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Hamed from Salamatea
Photograph: Supplied

Refugee-run food businesses to support this Refugee Week

Immerse yourself in a myriad of cultures and cuisines with these venues

By Rushani Epa
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Welcome Merchant is a platform for refugee-powered businesses in Australia. The pro-bono service is helmed by Marjorie Tenchavez and a team of volunteers. In collaboration with Welcome Merchant to support local refugee and asylum seeker-led food businesses this Refugee Week (June 20-26, 2021).

Grab a handful of nuts to snack on or hot, fresh kotthu roti for dinner at any of these vendors and learn more about other cuisines and cultures in the process.

Looking for other ways to help? Here are ten places to volunteer your time around Melbourne.

Five refugee-run food businesses to support this Refugee Week

Tuka Tuka Kothu Roti Man
Photograph: Supplied

Tuka Tuka Kothu Roti Man

Tuka Tuka Kothu Roti Man is run by passionate chef Niro Vithyasekar. It’s named after the sound of machete-like knives coming down on a hot steel plate which makes a ‘tuka tuka’ noise. And kothu roti is a Sri Lankan street food comprised of chopped roti, eggs, vegetables, spices and at times meat. You’ll spot his food stall at various markets around town and can keep up to date with his goings-on here.

Dadami at Café Sunshine and SalamaTea House
Photograph: Penny Stephens

Café Sunshine and SalamaTea House

Best known for dishing up Dadami (otherwise known as Dad’s Dip) Café Sunshine and SalamaTea House is fast becoming a Sunshine institution. Run by Hamed Allahyari, the social enterprise café-restaurant was started in 2019 as a venue that provides asylum seekers and refugees work. Hamed was inspired to help others following his own experience as an asylum seeker fleeing Iran. 

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Shamiat
Photograph: Supplied

Shamiat

For homestyle Syrian food look no further than Shamiat in Northcote. The family-owned venue is helmed by husband-and-wife team Attalah Abo and Helda Morane. Attalah previously ran a textile business but the war in Syria forced the family to relocate twice around Syria until the fighting became too much. Helda used to be a chemistry teacher and is now the chef at Shamiat and whips up the likes of fried kibbeh, samousek and more.

Trio Pasta, Sweets and Nuts
Photograph: Supplied

Trio Pasta, Sweets and Nuts

Opened in 2018, Trio Pasta, Sweets and Nuts is a family-owned Syrian pastry shop and takeaway. The venue was established just three years after Joumana Charaf and her family arrived in Australia. Joumana got the idea to start her business when she was working at SisterWorks, the Melbourne-based not-for-profit social enterprise. While there, a SisterWorks volunteer suggested that Joumana start selling Syrian sweets at markets.

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Pot of Courage
Photograph: Supplied

A Pot of Courage

A Pot of Courage is a Ballarat-based social enterprise that also doubles up as a café, cooking school and caterer. The organisation provides migrant and refugee women in regional Victoria employment and business mentoring opportunities. Dishes available at the café rotate via cuisine and promise a delicious education into different cultures.

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