Four award-winning, Irish-based, foreign-born chefs host a dinner with their Syrian refugee counterparts, to highlight the universal and democratic power of the table this month.
Chefs Damien Grey of Dublin’s Heron & Grey (from Australia), Takashi Miyazaki of Miyazaki in Cork (born in Japan), Jess Murphy of Kai in Galway (originally from New Zealand) and Mickael Viljanen of The Greenhouse in Dublin (a Finn) will cook dinner with five Syrian chef colleagues on the night of Sunday October 29th in Galway’s Loam restaurant.
As Ireland has become home to these talented ex-pat chefs, welcoming them and giving them the opportunity to contribute and create valuable and exciting new communities around each respective business, these four talents want to pass on that same sense of welcome to new refugee chefs with this fantastic initiative.
“We are asking the public along to enjoy a night of big flavours and big hearts,” says chef Jess Murphy of Kai.
We have been generously supported in this project by UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, and by some of the exceptional producers that the four of us are privileged to use in our own restaurants on a daily basis. As a bunch of immigrants we have all had our own experiences of feeling like aliens in a foreign land. It makes sense to us to try and ease other peoples’ entry into this country, however we can.
With a chronic shortage of chefs in the Irish hospitality industry, this is an opportunity for refugee chefs to flex their kitchen muscles. They also get to share their particular knowledge, expertise and skills to the benefit both of the four cooks sharing their kitchen, and of dinner guests on the night.
“This is a wonderful project that will bring Galway people and refugees together around a good meal and delicious food,” said Enda O’Neill, Head of Office with UNHCR Ireland. “When we think of the many things refugees bring with them to their new countries, we often forget that they also bring their talents and skills too.”
The Far-Fetched Dinner is designed by these four adopted chefs not just to provide food for thought and, of course, create some cracking dishes, but also to leave an important and lasting legacy too.
Cáit Noone, Vice President of International Engagement and Head of the Galway International School said “The Galway International Hotel School is delighted and proud to support this wonderful initiative led by Ireland’s finest culinary leaders. In GMIT we are proud of our diverse and multi-cultural community and recognise the burden in which families in direct provision are placed.”
“Some of our students and lecturers will support this special dinner. In addition the school is developing a short accredited course in professional cooking skills for those in direct provision. This will equip them with Irish food safety knowledge and enhanced cooking skills ensuring they are ready to join the workplace as and when such restrictions are lifted,” she added.
Diners can expect music from the Galway Ukulele Orchestra and the evening will be documented by Heavy Man Films. The Far-Fetched Dinner begins at 6.30pm, with a menu created by the adopted Irish and their Syrian colleagues served with matching wines provided by Shane Murphy of Findlater Wines – another ex-pat Australian, originally from Melbourne.
Shane has also entered into the spirit of the Far-Fetched Dinner by selecting wines made by immigrants too, a story he will go into detail about on the night, as he introduces each wine.
“Sharing food is the best way to get to know any culture, any society, any individual,” says chef Takashi Miyazaki.“Cooking for someone and eating together are two precious ways of understanding other people and of marking and describing your own place in the world,” says chef Mickael Viljanen.
“Our Far-Fetched Dinner is a chance to share our own stories, bringing everyone together in the way we know best. It is the first in what will be an on-going series of events around the country,” Viljanen added.
The Far-Fetched Dinner in Loam, Galway on Sunday 29th October with wine costs €120 per ticket, and tickets are available from eventbrite.ie.