Syrian chef Imad Alarnab has an amazing story. After opening his first restaurant in Damascus in 2000, he steadily built up what he calls ‘a small empire’ of food and juice joints in the city. All of it was swept away as the city became more and more war-torn and dangerous. By 2014, Imad’s empire was gone. He fled Damascus and his country and crossed Europe to the UK. But he never lost his passion for cooking or cooking for others, and now he is opening a permanent restaurant off Carnaby Street.
On his journey, Imad cooked for his fellow refugees using makeshift kitchens in camps. In Calais, he would regularly cook for 40 or 50 people. By 2017, he was running pop-ups in London. The response was tremendous, but Imad didn’t turn his back on his troubled history, raising £200k to keep Aleppo’s only children’s hospital running for another crucial six months.
His new restaurant will be in Kingly Court, alongside the likes of Shoryu, Le Bab and Good Egg. To get it going, there’s a crowdfunder for £50k. Imad has promised to donate the entire amount to charity Choose Love once he’s properly established. After that, £1 from every bill will go to the charity, in addition to money from his fundraising supper clubs.
It might seem mad to be opening your first permanent London restaurant in the midst of curfews and social distancing, but you feel that if anyone on the planet can make a go of it through sheer determination and a will to feed and nurture others, it’s Imad Alarnab. Plus, his food really is delish.
Contribute to Imad’s crowdfunder here.