Emad Al-Ranab boarded the “death boats” for London … and fulfilled his dream

He left Damascus and his memory carries his mother’s recipes that he applies today in “Imad Al-Suri Kitchen”.

Imad Al-Ranb is a Syrian chef who fled the war in his home country, Syria, after the bombings destroyed his restaurants, he had no hope but to leave and start the journey of fear and the unknown from Lebanon to the camp Calais. His dream was to reach London. He challenged death more than once as he was in the boat that threw Wave of Fear, but did not lose hope.

He waited in the refugee camp in France for 65 days, describing it as black days that are similar in color and bitterness, the bitterness of alienation, fate, the unknown and the pain of living in a mirage away from his family of consisting of wife and three daughters.

During the days of waiting and self-determination he wanted to become a useful refugee, so he started cooking simple meals for refugees like the one who is waiting for their fate just like him, he only had a bowl, a spoon and a knife, but he had in the pocket the traditional and simple recipes of his Syrian mother, who dreamed at a time when he was not He has the right to dream and lives as a prisoner of decisions and the destination in which he will end up for her. The last trip His dream was to arrive in London and open a “kitchen” in which he followed his mother’s recipes.

The dream finally came true and he arrived in London, the capital of hope in 2015. He worked in many fields, including selling cars, but did not give up his passion for cooking until he began collaborating with charities that support refugees in 2017. as UNICEF’s New Generation project and the Choose Love association to help refugees in the UK. As part of this collaboration, a chain of temporary restaurants, dinner clubs and falafel stalls was opened.

He became famous in the British capital and tickets to dinner clubs sold out at an unprecedented rate and people gathered in front of the falafel stalls he was preparing as his scent became on everyone’s lips.

His culinary skills made his fame precede him, as he directed the most important cooking programs broadcast on the official British channel. He introduced the world through his media views on Syrian cuisine, which he wanted to celebrate by opening a “kitchen” and no. a “restaurant” to commemorate his mother who died shortly after his arrival.For security in the UK.

The decor of the restaurant is simple and reminiscent of Syrian cafes

I have heard a lot about this “refugee” chef, as this adjective has been and still is attached to him. He opened his own restaurant, which he named “Imad’s Syrian Cuisine” on Karnaby Street in Soho in May 2021, challenging the pandemic and closing His success story to visit at his favorite restaurant call the kitchen, I was greeted by the voice of Fayrouz, who resounded in his calm tones, at the restaurant located on the top floor of the “Kingley Court” building. In London, it takes you to Syrian home gardens and the “glass café” in Beirut, simple wooden chairs and wide windows that penetrate the scary London sun, tiles with a distinctive oriental arabesque pattern, and white ornate walls. with family photos of Chief Imad, his wife and three daughters.

At the beginning of the conversation, in which his arrival in London as a refugee was to be emphasized, Chief Emad replied: “The refugees are not from another planet, but are (children of one world).” Indeed, he is right to mention this, because when the media in Europe talk about refugees, they feel like they are from another galaxy, so we forget that they are human beings and had their homes and lives, but circumstances pushed them . to flee in search of peace, tranquility and peace.

The rabbit’s passion for cooking is evident and his love for London, the reason, he says, is the language. Because he believes that living in a country that understands his language is easy and upon arriving at the refugee camp in Calais, he dreamed that he could live and settle in London, and not in Germany because of the language.

He described the days he lived in Calais as very difficult because he would wake up alone, not knowing what the day would bring. He was patient and hoped well until he managed to reach London, which he describes as his safe home after losing everything in his place.

His love and pride for his little family members is also evident from the way he speaks. The smile does not leave his face when he refers to his daughters in the photos hanging on the wall, describing their intelligence and superiority at school. “My most important achievement in my life is my family and the day I was reunited in London after a long absence,” he said.

And when the beautiful smells started coming out of the kitchen in preparation for the arrival of customers at midnight, it was time to talk about the dishes that chef Emad served in his kitchen.All the recipes from his mother who taught him to cook and much. other things. He stopped here and said, “My mother died after I got here, as if she were waiting for her heart to soothe her firstborn son.”

Imad’s cooking is short and useful and he describes them as home cooking. Because in this country he feels like he is at his home in Damascus, so he used many words like blue and wooden windows to always remind him of the place he came from.

As for Middle East food in London, Chief Imad believes the restaurants available here did not do justice to Lebanese or Oriental cuisine in general; Because he was not able to offer what you can eat in Lebanon or any other Arab country that is famous for its delicious cuisine. In his kitchen, the rabbit seeks to use Syrian products that he brings from stores in London that imported from abroad or directly. from Syria.

What stands out in the menu of “Imad Al-Suri Kitchen” is the lack of traditional levantine dishes such as grills, but rather a dish of grilled cauliflower with tahini sauce and chicken with bulgur, and emphasized the lamb he prefers in gatim. and the common feature of all dishes is that they are delicious and simple, at the same time the chef does not use strong flavorings like garlic or spices, but what should be enjoyed in his kitchen is the falafel dish, which does not resemble nothing. other on it; Because he became famous in London because of this, and it is the key to goodness and blessing for him.

Rabbit believes that “working with charities is an addition to the profession and does not take it out of its way”. This is his personal conviction in which he believes; Therefore, he decided to provide a pound from the value of each bill that goes to help refugees at the institutions he supports and that supported his trip to London.

And for his challenge during the pandemic and the choice of the most difficult circumstances to open his restaurant, Rabbit said the situation was convenient because during that period it was possible to rent at low prices, so he took the opportunity and fulfilled his dream. in his small kitchen, which he intends to make larger in order to serve with traditional Shami breakfast tunes In addition to lunch and dinner, Fayrouz currently welcomes his customers from 12:30 to 20:30 and participation in the country is very clear; It is fully reserved for all hours of the day and the chef himself welcomes all customers, mostly from the west and here he says: “I am very grateful to this country and its people; “Government decisions regarding immigration and refugee law do not represent the people and their humanity.” He continued, “His clients come to him after reading about the place and this issue distinguishes them from Arab clients who visit new restaurants after hearing about them from friends and relatives.”

When we talked about the identity of oriental product and Arabic dishes, the rabbit strongly defended this issue because he believes that food is a national heritage that can not be manipulated, and he attracted many foreign chefs from using thyme in recipes that have nothing to do. with thyme. Please leave the thyme as it is or put it in its proper place, otherwise it leaves it to us ”.

Falafel in the rabbit’s opinion is older than some cities and his recipe should not be confused at all, and he goes on to say that he is trying hard to make clients feel like they are in Syria and not London through the application of the Syrian language. generosity in the restaurant, as do chefs and restaurant owners in the Levant, and is also important. Focus on taste and quality, not just presentation style, noting that he is not a supporter of restaurants that only emphasize form. of the dish and not of the taste, and for the aroma, he said, the ability to get it the same way every time is the secret of success.

We were drawn to the kitchen by the presence of different nationalities, so the rabbit commented on the topic saying that he works with him in the kitchen about 13 people of different nationalities, most of whom are of refugee origin from different countries, including Peru. , Syria, Algeria and Sri Lanka … The rabbit commented here, “This is the least I can do to prove that the refugee is a normal human being who has the right to live and work in peace like other human beings. . “

The spices and products that Chef Imad prefers to use are cumin, garlic and dried mint. He said that the cuisine of the Middle East is not complicated, but its distinguishing feature is the simplicity, it is enough to mix good quality olive oil with a little. chili pepper to make the most delicious food with a piece of fresh bread. Good nutrition depends on a good product. According to Rabbit, Middle Eastern cuisine relies on technology, not equipment; Because you can serve the most delicious oriental dish if you have the product and the sharp knife.

The conversation with chef Imad Al-Ranb is interesting and simple, similar to his kitchen, which was packed with customers during our conversation, which took us to the Syrian Riyadh and the beautiful Levantine houses and took us to family atmosphere, the good. the meal and the love of the mother, who was a teacher for Chief Imad, how she taught him everything while living with him in this country and feels as if he accompanies him on his journey filled with hardship, fear and horror from the specter of emigration and asylum , but the end was happy; Because Imad Al-Ranb is today one of the most famous refugees offering something in exchange for the city that embraced him, which opened up opportunities for him and made his family happy, safe and secure.

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