£25 – £30

Beyond Conflict: A Celebration of Syrian Food and Culture

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Asia House

63 New Cavendish Street

London

W1G 7LP

United Kingdom

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Beyond conflict: A Celebration of Syrian Food and Culture

Lunch with Anissa Helou, prepared by Mataz Alzari

The scale of devastation in Syria is immense. As we focus on media images of human suffering, it is perhaps not surprising that our appreciation of Syria’s cultural heritage is limited. Join renowned writer, journalist and broadcaster Anissa Helou and chef Mataz Alzari for a celebration of Syrian food and culture. Drawing on childhood memories of family trips to Mashta el-Helou, and subsequent visits to Aleppo, the gastronomic capital of the Middle-East, Anissa will explore Syria’s rich and diverse culinary culture. She will reflect on links between Syrian food and identity and will consider how the preparation and enjoyment of traditional dishes is of heightened importance for those living in exile.

Lunch will be prepared by Syrian chef Mataz Alzari. In 2012 Mataz and his wife Yasmine, with their two-year old daughter, were forced to leave Damascus to seek refuge overseas. There followed a three year journey, including a period living and working illegally in Turkey and a perilous journey across the Mediterranean facilitated by human traffickers, before they were able to settle in Romania

The event is in partnership with the Oxford Cultural Collective as part of the series, Migrations – All Our Voices, and part of Converging Paths 2020 in partnership with The Barakat Trust.

About Anissa Helou

Anissa Helou is a chef, food writer, journalist, broadcaster, consultant and blogger focusing on the cuisines and culinary heritage of the Middle East, Mediterranean and North Africa. Born and raised between Beirut, Lebanon, and Mashta el-Helou, Syria, she knows the Mediterranean as only a well-traveled native can. Ms. Helou is the author of numerous award-winning cookbooks including Sweet Middle East, Levant, The Fifth Quarter, An Offal Cookbook; Modern Mezze; Savory Baking from the Mediterranean; Mediterranean Street Food; Café Morocco; and Lebanese Cuisine. Her new book, Feast: The Food of the Islamic World, published in 2018 has been short-listed for the prestigious Art of Eating award. It has also won the James Beard Foundation award in the International category, and is short-listed for the IACP awards.

Helou was the first ever chef-in-residence in Leighton House during their Nour festival in November 2011. In 2013 she helped a group of Egyptian entrepreneurs open Koshari Street in Covent Garden where they serve her gourmet version of Koshari, the ultimate Egyptian street food. Koshari Street was chosen by the FT as one of London’s 5 best street foods.

An accomplished photographer and intrepid traveler, she runs culinary tours to various Mediterranean countries and also teaches cooking classes. She was listed in 2013 in the Arabian Business Magazine as one of the “100 Most Powerful Arab Women” and on the “500 Most Influential Arabs”.

About Mataz Alzari

Mataz had a happy upbringing, influenced by memories of his close family sharing plentiful quantities of freshly-prepared food, he decided early in life he wanted to be a chef. After completing his high-school baccalaureate and enduring two tough years of compulsory national service, his chef training could begin. Specialising in food that represents his own cultural background, Mataz built a successful career, first in a restaurant in a cosmopolitan neighbourhood in Damascus and latterly as a private chef for a wealthy family.

This event is part of the series Converging Paths, a year-long series of events curated for 2020, and organised in partnership by Asia House and The Barakat Trust. With this series we aim to engage audiences in challenging cultural misconceptions about the Islamic world, building bridges between communities and highlighting the importance of the arts of that region. We aim to provide wider access, combining digital platforms and curated cultural programmes that appeal to adults and families.

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Asia House

63 New Cavendish Street

London

W1G 7LP

United Kingdom

View Map

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No Refunds

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