The Irish Refugee Food Festival comes to life this June, as Dublin’s Michelin starred ‘Heron & Grey’ and Drogheda’s ‘Eastern Seaboard’ open their doors to chefs and bakers with refugee status, or refugee applications under consideration.

The Festival is part of a series of events UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is organising with partners from Kai Restaurant, Galway, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin and Lisa Regan PR to mark World Refugee Day on 20th June.

In total, 16 restaurants and food businesses across Ireland will welcome new chefs in to their kitchens to showcase their skills and share their culinary heritage in a series of events culminating in welcome dinners on World Refugee Day in St Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin and Kinsale Road Direct Provision Centre, Cork.

Despite the difficult and tragic circumstances in which people flee, we should not forget that refugees bring skills and talents to their new homes” said Enda O’Neill, Head of Office with UNHCR Ireland. “With their right to work set to be introduced for asylum-seekers, the Refugee Food Festival aims to connect people with employers that are eager for their experience and knowhow.”

Over 270 refugees and asylum-seekers are invited to a welcome dinner for refugees in St Patrick’s Cathedral on 20 June. Meanwhile, chef Jess Murphy of Kai Restaurant will cook alongside five residents of Kinsale Road Direct Provision Centre on the same date. Kinsale Road is one of the first direct provision centres in Ireland to introduce self-catering, one of the key recommendations of the 2015 McMahon report.

According to Murphy, Irish restaurants need 7,000 staff, many of whom may be in Ireland’s new communities:

This month we are all showing through our kitchens how much we need people in there working. There is a massive chef shortage in Ireland and by having our peers from other countries in working, prepping and cooking food, we are filling positions where there is a real shortage of skilled staff. On top of this we are all learning from each other, experiencing real food culture in the kitchen. That is only going to benefit us all. This is happening in 16 locations across Ireland, and it is a very positive thing.”

The following restaurants and food business will participate in the refugee food festival: Eastern Seaboard, Drogheda; Heron & Grey, Dublin; 3fe, Dublin; Five Points, Dublin; Cloud Picker Coffee in The Science Gallery, Dublin; Seasons, Guinness Storehouse, Dublin; Bean and Goose, Ferns; Loam, Galway; Kai, Galway; Miyazaki, Cork; The Tannery, Dungarvan; Dela, Galway; Café Rua, Castlebar; Pudding Row, Easkey;Shell’s, Sligo; Sheridan’s Cheesemongers, Dublin and Galway; and FoodSpace operated restaurants and cafes, nationwide.

For all information of what’s happening in each restaurant, check out their social media channels or search the hashtag #OpenTheDoorIreland.



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