There was chorba soup, and guima with a gumbu sauce and pancakes on the side. And it was delicious. The first test dinner by Eat & Meet, one of the five finalists of the WDCD Refugee Challenge, was a great success. Eventually the Eat & Meet dinners will be prepared and shared in a transformed city bus, but this one was indoors on a location in Paris.

Eat & Meet is a project proposal that intends to transform old city buses into mobile community spaces and tap into the age old natural law that eating a stranger’s food is the first form of inter-cultural trust. The idea involves a travelling kitchen as a staging ground for food events where cultures and experiences can be shared. Eat & Meet uses food to foster relationships and warm hearts, presenting refugees as an indispensable part of modernity.

Interns in Brazil

The concept was proposed by four architectural and interior designers who met as interns at the studio of Jorge Mario Jauregui in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. As foreigners from Canada and France in Brazil, Jennifer Kinnunen (architectural student with a background in medical sciences), Camille Marshall (architectural student), Marie Legley (interior designer), and Elias Sougrati (stdent urban planner) experienced the value of food for making contact and taking root.

The four entered their concept Eat & Meet to the Refugee Challenge… and won! Since than they have worked hard to develop their concept into a feasible project. Based in Paris again, they have worked together with coaches and advisors in the Accelerator phase of the challenge. Camille and Marie met with two professionals from IKEA in Sweden, who were able to give them good advice about the interior planning of the bus and the use of solar panels for energy supply.

Food de Rue

In December they met with Gaultier Hauchart, who founded Food de Rue, a social enterprise with the aim to create jobs for women by introducing street food vending carts. Just recently they also met Maryam, an Afghan woman who worked for the International Rescue Committee and World Food Programme in Kabul, before she landed in Norway where she worked in the kitchens of refugee centres. Maryam agreed to work with Eat & Meet on the next dinner.

Eat & Meet’s première dinner was in January made by three Sudanese chefs: Ibrahim Omar Gadarif, his wife Khaleda, and Mahdi, who got help from their friend Abdul Aziz. They prepared the traditional African soup chorba, followed by a meat dish called guima that is made with potatoes, onions, tomatoes, garlic, herbs and pepper.

Grand Finale

Tempted to taste yourself, while meeting great people? Keep an eye on Eat & Meat’s Facebook-page. And if you want meet the E&M team, see that you get a seat at the Grand Finale of the WDCD Refugee Challenge on 7 March in Amsterdam.

Top image: impressions from the Eat & Meet première dinner (photo’s by Hubert Nicanor)

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