Irish Restaurants open their doors to refugee chefs for the first Irish Refugee Food Festival

16 restaurants and food business across Ireland taking part in festival, which will culminate in welcome dinners in Dublin and Cork on 20 June, World Refugee Day


Refugee Chefs Vuyisile Mbangiwa and Sinqobizitha Mguni from Zimbabwe in St Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin. Vuyisele and Sinqobizitha are among 22 chefs and bakers taking part in the first Irish Refugee Food Festival this June across 16 Irish restaurants and food businesses. Welcome dinners will also be hosted in St Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin and Kinsale Road Direct Provision Centre, Cork on June 20, World Refugee Day.   ©  Pic by Marc O'Sullivan


The Irish Refugee Food Festival crackles in to life this 12 June, as  Drogheda’s Eastern Seaboard opens its doors to chefs and bakers with refugee status, or refugee applications under consideration.

The Festival is part of a series of events UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is organising with partners from Kai Restaurant, Galway, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin and Lisa Regan PR to mark World Refugee Day on 20 June.

In total, 16 restaurants and food businesses across Ireland will welcome new chefs in to their kitchens to showcase their skills and share their culinary heritage in a series of events culminating in welcome dinners on 20 June, World Refugee Day, in St Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin and Kinsale Road Direct Provision Centre, Cork.

Despite the difficult and tragic circumstances in which people flee, we should not forget that refugees bring skills and talents to their new homes” said Enda O’Neill, Head of Office with UNHCR Ireland. “With the right to work being introduced for asylum-seekers, the Refugee Food Festival aims to connect people with employers that are eager for their experience and know-how.” 

Over 270 refugees and asylum-seekers are invited to a welcome dinner for refugees in St Patrick’s Cathedral on 20 June. Meanwhile, chef Jess Murphy of Kai Restaurant will cook alongside five residents of Kinsale Road Direct Provision Centre on the same date. Kinsale Road is one of the first direct provision centres in Ireland to introduce self-catering, one of the key recommendations of the 2015 McMahon report. 

According to Murphy, Irish restaurants need 7,000 staff, many of whom may be in Ireland’s new communities:

This month we are all showing through our kitchens how much we need people in there working. There is a massive chef shortage in Ireland and by having our peers from other countries in working, prepping and cooking food, we are filling positions where there is a real shortage of skilled staff. On top of this we are all learning from each other, experiencing real food culture in the kitchen. That is only going to benefit us all. This is happening in 16 locations across Ireland, and it is a very positive thing.”

The following restaurants and food business will participate in the refugee food festival: Eastern Seaboard, Drogheda; Heron & Grey, Dublin; 3fe, Dublin; Five Points, Dublin; Cloud Picker Coffee in The Science Gallery, Dublin; Seasons, Guinness Storehouse, Dublin; Bean and Goose, Ferns; Loam, Galway; Kai, Galway; Miyazaki, Cork; The Tannery, Dungarvan; Dela, Galway; Café Rua, Castlebar; Pudding Row, Easkey; Shell’s, Sligo; Sheridan’s Cheesemongers, Dublin and Galway; and FoodSpace operated restaurants and cafes, nationwide.

For all information of what’s happening in each restaurant, check out their social media channels or search the hashtag #OpenTheDoorIreland.

Note to editors:

The Refugee Food Festival is part of a series of events UNHCR is organising with partners to mark World Refugee Day on 20 June.

Over 200 libraries and bookshops are participating in the annual book reading campaign from 18-30 June, being launched on 12 June by children's author Dave Rudden.

Meanwhile on 24 June, UNHCR and Sport Against Racism Ireland (SARI) host the 9th Fair Play Football Cup in the Law Society Garden’s, Dublin 7.