The Closing Meal with Wesal and Restaurant Gigi, Refugee Food Festival Day 5, 24.06.2018

It was hard to believe that we had reached the final day of the Refugee Food Festival in Madrid sitting on the terrace outside Restaurant Gigi with the rich aromas of chef Wesal’s traditional Syrian flavours wafting through the air. Throughout the week eight fully-booked restaurants have flung open their kitchen doors to seven refugee and asylum seeker chefs who have in turn shared their treasured cultural dishes in a professional restaurant environment. The chef …

Building Bridges with Rachida at Ochenta Nextdoor, Refugee Food Festival Day 4, 23.06.2018

The long, open kitchen of Ochenta Nextdoor is on display for the whole restaurant to behold. You are able to watch as the row of dexterous hands, like some culinary conveyor belt, pieces together mouth-watering creations. The operators this evening were the guest Moroccan chef Rachida and the restaurant owner Oscar, and when I caught them, they were laying the final preparations for the penultimate meal of Madrid’s Refugee Food Festival. Another fully booked night, …

Storytelling with Valentín at Elektra, Refugee Food Festival Day 5, 23.06.2018

“He loves talking to people about his food,” another MFR volunteer told me as I arrived to Saturday’s brunch event at Restaurante Elektra. “He has a story for every different type of arepa.” Chef José Valentín was standing behind the buffet table on Elektra’s shady terrace, serving a wide variety of his favorite dishes: a fruit salad in guava juice, a loaf of bread rolled with ham and olives, sweets of all shapes and sizes. …

Cross-Cultural Collaboration with Chef Wesal and Barrutia y El 9, Refugee Food Festival Day 4, 23.06.2018

Walking through the doors at Barrutia y El 9 feels special. It’s the kind of picturesque, old-school Spanish bar that’s becoming more and more difficult to find in Madrid. The walls are covered with ornate tiles and the bar itself, while small, features all of the basic necessities: cold beer and herbed olives waiting to be plated for the guests that began pouring in shortly after I arrived. Luis, the stoic yet amiable chef and …

A Process of Understanding with Ahmad at L’Artisan: Refugee Food Festival Day 3, 21.06.2018

Late last Thursday evening, the fourth chef of the Refugee Food Festival in Madrid, Ahmad A., could be found quietly sitting in an inviting corner of L’Artisan Furansu Kitchen restaurant listening to the happy buzz of diners enjoying her culinary skills. She was stealing some much needed rest after a long day preparing for the fourth meal of the festival and a fully booked restaurant. “Cooking gets me excited, I love doing it all the …