As governments around the world continue to drag their feet resettling refugees fleeing the Syrian conflict — and the country is bombarded with airstrikes and chemical weapon attacks — it falls once more to the non-political professions to show the government where the hands go on the humanitarian clock. This time, it's hospitality's turn.
On June 18, UNICEF Australia will once again partner with some of the country's best chefs for a charity dinner celebrating Syria's strong culinary traditions. The dinner is part of month-long nationwide fundraising campaign called #CookForSyria, with money raised going to UNICEF Australia's Syria Crisis Appeal for Children.
Three Blue Ducks in Rosebery will host the posse of gastronomers as they prepare a banquet comprising their signature dishes with a Syrian flourishes. Saint Peter's Julie and Josh Niland will serve up a smoked eel and beetroot jam doughnut with moutabbal (smoked eggplant dip), Palisa Anderson from Chat Thai will prepare pork sausages with nahm prik chilli relish and Kylie Kwong will serve up her famed saltbush cakes, prepared on the night with Syrian spices.
Tickets are a steep $280 per person — but, remember, it's going to a good cause — and include canapés, cocktails on arrival and a shared Syrian-inspired feast and wines.
It may seem on the surface like you're paying for the food, but 20 professional chefs jammed into a single kitchen also suggests a night of great theatre. Momofuku Seiobo's Paul Carmichael, Firedoor's Lennox Hastie and Africola's Duncan Welgemoed will be in the fray, with Monty Koludrovic (Icebergs, Bondi Beach Public Bar) and Andy Bowdy (Saga) contending for next use of the colander with equal ferocity.
While the top guns will have their turn on June 18, UNICEF Australia is encouraging anyone with passing knowledge of an oven to contribute, too. Restaurants and cafes can produce a limited edition Syrian versions of favourite dish, donating $5 from each one sold to the charity. For those who deal in culinary delight on a slightly smaller scale, bake sales are your recommended course. While you're waiting for the oven to pre-heat, you can read more and register here.
To reserve your spot at the one-off dinner, make a reservation via the Three Blue Ducks website.
Images: Nikki To