Connecting through cooking

Hamed Allahyari and sous-chef Farhad Akhbari with the class. (Damjan Janevski) 396045_01

Author and head chef at SalamaTea social enterprise cafe, Hamed Allahyari dropped into the Fraser Rise Children’s and Community Centre on Thursday, March 21 for a free cooking class as a part of Melton Council’s Cultural Diversity Week celebrations.

Mr Allahyari fled Iran for Australia in 2012, and after experiencing first-hand the difficulties of finding work in a new country, opened the SalamaTea Cafe in Sunshine.

It operates as a space to give people from refugee backgrounds the opportunity to build skills in the hospitality industry, while serving delicious food to the community.

Mr Allahyari said since opening in 2019 SalamaTea has had more than 50 people from refugee backgrounds through its doors – with many going on to find further work in the industry.

“I’ve felt it myself so I understand how precious that feeling is,” he said.

“It’s a very good feeling – watching them grow confidence working with me and making them feel a part of the community.”

The cooking class at Fraser Rise took about 20 attendees through the steps of producing eight courses of Middle Eastern delicacies including dadami dip, zaatar bread, dolma and falafel, fesenjoon and baklava.

Mr Allahyari said he loved providing the experience to the community.

“The cooking class is the best way to connect with people – sharing my culture through food,” he said.

“Many hadn’t tried this food before but they told me they loved it. It’s fun for me.”

In mid April Mr Allahyari will also open a second social enterprise restaurant in Sunshine, Kababi, which he said will be focused on “nostalgic food that shows how they were serving food in Iran in years gone by”.

“Come try the food, enjoy the vibe, and get involved in supporting,” he said.

Details: @salamateahouse on Instagram