Dubai, United Arab Emirates (CNN) – Civil war has destroyed three popular chef Imad Al-Ranb’s popular restaurants in the Syrian capital, Damascus, and bars he owned that sell juices and coffee. What forced him to leave his homeland.
He described his journey as a refugee across Europe, to London in 2015, as arduous and arduous, setting aside his profession and looking for a job that would provide a roof over him and his family.
For a while, his passion for cooking remained in his kitchen, until he began collaborating with refugee charities in 2017, such as the UNICEF New Generation project and Choose Love UK refugee assistance. Under the collaboration, a chain of restaurants and dinner clubs that CNN visited in 2017 opened, as well as falafel stalls.
Tickets for the dinner clubs sold out very quickly and people gathered in long queues in front of the rabbit falafel stalls, with the intention of eating the lunch that had been made in every language.
Opening a central restaurant in London was the goal of a bunny that would be difficult to achieve, given London’s high rental prices.
However, his goal was achieved as his fame grew in the culinary world.
“Imad Al-Suri Restaurant” opened its doors in May 2021, in the Soho area of central London and the menu included a variety of delicious dishes, including falafel, Indian kebab, lamb and stews of all kinds.
At a time when some refugees need training to find a job in a new country, Rabbit showed that good food is universal and said he always knew he would find his way to cook to survive.
“I connect with people through my dishes, which is great,” Bunny told CNN.
Like in my house
The rabbit wanted the interior design of the “Imad Al-Suri Restaurant” to be very simple, sleek and refreshing, as he painted his soil with some blue tiles, in order to resemble his house in Damascus, after seeing that the name of the restaurant sums it up.
“It’s a kitchen … it’s my kitchen … and it’s my dining room. I like it that way,” he told CNN, adding, “Usually when you go to a Middle Eastern restaurant, you’re shrinking “A little bit of mosaic and wood, but that’s not what you find.” “In our homes,” he continued, “I did not want another traditional restaurant, I wanted a place that would make me feel at home, a more intimate place.”
When visiting the restaurant, visitors find pictures the rabbit has hung on the walls, some from Damascus and others from London with his family.
The rabbit had raised $ 68,300 in crowdfunding in the fall of 2020 to provide security for the rent, and he plans to re-offer that amount to the Choose Love association to support refugees in the UK by donating a pound . ($ 1.37). ) for each invoice paid.
Rabbit saw that “working with charities” is an addition to the profession and does not take it out of his way. “And things have always been that way. When I do something good, I know something good is waiting for me.”
During the summer months, “Imad Al-Suri Restaurant” witnessed a turnout from Londoners to enjoy his food, enjoy the pleasant atmosphere and talk to the rabbit about his cuisine.
Despite the harsh reality of restaurants as a result of obstructing the opening of their doors during full closure in the UK, due to the Corona virus, the rabbit took a risk after explaining that Corona affected rental prices, which fell, so. he took the risk and opened in 2021. He said, “I had to seize this opportunity Now, try my luck.”
Rabbit runs his own restaurant in London, as he once did with his restaurants in Syria. The main difference is that his kitchen is small in the Sohos area, which forced him to reduce his menu. But all his dishes are carefully prepared and the concept of his table is participatory, making the client feel at home.
Rabbit also modified some of his recipes to suit those who follow a vegan or starch-free diet, as “he found pleasure in this because he likes to add flavor to his dishes from other cultures,” adding that “is really interesting. to get to know other cuisines.” Creating common recipes, in terms of spices, new technology, flavor, or even the introduction of a new dish. “
However, the rabbit knows very well when not to tease the plate. He gives the example of falafel, which is known for its “simplicity of recipe”. “You should not confuse it with a traditional basic recipe if it is perfect,” he comments.
UK Refugee Policies
Rabbit expressed his happiness for the success of his Syrian restaurant, so that his family could stay close to him and the source of his greatest happiness, as he had to stay away from his family for a whole year before joined him in England, describing this stage is difficult.
“His wife and daughters are happier than ever, our relationship is stronger and my daughters are doing well in school,” Bunny said.
The recent Afghan crisis, along with the policies of British Home Secretary Priti Patel, aimed at preventing migrants from crossing the English Channel, have intensified talks about refugees in the UK in recent weeks.
Rabbit saw that some people look at refugees as if they come from “another planet, while they only have their own culture”, explaining: “They classify refugees as angels or demons. This is not true because we are human beings. “I did not choose to be a refugee. If the war in Syria had not happened, I would not have thought of leaving Damascus.”
Regarding the proposal of some European countries for the return of refugees to Syria, Rabbit said: “Before you say that Syria is safe and that you want to return people to it, ask us, we know more about Syria than anyone else. We “We still have friends and families there.”
As for UK policies for asylum seekers under Patel, Rabbit explained that she “does not reflect the London attitudes he knows, sees and celebrates every day in his restaurant. Patel does not represent London. People represent London … and people are wonderful. “