Supper Club hosting refugee cooks

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Local group Waterloo Listens is partnering with Welcome Neighbor STL to put together a dinner featuring food from Afghan refugees.

The dinner will take place at 6 p.m. Saturday, June 25, at St. Paul United Church of Christ in Waterloo. Tickets cost $30 and reservations are encouraged by June 18.

The event is part of Welcome Neighbor STL’s Supper Club program, which highlights refugee families in St. Louis. Proceeds from the event support the cooks who will be speaking and sharing their stories. Guests are asked to respect their privacy and avoid taking pictures.

Amanda Chase of Waterloo Listens says the group “seeks to amplify voices of sometimes marginalized people, including refugees.”

Chase is a coordinator for the event, and she says the program fits well with Waterloo Listens’ ideals.

“We thought we could just participate in this one little thing that Welcome Neighbor does in supporting the new refugee cooks catering businesses and invite those cooks to share their stories as refugees and share their culture,” Chase said.

The meal will include a variety of traditional foods from Afghanistan, including lola kebbab, Afghan dumplings called mantu and a fried sweet pastry known as gosh e-fil or “elephant’s ear.” Attendees can also specify that they’d like to make their meal vegetarian when they sign up.

For Chase and others putting together this event, the meal is only going to be part of the evening.

“It’s going be a spectacular feast of the eyes and the senses,” Chase said, “but more than that, we’re getting to experience this food from across the globe from a chef who has a very special and unique story.”

Chase said the collaboration was largely inspired by Dawn Schulte, a friend and fellow member of Waterloo Listens who also regularly volunteers with Welcome Neighbor STL.

Schulte talked about her positive experiences working with a variety of refugee families in St. Louis. She said she thinks bringing people together to meet a refugee in person can bring a better understanding of the need for compassion, education and action.

“I think that the more opportunities we have to educate people that aren’t necessarily plugged into the issue, the better,” Schulte said. “Anytime that we can get a crowd together for the sake of food and community, I think that it’s to our benefit to do that.”

Jillian Mayer, Director of Children and Youth Ministries at St. Paul UCC, is one of the individuals at the church helping to put the event together.

She said that, given St. Paul’s emphasis on outreach and its love of gathering around food, hosting the event was a natural fit for the church.

“I feel like it was a no-brainer for our church to take the opportunity to help people and kind of spread good will to people in our community and then people outside of our community,” Mayer said.

The upcoming dinner is currently the only one planned, but Mayer said the church would be willing to host more in the future. Chase said she’d like to put together more dinners, given Welcome Neighbor STL’s work with a number of refugees from a variety of backgrounds.

“There’s several different menus,” Chase said. “It’d be beautiful to be able to continue to bring new culture and experiences like this to Waterloo.”

To register for this event, click here.

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