoga, 05.05.2018

There are very few things that truly nurture health in its entirety, that being health of the body, mind, and community, but Madrid for Refugees’ (MFR) Benefit Hikes most certainly do. The event involves a guided hike starting from Cercedilla through the surrounding mountainside and incorporates a relaxing yoga session, with an idyllic backdrop. Hikers are simply asked to pay a suggested donation of €15 with all the proceeds going to MFR directly assisting in …

Cooking Up a Difference with Wesal: Cooking Class with Wesal, 21.04.2018

A pleasant feeling of anticipation lingered in a busy makeshift kitchen where strange contraptions lay on large tables crowded with pre-prepared food and spices of multifarious shapes and colours. This was the setting of the second cooking class organised by Madrid for Refugees (MFR), in which a refugee chef shares their kitchen skills with paying attendees. Guests are taught how to craft a selection of salivating cultural dishes through an interactive experience, and this time …