Fatima, Mouna, Reem, Rafat, Luei and Shiraz came from Syria. They are ready to start cooking. In Mezze, we will use the skills that so many refugees bring with them and share the Arabic culture at the meal table.
We are currently facing the largest wave of refugees since World War II. Should we just stand by and do nothing? We think not. Pão a Pão Association developed an inclusive pioneering project in Portugal: a restaurant where the majority of employees are refugees, and where they can maintain a connection to their culture through food and mealtimes.
Because bread is one of the elements that connects us to home, Mezze will be a space where Arabic bread and many of the dishes that go along with it will be prepared and served. We will be able to taste yalanji, fattoush, kibbeh, hummus, or baklava, all made by hands who carry a lot of stories and a lot of hope in a new beginning. Which starts here. Fatima, Mouna, Reem, Rafat, Luei, Shiraz… had to leave Syria. They, along with other refugees, are ready to start working in Mezze and share with us the amazing cuisine from the Middle East.
There will be also workshops of gastronomy, music and dancing. Everyone will share whatever they have with those who don’t have anything. Mezze will be, above all, a meeting place – between refugees, between them and the local community, tourists, immigrants…
We will use the skills that the refugees bring with them and give them tools so that their work can be valued and professionalized. Thus, we are creating a self-sustainable job-creating solution, and contributing to true inclusion, through a non-profit model that will then be replicated in other places across the country. But we need you to also want to be part of this.
We will open the first Mezze restaurant in May 2017, and we have already guaranteed:
- A space, in the newly-renovated Arroios Market (Mercado de Arroios), in Lisbon;
- Legalized entity;
- Training for the refugees in the restaurant industry;
- Support to language learning;
- An expansion model;
But we still lack the equipment. We need to buy ovens, stoves, pans, tables, chairs…