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Immigrant Chefs Are Sharing Meals And Their Stories

Courtesy of Wave Pool
Story-sharing packaging for the Welcome Table Boxes is designed by the Collective Action Studio.

Unable to invite people to regular "Welcome Table" meals because of coronavirus, Wave Pool in Camp Washington is extending its Welcome Project to the frozen foods aisle.

Where participants would usually gather for a community meal cooked by an immigrant or refugee chef and learn about that person and their culture, featured chefs will cook pre-made meals for purchase at Dean's Mediterranean in Findlay Market.

"The 'Welcome Table Boxes' are a way for us to share the stories and recipes of Cincinnati's immigrants and refugees," explains Cal Cullen, executive director of Wave Pool. Its Welcome Project supports immigrants and refugees through art, cooking classes, entrepreneurial courses and other measures.

The ready-to-heat frozen meal kits will come in packaging designed by artists from Collective Action Studio, featuring artwork and telling the chef's story.

"Each of the featured chefs is paid to create the featured dinner and cook the meal and share their story," Cullen says. "It's also a way for us to connect these stories and the diversity in our region to Cincinnati and bridge the divides and barriers that are present in our community."

Credit Courtesy of Wave Pool
The first chef, Azzezah Ali, is creating Iraqi biryani.

The first featured chef is Azzezah Ali, an Iraqi refugee, who is preparing an Iraqi vegetarian biryani, a rice and noodle dish with vegetables and raisins. Each $20 box contains 4-6 servings.

"Inside the packaging there's both her story as well as a prompt to share your own story and recipe to become part of this larger archive that the Collective Action Studio is accumulating."

Cullen says the first 50 boxes should be available by the end of the week. More servings may be commissioned depending on sales. A new chef will be invited in the coming weeks. Welcome Table Boxes will be available at Dean's Mediterranean and at The Welcome Project in Camp Washington.

Senior Editor and reporter at WVXU with more than 20 years experience in public radio; formerly news and public affairs producer with WMUB. Would really like to meet your dog.