Athens restaurants invite refugee chefs into their kitchens for another year for the Refugee Food Festival

To mark World Refugee Day, the Refugee Food Festival comes back to Athens from 19 to 24 June 2018 as well as in 13 other cities worldwide, including Brussels, Madrid, Paris, San Francisco, New York and Cape Town. A special Refugee Food Festival event will be also held at Nan restaurant on Lesvos island.

Over one week, and in the same spirit as last year, six restaurants in Athens will support the refugee cause by opening their kitchens to refugee chefs living in Greece. The chefs, including four women, will either cook once or several times in the same restaurant. They will add their own touch to the menu and introduce people to new flavours. They will set their own menu or prepare a meal with a local chef – lunch or/and dinner.

The 2018 edition of the Refugee Food Festival seeks to bring Athenians together around the table and showcase culinary skills of refugees. This will also help accelerate refugee chefs’ professional integration.

Seinat will kick off the festival introducing us to Eritrean gastronomic culture at Blue Fish restaurant, while at the same time Mahboubeh will merge Iranian with Greek flavours at Seychelles restaurant. Adel will continue with a sophisticated Iraqi-inspired meal at the Vassilenas restaurant. Barshank will offer delicious Syrian food at Ama Lachei. Roaa will blend her flavourful Iraqi dishes with Mama Roux’s multi-cultural cuisine. Turia will reinvent Moroccan dishes and gracefully pair them with the innovative cuisine of Scala Vinoteca wine restaurant.

This year, residents and visitors on Lesvos island will also have the opportunity to mark World Refugee Day by eating food from Iraq, Syria and Pakistan at Nan, a café-restaurant in Mytiline, which was founded by four women with the aim of working together to find solutions to benefit both refugees and local people.

“Spending more time in the kitchen of a vegan restaurant to practice on a new cooking style was a great experience that helped me get better. Now I have a part time job cooking at an NGO shelter for refugee girls in Athens; I cook for free for homeless people and I am trying to improve my English. I am looking forward to taking part again in the festival this June,” says Mahboubeh Tavakoli, an Iranian refugee woman, who has been living in Athens for three years and had also participated in last year’s Refugee Food Festival in Athens.

Agenda of the 2018 edition of the Refugee Food Festival in Greece


Tuesday 19 June

Eritrean Cuisine by Seinat Neftalem • Blue Fish, Monastiraki (dinner)

Iranian Cuisine by Mahboubeh Tavakoli • Seychelles Restaurant, Kerameikos (dinner)

Wednesday 20 June

Iraqi Cuisine by Adel Al Ahmad • Vassilenas, Ilissia (dinner)

Eritrean Cuisine by Seinat Neftalem • Blue Fish, Monastiraki (dinner)

Multicultural Cuisine by members of Nan café-restaurant, Mytilene (lunch, dinner)

Thursday 21 June

Syrian Cuisine by Barshank Haj Younes • Ama Lachei at Nefeli’s, Exarcheia (dinner)

Iraqi Cuisine by Roaa Sabah • Mama Roux, Monastiraki (lunch, dinner)

Iraqi Cuisine by Adel Al Ahmad • Vassilenas Ilissia  (dinner)

Friday 22 June

Iraqi Cuisine by Roaa Sabah • Mama Roux, Monastiraki (lunch, dinner)
Moroccan Cuisine by Touria Besbas • Scala Vinoteca, Kolonaki (dinner)

Sunday 24 June

Moroccan Cuisine by Touria Besbas • Scala Vinoteca, Kolonaki (dinner)

You can book a table by calling the restaurants directly.

Find all the practical information on the Facebook event (link).

The Refugee Food Festival is organized by volunteers with the support of Food Sweet Food (the founding NGO) and local offices of UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency. In Athens, the festival is made possible by the commitment, enthusiasm and energy of the Athens Insider team.

The project is also made possible by the help of many local actors. For the 2018 edition of the Refugee Food Festival in Athens, the Greek Council for Refugees, SolidarityNow, the Melissa Network of Migrant Women in Greece and Options Food Lab, contributed to making the festival happen.

Objectives of the Refugee Food Festival:

Changing perceptions of refugees

By bringing people together and showcasing the skills and culinary heritage of refugee chefs from all over the world.

Boosting refugee chefs’ professional integration

Thanks to a network of committed restaurant owners and citizens.

Gathering citizens

Around the table, a universal tool for peace, exchange and sharing.

About Food Sweet Food

French NGO Food Sweet Food (1901 French law association) was created in 2013 to promote culinary traditions from around the world. Food Sweet Food is also behind the launch of the first restaurant and training centre dedicated to refugee chefs in Paris, La Résidence du Refugee Food Festival.

Having travelled across 18 countries and shared food around the dinner tables of dozens of men and women across the world, Food Sweet Food founders Marine Mandrila and Louis Martin realized the power of food to build cultural connections. Through the Refugee Food Festival they want to show how culinary experiences allow us to break down barriers and discover each other’s worlds, by sharing what is both singular and universal: food.


About Athens Insider

Athens Insider has been creating upscale, lifestyle magazines and digital platforms in 5 languages that reach out to discerning Greeks and international readers since 2001. Visually compelling and sharply intelligent with brilliantly researched articles on art and culture, tourism, gastronomy and diplomacy, it is a true Insider’s guide to living and travelling in Greece. Athens Insider also regularly organizes cultural and gastronomic events for charity.



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.

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