On Saturday July 8, a small group of Broadsheet Access members excitedly arrived at social enterprise Free To Feed in Fitzroy North. Free To Feed creates inclusive communities through shared food experiences, and empowers refugees and people seeking asylum with hospitality training, employment and social support. The group were keen and ready to get their hands dirty at a special cooking class with Tom Sarafian (ex-Bar Saracen), the beloved Middle Eastern chef famous in Melbourne for his Sarafian Hummus.

Guests gathered around a communal table as Sarafian and Free To Feed instructor Tayebeh demonstrated how to make a selection of delicious Middle Eastern plates including tahdig, a traditional crispy Persian rice dish.

After the class, more Broadsheet Access members joined us for a long afternoon feast prepared by Sarafian, Tayebeh and the Free To Feed team. On the menu was lamb served with Sarafian’s hummus, chicken skewers grilled in toum, and lamb shoulder with harissa. Free To Feed prepared an assortment of desserts including baklava and halva, with each treat representing a Free To Feed team member’s cultural background.

The highlight of the lunch was the Q&A with Sarafian and Tayebeh and a few tears were shed when Tayebeh shared her story. Originally from Ilam, a Kurdish city in northern Iran, Tayebeh immigrated to Australia seven years ago, after a frightening journey that involved crossing the sea from Indonesia. Tayebeh also spoke about how she found community in Free To Feed, which gave her the chance to share her culture in the city.

Tom Sarafian’s cooking class was exclusive to Broadsheet Access members, who also had cheaper tickets to lunch. Join today for more one-off events like these.