You may have heard of #CookForSyria. The London-based initiative began last year as a supper club to raise funds for Syrian refugees. The nation-wide fundraiser soon became a global movement, attracting the support of world-class chefs such as Jamie Oliver and Yotam Ottolenghi.
On March 6, Melbourne will host its own Cook for Syria dinner and serve dishes by some of the city’s top chefs, including Frank Camorra (MoVida), Shaun Quade (Lûmé), Victor Liong (Lee Ho Fook), David Moyle (Franklin), Philippa Sibley (Syracuse), Thi Le (Anchovy), Karen Martini (Mr. Wolf), David Thompson (Long Chim) and Shane Delia (Maha, Biggie Smalls).
Each chef will prepare a special dish for the night. From Vietnamese to Thai to Italian, the dinner will feature a variety of cuisines with a Syrian twist.
It’s an opportunity to sample signature dishes − such as Thompson’s pomegranate and prawn salad − from a number of celebrated chefs at once. The meal will be a shared, banquet-style, and will include canapés, starters, mains and desserts.
“It will be a caravan of flavours,” says Thompson, who recently opened his fourth Long Chim restaurant at Crown. “Some nice food, a good chat, and a hopefully a little bit of money [for UNICEF].
“Given what’s happening, we all have a responsibility to put our hands across the waters and help any refugees. It becomes particularly important as some borders are closed.”
All money raised from the Cook For Syria dinners (there’s one happening in Sydney, too) will go towards UNICEF Australia’s Syria Crisis Appeal, which is a month-long campaign beginning February 27.
For some of the chefs involved the cause is particularly meaningful.
“Food has no language, food has no barriers, and myself − I come from refugee parents coming to Australia,” says Thi Le. “So I guess there’s a bit of a connection, fleeing from war-torn countries.
“As a chef, you can find yourself in this small world [where] everything revolves around food. Doing something like this opens [cooking] up to do good in the world outside.”
In addition to the Melbourne and Sydney dinners, UNICEF is encouraging people to get involved with their own supper clubs and bake sales.
The Melbourne dinner will be held at The Point, 10 Aquatic Drive, Albert Park on March 6 at 6.30pm. Cost is $320 per person plus a $9 booking fee. Tickets are available here.