Cooking #WithRefugees brings Greek and refugee chefs together for World Refugee Day

To mark World Refugee Day, Greek chefs and refugee cooks will team up between 18 and 22 June to serve their favourite dishes and fixed menus in selected restaurants in Athens, Thessaloniki, Ioannina, and Lesvos island. Greek, Syrian, Afghan, Iraqi, Iranian, Congolese, and Moroccan gastronomy will delight visitors to thirteen restaurants which either belong to refugee cooks or are opening their kitchens to refugee cooks living in Greece for the Cooking #WithRefugees festival organized by UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, and partners.

The festival kicks off in Thessaloniki on 18 June with a special order of Iraqi cuisine with Haifa and Greek chef Manolis Papoutsakis at the Xaroupi Restaurant.

Athens will get a taste of Farid’s savoury Afghan dishes working with the team of Greek chef Dimitris Psaradakis at the Rakor Restaurant in Kerameikos. The Po’Boys Restaurant in Psyrri and Greek chef Vassilis Sporos will host Mehrdad and his flavour-charged Iranian dishes. Syrian inspired street food by Barshank along with Pontian delicacies by Giorgos Glinos at his Food Truck will tempt Athenians visiting Kypseli’s Municipal Market on World Refugee Day, 20 June. Touria’s Moroccan cuisine will delight pundits at Athens’s first street food court StrEaters, where she will work with Greek chef Michalis Giannopoulos. Roaa Sabah, who became a member of the cooking family of chef Vasilis Sporos at Mama Roux Restaurant since her participation in last year’s food festival will welcome Asma and the two will share their secret recipes from Iraq and Syria in the heart of Athens’ Monastiraki district.

As part of the Cooking #WithRefugees festival, food connoisseurs will also be invited to sample dishes at refugee-owned restaurants, including a traditional Afghan menu at Folia which is owned by Reza Golami and the Asian cuisine of the Golden Phoenix in Kefalari where owner Huy Tang Nguyen will prepare specialties from his native Vietnam.


Haifa and Manolis will travel our senses to the rich and aromatic cuisine of Syria at Xaroupi restaurant in Thessaloniki. © UNHCR/Anthi Pazianou


Touria shares her Moroccan culinary secrets with Michalis at StrEaters. © UNHCR/Eva Savvopoulou


Dimitris and Nikos from Rakor restaurant ready to try new Afghan flavours with Farid. © UNHCR/Yorgos Kyvernitis


Mehrdad and Vassilis will prepare Iranian dishes in the kitchen of Po'Boys. © UNHCR/Yorgos Kyvernitis

Greece. The island restaurant where refugees cook for locals

NAN Restaurant in Mytilene, Lesvos where refugees and locals cook together. © UNHCR/Socrates Baltagiannis


Roaa from Iraq and Asma from Syria join forces and show their cooking talent in the kitchen of Mama Roux restaurant. © UNHCR/Yorgos Kyvernitis


Huy, owner of Golden Phoenix restaurants in Athens. © UNHCR/Stella Nanou


Barshank and Giorgos discussing about what to cook at the Food Truck on World Refugee Day in Kypseli’s Municipal Market. © UNHCR/Vasileios Ntanovasilis


Reza in his kitchen at Folia restaurant with Afghan cook Soni serving traditional Afghani cuisine. © UNHCR/Eva Savvopoulou

In Greece’s northwest city of Ioannina, Cooking #WithRefugees will present Syrian, Afghan, and Congolese cuisines of Ibrahim, Faraidoon, and Espoir who will cook together with Andreas Georgoulis, Gianna Tefa and Tzortzis Tsolis, and Maria Klimi in the restaurants Omilos, Presveia and To magazaki pou legame between the 20 and 22 June.

Across the Aegean on the Greek island of Lesvos, visitors to NAN can taste real ethnic food at the first restaurant where refugees and locals work together and share their recipes with the local community of the island. Still on Lesvos, Mahmood Talaa will offer a taste of Syria at his Reem Restaurant in Mytilene.

The Cooking #WithRefugees festival is supported by organisations that help refugees integrate in local societies and find their way into their labour market including ARSIS- Association for the Social Support of Youth, Caritas Hellas, Melissa Network of Migrant Women in Greece, Intersos Hellas and ASB. Part of its revenues will be donated by the participating restaurant to such organisations.

About World Refugee Day

On World Refugee Day, held every year on 20 June, we commemorate the strength, courage and perseverance of millions of refugees. Around the world, communities, schools, businesses, faith groups and people from all walks of life are taking big and small steps in solidarity with refugees. This World Refugee Day, we challenge everyone to join together and take a step with refugees.


UNHCR was established in 1951. It aims at protecting, supporting and finding solutions for refugees, internally displaced people (IDPs) and stateless persons. UNHCR is present in 130 countries. For more than six decades, it has provided protection to people fleeing war, violence and persecution.

In addition to its humanitarian aid programs, UNHCR is working to help refugees rebuild their lives as quickly as possible and find solutions for their future. Language learning, recognition of their qualifications and diplomas and professional integration are key to facilitate their economic, social and cultural integration in the host societies. Studies have shown that if given the opportunity to work, refugees are able to make positive contributions to the local economy and are better able to integrate within their host communities.

Click here to download the programme (pdf)