By Jo Rittey
Australia’s top kitchen talent comes together this month to do their bit for children displaced by the conflict in Syria. Following the inspiring success of #CookForSyria in the UK, the Australian version is a new nationwide fundraising initiative – in aid of UNICEF Australia’s Syria Crisis Appeal for Children – with a month-long campaign and a spectacular charity dinner held at The Point Albert Park, in Melbourne.
Some of the country’s best and most exciting chefs including Andy Harmer (The Point), Thi Le (Anchovy), David Moyle (Franklin and Longsong), David Thompson (Long Chim), Karen Martini, Shane Delia (Maha), Shaun Quade (Lume), Frank Camorra (Movida), Victor Liong (Lee Ho Fook), Jacques Reymond, Dave Verheul (Embla), will come together to create an unforgettable dinner, serving their signature dishes with a Syrian-inspired twist.
“I am looking forward to being a part of this campaign alongside a wonderful group of friends and colleagues, and creating and sharing dishes that respect the culture of the Middle East,” says Jacques Reymond. “It’s an incredible honour to be invited to participate in this campaign,” adds David Thompson. “Having been a visitor to Syria, I strongly believe in the cause and am very much looking forward to an amazing evening, working with my fellow chefs to create an unforgettable feast, and raising money to help provide life-saving support to children in Syria and surrounding countries who are displaced by the conflict.
Join this incredible line-up of chefs for an inspiring dinner at The Point on Monday 6 March at 6.30pm. Tickets are $329 per person (including booking fee), for canapés, cocktails on arrival, a shared Syrian-inspired feast and wine. Book your seats via Goldentix.
The campaign was initially put together by influential London Instagrammer, ClerkenwellBoy in collaboration with SUITCASE Magazine and NEXTGen London – UNICEF UK’s young professional movement – and launched in London in November 2016. Top British chefs involved include Jamie Oliver, Yotam Ottolenghi, Fergus Henderson, Angela Hartnett and Nuno Mendes. Over £125,000 was raised in the first month from pop-ups, supper-clubs, bake sales and participating restaurants. The #CookForSyria campaign aims to encourage everyone from top chefs and restaurants, to people at home, to cook and raise money to help children and families affected by the conflict. The conflict enters its seventh year in March. Donations can be made at unicef.org.au/cookforsyria
Throughout March restaurateurs, chefs, bakers and café owners from around the country have been invited to take part in #CookForSyria by putting a ‘Syrian inspired twist’ on one of their favourite signature dishes (or by creating a new dish) and donating $3 from each sale of that dish – baharat quail with tamarind at Firedoor in Surry Hills, say, or pickled octopus with Aleppo pepper at CBD hotspot Restaurant Hubert in Sydney. Syrian cuisine is one of the oldest in the world reflecting the country’s rich cultural heritage with influences from across the Middle East and beyond, and participating chefs have a wealth of ingredients and ideas to draw upon.
Restaurants and food partners that have already committed to the March campaign include: The Point, Le Ho Fook, Embla, Movida, Lume, Maha, No 1 Bent St, Billy Kwong, Long Chim (Sydney, Perth & Melbourne), Quay, Bennelong, Acme, Automata, Ester, Bar Brose, The Bridge Room, Momofuku Sei? bo, Three Blue Ducks and many more.
“We hope that through the #CookForSyria campaign we will not only be able to raise significant and much needed money for Unicef Children of Syria Fund, but we will also increase awareness of the plight of children in the war-torn country,” says Clerkenwellboy. “Through cooking, sharing recipes and the reach of social media, we invite everyone to help make a difference and positive contribution towards this important initiative.”
#CookForSyria: The Recipe Book 2016 is now available at Dymocks, Kinokuniya, Gleebooks, Berkelouw, Better Read Than Dead, and online via Booktopia ($54.95).
Jo Rittey is a freelance writer who wants to live in a world where apostrophes are used correctly and smiles are genuine. When she’s not roaming the streets of the northside in search of great food, she likes getting lost in beautiful films and having wildly enthusiastic discussions with her friends.