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The catering company powered by refugees and their recipes

TJI Pick
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Published: 2 July 2019

Last updated: 4 March 2024

Can artisan food change a refugee’s life? New York chef Hannah Goldberg thinks so, and has launched a “refugee-powered” catering and events company

“I WENT TO CHURCH dinners as a volunteer, and it was usually piles of rice or macaroni,” Hannah Goldberg says. “I thought we could represent the traditions of these immigrants in a finer way.”

Her catering company Tanabel - Arabic for “lazy person” - was the result. A business rather than a non-profit, the company employs immigrant women “at a living wage” to highlight their cuisines. Most of Goldberg’s cooks come from Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, or Iran; she works with them one at a time, building a dinner event around their own food tradition.

At a dinner in April, an ex-Tehrani named Nasreen cooked alongside Goldberg. “We made boz ghorme, a stew with baby green almonds and fresh grape leaves. We made an ancient dish with goat that you braise forever, pound with walnuts and saffron, and eat scooped with flatbread,” Goldberg said. “The refugee’s relatives were shocked that Americans were eating it.”

With her Cordon Bleu education and Michelin-starred kitchen experience, Goldberg also insists on “fine-dining-level” food. “We go over the top,” Goldberg laughed. “I don’t have enough boundaries. So there are dozens of dishes.

FULL STORY Meet the woman who started a ‘refugee-powered’ catering company (Forward)

Photo: Tanabel Table’s first cook Fayza Maamo, her mother Fadila and Tanabel founder Hannah Goldberg

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