The Refugee Food Festival is Landing in San Francisco: Celebrating Cooking & Hospitality Across Cultures

San Francisco is no stranger to the refugee topic, from the recent debates on its sanctuary city status to the way refugee and immigrant chefs are an embedded part of the community. It’s hardly a coincidence, then, that the Refugee Food Festival, an initiative in partnership with the United Nations and the French NGO “Food Sweet Food,” has chosen San Francisco for its first U.S. installment. The festival, which was launched in Paris in 2016, is taking place between June 19-23rd in various restaurants across town, right in time for Refugee Day (June 20).

Not unlike restaurant week, a number of San Francisco restaurants will hold dinners over the duration of the festival, showcasing one refugee chef at a time. On June 19th, Hog Island Oyster Co will host Pa Wah, a Burmese chef; on June 20th the Mediterranean restaurant Tawla will host the Iraqi chef Muna; on the 21st, Dosa will host Anu, a chef from Bhutan, on the 22nd Son’s Addition in the Mission will feature the Iraqi chef again, and to close, on June 23rd Jardiniere, Traci Des Jardins’ institution, will feature a Senegalese chef. Updates can be found on the festival’s Facebook page.

The festival’s arrival to San Francisco is the initiative of Sara Shah, a San Francisco-based activist who partnered with the French NGO ‘Food Sweet Food’ and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to bring the festival overseas. “I was a political science major in college and my research focused on refugee issues, particularly refugee camp design in the Middle East,” Shah says. “After graduating from college, I knew I wanted to continue to pursue a career in humanitarianism and help the refugee population in whatever ways I could. Refugee Food Festival has been the perfect project, allowing me to develop relationships with these wonderfully resilient human beings.”

On June 21st Refugee Food Festival will also partner with WeWork San Francisco, for a collaborative dinner the proceedings of which will be donated to La Cocina. Spots can be reserved here.

Reservations for the festival’s dinners can be made directly through the participating restaurants. 

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