Meet the Migrateful Chefs!
We’re proud to have chefs from over 25 different countries in the Migrateful family, each bringing unique skills, knowledge and recipes.
Knowledge and passion from around the world.
Scroll down to find out a bit more about our chefs, including their food, culture and the stories that brought them to the UK. We work with refugees, migrants, and asylum seekers from all around the world, and they are all waiting to teach you their delicious international cuisines in fun, easy and engaging cookery classes.
My name is Deshira, and I come from Albania which is located in the South-East of Europe. Albanian cuisine is representative of the Mediterranean diet, based on the importance of olive oil, fruits, vegetables and fish. I started cooking when I was nine years old because my mother got sick and spent three months in hospital. So, I was “on duty” taking care of my little brother and dad. I remember the first dish I made was my favourite Albanian dish called “byrek,” made with lots of pastry filled with mince, cheese, or spinach. I was brought up in a culture where sharing a meal is a very important way of connecting with others and integrating in the society. With all the problems I’m experiencing with the Home Office my passion for cooking is an amazing way to stay positive through it all.
Hello I’m Aklima Aktar, I’m from Bangladesh. I have a great passion for authentic cooking using fresh exotic blends of spices. I have years of experience in delivering food to suit all taste buds. I can cook from traditional clay pan to ceramic pan. If you are a food lover and want to go that extra mile to experience hands on cooking authentic traditional Bangladeshi food be sure to book a session with me and I promise you will not be disappointed.
My name is Leonor and I am from Ecuador. I came to London seven years ago. All my friends and family know me for being a wonderful cook. I am a kind and hard working person and I enjoy meeting new people and experiencing new things. I love Ecuadorian food.
Migrateful is a very important way for me to build my confidence. My heart beats very fast every time someone speaks English to me in the street. This is why Migrateful is so important, because it’s a chance for me to get over my fear of speaking English. Leading a cookery class feels like a real challenge because of having to be able to communicate in English – but I am excited about this challenge and excited to teach my Ecuadorian recipes.
Hi I’m Cristina. I’m from the province of Bulacan which is close to Manila in The Philippines. I love to cook. My favourite thing to make is Inangit, sticky rice with coconut milk. This was my mother’s favourite dish and she passed it down to me. I’m the eldest of 4 and my mother taught how to cook perfect rice when I was 7 so that I could cook for my siblings when she went to work. I’m excited to share Filipino food with people in this country. Teaching a class and sharing my food and my culture with new people fills me with joy and brings back so many happy memories of the home I had to leave behind.
My name is Parastoo. I am from Iran. I grew up in the capital city Tehran, which is a very noisy and crowded city. When I think about Tehran I think of streets full of pastry shops filled with different types of savoury sweets, which is beautifully designed in a shiny see through containers. The creamy pistachio cakes are the most popular cones that people approach to first. In Iran food is very important, not only what we eat but the quality of what we eat is actually important. It’s a way to connect and socialise with each other. You could even find people in debt who choose to spend money on good food. Iranian food is very colourful and takes attention and time to prepare. Personally I love cooking because I think its a way to express my creativity, I grew up eating my mum’s food who is very creative and bold with her cooking. I feel proud when people ask my mum to cook for big celebrations, because they know she can manage to prepare the traditional and delicious dishes.
My name is Elizabeth, I’m a mother of three from the Western part of Nigeria and I love cooking. My passion for cooking started from when I was a young girl and carried all the way to boarding school and then at university until I got married. I was always finding excuses to rustle up something in the kitchen! From baking little treats to handling large cookings for family parties, I have found myself constantly cooking for friends and family. I have had years of volunteering at a weekly soup kitchen in the heart of Tottenham and much recently at Hackney Migrant Center. This passion brought me to Migrateful and the experience has been awesome. Not only do I get to learn various types of dishes but I also get to meet people from so many parts of the world! For someone who doesn’t travel around much like me, that’s the best part! I get to sneak a peek into all these countries… an absolute pleasure! Sharing my love for food is a really great way to feel a connexion with my roots, seeing the pleasure on people’s faces when they eat my food is the icing on top of the cake!
Hello I’m Anastasia from the Ukraine. I grew up in a place called Kherson in the South of Ukraine. The Russians invested a lot of money in my city because it’s on the border with Turkey next to the sea and has very fertile land so strategically it’s a very important place. My food is very rich and heart warming – if you like Turkish food you’ll love my food because there’s a strong Turkish influence. Because my region is so fertile we cook with lots of dairy, vegetables and fish.
When I was little I always loved to watch my mother cooking – I liked to help her cook and that’s how I learnt. We had a very communal household – everyone in Ukraine cooks. You’re told that if you don’t know how to cook you will never find a husband!
When I was at university, Ukraine wanted independence and that’s when the conflict with Russia started. The economy in Ukraine plummeted and all my family started to migrate. My sister went to Australia with my parents but I wasn’t allowed there, my visa was rejected. So I went to Russia. But because I had a Ukrainian accent and passport, people were very hostile to me, it was hard to get work. I came to the UK in 1999 and settled here.
I find London a lonely place. People are often hostile to me because I’m from Eastern Europe. People often know nothing about Ukraine. It means I’ve started to keep myself to myself and that has made me lonely. So Migrateful is a way to meet open minded people who share the same values as me. I’m so excited to talk to my class participants about my culture. It makes me feel very free. It’s a platform where I can really be myself and get my identity back. Here people are actually interested in me and my culture, it’s so lovey. Finally I feel like somebody.
I am Kashi, from Tanzania East Africa. I love to cook and learn new recipes from all over the world. I learn to cook from very young age as is our traditional and most of the kitchen works done by girls and women in the household. I came to England 12 years ago, food was different from my country so my passion of cooking getting even bigger, I love to cook my swahili cuisines with the twist to make healthy food as I believe food is medicine. I love to use fresh ingredient and spices in my food and do everything from the scratch.
Hi! I’m Nafa. I am from the middle of Sri Lanka from a city called Kurunegala. We have three ethnicities in my city: Tamal, Singalese and Muslim. We all live together in this city and share 90% of the same food. My dad owned a restaurant in my city. So from the age of 10, I cooked together with my family for the guests. Everything was homemade. We never bought curry powder from the shop. We made it from scratch. It was a restaurant for locals. My father was a very good cook. From a very young age I watched my father cooking and that’s how I learnt.
I love cooking Sri Lankan food. Sri Lankan cuisine has been shaped by many historical and cultural factors. Contact with foreign traders who brought new food items, cultural influences from neighbouring countries as well as the local traditions of the country’s ethnic groups have all helped shape Sri Lankan cuisine. Influences from Indian (particularly South Indian), Indonesian and Dutch cuisines are particularly evident.
Hi, I’m Meral and I’m from Turkey, which is the cradle of many ancient civilisations. It is a country that consists of seven idyllic regions. Geographically diverse, it can be winter in one region whilst it is summer in another. Luckily, I have had the chance to live in different areas of the country, so I have an enormous repertoire of food that appeals to all palates.
While I was working as a Food Engineer in Turkey, I saw many poor food hygiene practices in the food industry, so I decided to make healthy and natural food for my children. I have realised that I like bringing science and food together like an alchemist. I make all my yoghurt, cheese, pickle, kefir and sausage at home myself.
I had to move to the UK with my husband and three children, because of political problems in Turkey. I have been here for three years.
Because of the current president of Turkey, the freedom of our country has been reduced. I can no longer travel to Turkey, but I will take you there to taste the best dishes because I’ll be cooking them with you.
Hi, I’m Yogi and I’m from Sri Lanka.
I arrived to the UK 12 years ago and I didn’t even know how to make a cup of tea! I depended on my friends to cook for me. So alone in the UK, I had to learn from scratch. My teacher was my mother who instructed me over the phone. Gradually, I learnt to recreate the tastes and smells of home. Now I cook for neighbours and friends and I’m very popular – they love my tasty, spicy curries. I particularly like hot chillies, so when you cook along with me, you might want to reduce the number of chillies! I can’t wait to cook for them. In the meantime, I’m very excited to share my Sri Lankan recipes with you
Hi, my name is Zeenat, I was born in Ghana, but have Nigerian heritage. My grandparents were traders that were moving back and forth selling clothes and rare foods like cashews, coffee and other delights from Nigeria to Ghana and back again.
I love cooking and have been cooking from a very young age. I was taught by my grandparents and my mother, I enjoy it, no matter how busy I am, I always make the time for home cooking. I have also had the opportunity to cook big feasts during Ramadan and Eid to feed families and particularly for people that are living destitute on the streets.
Nigerian and Ghanaian food is very similar, there are lots of similar dishes but they are cooked in different ways. For instance Nigerian fufu tends to be made with yam, whereas in Ghana it is usually made with plantain and cassava.
I’m looking forward to sharing some of my stories with you alongside as we cook up some delicious West African food in my class.
I am Lola and I am from Cuba. I like to make people laugh. I often can’t find the words in English, but I find a theatrical way to express myself especially when I’m teaching my recipes. I am passionate about Cuban food and I like teaching. I’m happy to speak Spanish in my classes and also teach some Cuban salsa moves. In Cuba I was a vet working with farm animals. I came to the UK 12 years ago to live with my daughter and her son. I only speak Spanish at home so I’ve never managed to learn English which feels very isolating when you live in a country where you can’t speak the language. I’m 72 years old, and I’ve decided I’m determined to try to learn English. Migrateful is helping me to do that because I get to practice English with my cookery students. I came from a very poor family in Cuba so I really value every meal I eat. One of my favourite dishes to teach is called “Congrí” which has black beans and white rice. This dish is about celebrating diversity in Cuba, when white and black people mix together.
Hello, my name is Helen Goitom. I am from Eritrea. I was brought up in a city called Asmara – the capital city of Eritrea. My mother taught me to cook when I was 12 years old. I have 6 brothers and 2 sisters. My brothers never cooked, only me and my sisters. I have been in the UK for 1 year and 5 months. I got my refugee status last year, age 28.
In 2014 I was forced to join the army in Eritrea. Everyone in my country had to join. Only my father couldn’t join because he was ill. After 3 years of being in the army I wanted to leave the army because it was very dangerous and scary, I didn’t like it. Often there was not enough food and water for the soldiers, there was never any rest, every day working and no rest. My father was very sick so I asked to go visit him in hospital. They wouldn’t let me. I escaped to see my father. The authorities went to the hospital and put me in prison. I spent 6 months in prison. Then my aunt’s son paid someone to help me escape.
I went to Sudan, then Turkey, the Greece, then Italy, Belgium. In Belgium 12 of us snuck into the back of a lorry, the driver was asleep, he didn’t notice us. And the lorry got to the UK.
I am happy here in London. People help me. There are so many amazing services. When I’m ill I can get medicine. In Eritrea there was no medicine. There were no good schools. I feel very grateful to be here. My friends who I met in the lorry I am very good friends with still, they are like family to me.
My name is Awa. I’m from Gambia. My journey with food started with my mum who taught me everything she knows about food. It is a big tradition in my culture to follow our family legacy. We start cooking when we are very young. Our dishes are very flavourful and tasty, such as benachin (jollof rice) and chicken yassa (fried chicken with onions). We also have a lot of fish and seafood dishes. When I am cooking I feel very happy.
Since I got my refugee status in the UK I have found my love for food a great way to get me into work and connect with others.
My name is Ahmad and I’m from Lebanon. I was shot by two bullets while I was working as a paramedic for the Lebanese Red Cross 10 years ago, so now I’m in a wheelchair. My hobbies include wheelchair basketball, swimming and cooking. I gain so much pleasure from cooking, I love the smell of freshly prepared food – especially when it contains garlic and coriander! Since Lebanon is located in the heart of the Middle East by the Mediterranean sea, its food combines the tastes and traditions of several civilisations and Arab cuisines.
My name is Noor. I am from Lahore in Pakistan. I arrived to the UK in 2015 and I am still waiting for my asylum claim to be accepted. Lahore is famous for its food – everyone is obsessed with it. You will find food at any time of day or night. There are so many different dishes! I love cooking. My mum always cooked us many different dishes when I was growing up. She let me cook for the family at weekends and that is how I learned how to cook. Pakistani dishes are known for having aromatic and sometimes spicy flavours. Brown cardamom, green cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, mace, and black pepper are the most commonly used spices in the making of a wide variety of dishes.
My name is Lina from Syria, mother of three children, I came to the UK as a refugee in 2017 to escape the war in my country to protect my children and secure them a better future. From childhood I loved craftwork, I learned painting, sewing and knitting wool.
I learned the art of cooking from the age of fourteen. I was standing next to my grandmother and my mother and noticing how they cook, and then, as I helped my mother with the cooking, it became my favourite hobby. I spend endless hours cooking. I love it. I am obsessed with the smell of delicious food. If you know anything about Syrian food you know you are in for a treat.
I grew up in the capital of Ghana called Accra with my Auntie who taught me how to cook. Life was difficult, but the cooking and food has always been important to me. In Ghanian food we always cook with pepper, onions, garlic, stock and lots of love. And this food reminds me of the people of Ghana who I miss dearly. I moved to the UK when I was 28, and now I am studying online at Bedford College ‘dignity and safeguard in adult social care’ and living with my little girl, Nana who loves to eat my food. I can’t wait to share it with all of you!
My name is Urmila Nagarkoti. I’m from Nepal. I grew up in a very small beautiful mountain village called Dahapokhari close to Kathmandu. Some people from my village are very wealthy and others are very poor. I come from a very poor family. We often struggled to have enough food and cloths to wear. Even though we had nothing we were very happy. We didn’t have enough money to go anywhere so we just stayed in our village. When I was older I went to the capital city of Kathmandu to look for work. I got a job and managed to save money to give to my family. They were so happy. First I went to Bahrain then I arrived in London. I have a working permit here. I want to earn money to send back to my family in Nepal. I really love London. I love cooking. I learnt how to cook from my mother, she is an incredible cook. What is difficult is not being able to speak English. But I am a fast learner, already my English is a lot better. My favourite food is potato, chickpeas and coriander curry. Cooking is my passion.
I really miss my family and I also feel the pressure to earn money for them. I am lucky to be here. But it’s hard.
I am Amani, an Arab from Aleppo, Syria. I am 26 years old. I live with my mother and my younger sisters. I left Syria in 2013 when I lost my father and brother in the war and we fled to Lebanon and stayed there for six years, which were hard and difficult years. I worked there more than one job and studied, and then we applied to travel to the United Kingdom and it was approved after many years of waiting.
When I came to the UK, I started to learn the English language. I started out like a butterfly- I was locked up and then saw freedom. Then I got a job with Kent Refugees Action Network and I used to help them with cooking sometimes. One day I cooked with my mother and some students for about 60 people, and this was my first step in my dream of being a great chef.
I love writing and I would like to publish a special book in my name and tell about what I have suffered from the war. I love cooking because I see cooking is the path to kindness and love, for food is a language that no one can hear except generous people. My teacher proposed this institution to teach cooking and I agreed to join. I am happy and grateful for my joining Migrateful because I can now see my dream clearly with them.
Hi everyone, my name is Zineb and I am from Morocco which is situated in North Africa. I inherited my great passion for cooking from my mother. I was always fascinated by her creativity. Moroccan food has consistently been ranked in the lead for being one of the best cuisines. In Morocco we have an abundance of spice, vegetables and fish that reflect on the huge repertoire of dishes we have, from couscous to tagines. It was alien for us to buy ready-made food; anything and everything was made at home. My mother pickled her own olives and it was such fun as we would all help out. She made her own bread and biscuits and dishes were all made according to the seasons.
For me, cooking is therapy, a form of art and love! I always enjoyed mealtime as it was filled with many debates, discussions and laughter around a colourful table. This sadly is starting to disappear but I try hard to maintain it within my own family (if I manage to get them to put their phones down 🙈😂)
Hello, I’m Momo,
I’m the eldest son of a Palestinian father and a Syrian mother, I have six siblings who I love dearly. We grew up as Palestinian refugees in Daraa, a lovely city in southern Syria, which is also where the revolution started.
I later studied veterinary medicine in Hama city but unfortunately had to flee Syria right after I graduated. First I had to cross illegally to Turkey; it was one of the hardest experiences I’ve ever had to face, especially as I was alone, and at one point I thought it was the end. Surviving and successfully crossing gave me faith and a confidence in myself I didn’t realise that I had!
I went on to live in Istanbul, Turkey for three years until I finally came to the UK in mid 2019 through the UNHCR resettlement scheme.
After losing my father, my ambition became following in his footsteps and continuing some of his unfinished dreams, that’s why I’m working on establishing a Syrian cheese making business; just like the enterprise that he had when I was still in Syria.
I’ve always loved cooking ever since I was young. I used to experiment in the kitchen ever since I can remember. I’m always interested in exploring new flavours and trying new recipes. I believe that cooking is caring, dedicating your time and effort in making an enjoyable meal for your loved ones comes from the heart. I genuinely express my feelings and love through cooking. If you’re my friend, then you know I’ll have prepared something delicious for you every time we meet.
Hello everyone! My name is Razieh, and I am a chef from Iran.
My journey with food began when I was a child in my family kitchen with my mum. She was from the Turkish side of Iran, where women are famous for being excellent cooks and bakers. She taught me all her skills and I began to bake cakes for special events in my country when I was just 7.
I learnt to take great care and pride in my food; we particularly love using fresh fragrant herbs to perfumes in our dishes. Persian Food is very aromatic and evocative; saffron, rose water and fresh barberries are staples in our cuisine and we love to make our dishes look as beautiful as they taste. When we gathered together to eat there was always an element of friendly competition to see who had created the best garnish!
When I came to the UK, I stopped hosting big events as I lost my confidence and found the language barrier difficult. Working with Migrateful has meant that my confidence has returned and now I can’t wait to share with you all the knowledge of the traditional Persian kitchen that I have carried with me on my journey.
Hello! My name is Nahida and I’m from Bangladesh! I was brought up surrounded by Bengali cooking, which explores so many amazing flavours and so many exotic spices. Migrateful has given me the chance to meet people outside the Bengali community and to share my love of cooking.
I’m so happy teaching my recipes in Migrateful classes. Each class is different and I love spending time with people from a variety of backgrounds. It has made me proud to see them enjoying my food. Now I feel respected as a chef. Migrateful has given me the confidence and help to start my own catering company.
Hello everyone! My name is Dan Hong Zheng. You can call me Denise if you like. l come from the South sea of China. My home town is very close to Taiwan. In my family, both my grandma and my father were great chefs. They taught me to cook when I was very young. I prefer seafood and all kinds of vegetables as my cooking ingredients of choice.
I submitted an asylum claim here in the UK in 2001, 19 years later I’m still waiting to get my refugee status. I am so happy that Migrateful has given me the chance to teach my traditional Chinese food.
My name is Woin. I was born and raised in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and moved to London in the early 90s. I enjoy cooking and eating in the company of friends and family whilst being part of the diverse community which London offers. London provides the opportunity to learn and explore many other cultures and cuisines.
Joining Migrateful has been such a privilege, thanks to the guidance and support it provides, offering women and men the chance to further develop and create opportunities to learn and engage. My involvement with Migrateful has enabled me to follow my passion and encouraged me to set up my own vegan catering business.
My name is Elahe and I am from Iran. Not being able to communicate was one of the biggest barriers I faced when I arrived to the UK. I was introduced to Jess through my dear daughter Parastoo and since then I have become very engaged and eager to dedicate myself to Migrateful. It has helped me to improve my confidence and self-esteem and to believe in my capabilities. I am cooking with love and passion again like in the old days. Food is a very special thing to me – I remember as a child waking up to the smell of my grandmother’s cooking and it’s beautiful aromas as she added the ingredients in the early mornings. I would like to thank Migrateful for offering me this great opportunity to make friends, use my talents and to succeed. It is hard not to love Iranian food. Typical Iranian main dishes are combinations of rice with meat (such as lamb, chicken, or fish), vegetables (such as onions and various herbs), and nuts. Fresh green herbs are frequently used, along with fruits such as plums, pomegranate, quince, prunes, apricots, and raisins. Characteristic Iranian flavourings such as saffron, dried lime, cinnamon, and parsley are mixed and used in special dishes.
My name is Betty. I was born in Nigeria. I came to London when I was 16. It wasn’t easy coming to a new country on my own, but I had to grow up fast. I don’t like to call myself a victim. I am a survivor. The thing I found most difficult when I first came to London was realising for the first time that I was different and that people looked at me differently here. I felt very alone. The first Christmas was the most lonely. I missed my family, especially my dad. I love to cook and I love to eat not just any food but good food. I feel alive when I see others enjoying my cooking. It is a form of therapy for me, I like to get my hands into something and cooking is the best way I can do that.
Nigerian cuisine has so many different dishes. We have lots of different tribes in Nigeria and different cultures and languages and so everyone has their own way of cooking. We celebrate every occasion with food – it’s a huge part of our culture. Cooking is something that Nigerian families always do together and recipes are passed on through generations. Sharing food with friends and family is really important to me and this is why I love Migrateful.
Joining Migrateful is one of the most rewarding things I have done for a long time. I never thought I could ever have the confidence to cook in front of other people that weren’t my family. It’s great to meet other chefs that are in a similar situation to me, also experiencing the difficulty of the immigration process. I can be myself in this group and I really appreciate it.
Hi I’m Edite from Angola, a country located in the South-West of Africa. I grew up in a very beautiful city called “Malanje”. There are beautiful waterfalls there. People love socialising in Angola – we love to meet up and eat, drink and dance. Cemba and Kizomba are our traditional dances which you dance as a couple. It’s a very elegant and friendly dance. In Angola the national language is still Portuguese so our culture has been influenced a lot by them, especially our food. Our food is very rich, colourful and diverse. We have so many different types of fruit and vegetables in Angola.
My grandmother taught me to cook when I was very young. She passed away when I was 12 but I always remember the dishes she taught me. I was feeling very isolated living in the UK, even though I arrived here 18 years ago. When I heard about Migrateful I knew this would be a great way to get out of the house, meet people, share my skills and also learn from others. I am very grateful to Migrateful because this opportunity is helping me to reconnect to my roots and keep the knowledge of my traditions alive. I feel very proud to share with London my Angolan culture. It’s helping me to remember who I am and where I’ve come from.
Hello I’m Delores from Jamaica.
I love cooking delicious, nutritional food, using lots of garlic and spices. I was born into a family of chefs. As a young child growing up, I always helped my Grandmother with the cooking, preparing different dishes whilst my mother was out working as a chef. In 2001 I came to the UK on my own, then in 2005 they took away my immigration status and I was no longer allowed to work – 15 years ago and I’m still waiting!
Luckily I am a very positive person, I love singing and my belief in God has kept me strong all these years. I really do love to cook and entertain people. I feel very positive when I’m cooking. A dish that reminds me of home is rice and peas. In my country we didn’t cook rice in the week – only on Sunday. So rice, peas and chicken is like the Sunday roast equivalent in the UK. In the week we eat yam, green banana, cassava.
Hello. I am Yusuf. I come from the North of Syria. I grew up in a big family where my mother spent every day cooking. Sitting down and eating all together was an essential part of my upbringing. An exciting part of this was that every day two to three neighbours would bring us dishes to eat and we would give them a dish in exchange. It was an amazing way to keep trying new things!
I came to the UK four years ago. During this time I lived with two different British families. I was cooking some Syrian recipes and they showed interest in the taste of the food and the way I cook using mainly vegetables and some types of wheat, corn, and bulgur, with a selection of appetizers like hummus and labneh, bread and some dairy mixed with olive oil and courses based on what our land provides us with. In Syria we have very fertile land and an incredible climate for growing food.
Syria is located on the east side of the Mediterranian and it is the biggest country of the Levant region, which was a host for several civilizations. Our diet has evolved over thousands of years from many different influences which is what makes it so delicious.
If you’re wondering what authentic, home cooked Syrian food is really like, I promise you I will be able to show you.
I joined Migrateful to give me a platform to integrate, cook and teach my recipes to different people from the around world. Food is what unites us. One of my favourite Syrian sayings is “the hungry bird doesn’t dance, so let’s break bread together and talk.
Hi, I’m Majeda, a human right activist from Syria!
I had been working as a children’s therapist when the war broke out in Syria in 2011. Me and my family had lived a happy and privileged life in a big house in Damascus. I organised an initiative to feed the thousands of displaced Syrians who were arriving in the capital, having had their homes bombed by the Syrian government. As a result of this activism, I was imprisoned by the regime. I eventually managed to escape Syria and now use food to continue my campaigning in exile. In December 2017, I got refugee status in the UK and my two boys have now come to join me.
I believe there is a relationship between cooking and love and that preparing a meal for the one you love, combining your skills and your feelings to create something, can convey a lot to the person: be it husband, children or friends. People usually leave my cookery classes newly politicised about the Syrian situation and delighted by our incredibly tasty food.
My name is Allaa and I am a spice master and cook from Syria. I had to leave my home city of Aleppo in 2013 and spent some time in Egypt before coming to the UK. When I was in Egypt I set up a spice business selling spices to the growing community of Syrians based there, I was selling around 100kg per week of fresh spice mixes.
In 2019 we settled in Leatherhead, Surrey and feel more comfortable and have a strong community and network. I am in the process of working with TERN to set up a spice business called Bereoa here selling my homemade Z’atar, Aleppo 7 Spice and Turkish Delight. I hope to launch Bereoa in Summer 2021 and to continue teaching my Syrian cookery classes. Sharing my food and sharing my recipes brings me happiness and joy.
Hi, my name is Stella, I grew up in Nigeria and started cooking and growing food from a very young age. I LOVE food, I love the cooking, the sharing food with others and the way that it brings people together.
I didn’t have the opportunity to go to school, but worked from a young age in my mother’s street food restaurant making akara, a popular cake made from beans, plantain, and her own creation, another special snack called meat pie. Her food was very popular as it was so yummy! We had a small farm where we would grow our own aubergines, okra, mango, palm, beans, yam and other delicious vegetables, everything was organic and tasted so much better than the ingredients you get in the supermarkets over here.
When I grew up I met a man, we can say that he is a nasty man. He promised me opportunity, a future and said that he would take me to Europe. He did some horrible things to me, and took me to England, where I became stuck in a situation that I do not want to go into here. I experienced lots of racism and abuse and felt very scared, but I always had the voices of my mother and father with me, encouraging me and giving me belief of a better future.
After 3 and a half years a friend helped me to escape, I found support with the Helen Bamber Foundation and joined a choir, a photography group, a hiking club. They also introduced me to Migrateful to continue developing my main passion, cooking!
My aim in life is to be a chef, writing recipes and sharing my creations with the world. It makes me so happy for people to be eating my dishes. I would also love to have a garden or an allotment, or even a farm, to grow my own vegetables, to be able to make the best food, caring for the ingredients from seed to plate.
My name is Priscille and I’m from Cameroon. I grew up within a very modest family but I had a happy childhood. Our house was always full of joy, laughter, good conversation and squeals of delight. Cameroon has a reputation for being a very sociable country, so it’s very common to see neighbours and relatives sharing a meal on a regular basis. I developed an understanding of the importance of creating bonds and happiness through good food from a young age. My mum was my teacher. I began with little tasks such as peeling vegetables, onions and garlic. As time went by, I was introduced to more elaborate meals. When I was 11, I cooked my first full meal of a traditional okra soup with prawns and foufou, a party was thrown on my behalf where people from neighbouring households came with nuts, fruits and vegetables as gifts to celebrate the accomplishment of me becoming a reliable chef in their eyes. Sadly, I had to leave that behind and come to Uk.
When I arrived, things weren’t as straightforward as I had imagined. I found it extremely challenging to integrate and interact with people. I was suffering from post traumatic stress and the language barrier didn’t make it any easier. I decided to join some organisations who could help me to work through my challenges. Once being among them, I began to apply the lessons I learnt back into my everyday life. I started cooking for people regularly. When I was offered the opportunity to join Migrateful, I was thrilled. I’m very happy to be able to share some of my cooking knowledge but more importantly, to be surrounded by the joy, laughter and conversations that surround a good meal…
Hi I am Tilly from the South of Sri Lanka. I arrived in the UK on my own in my teens and I didn’t know how to cook. I was starving many days as I didn’t know how to cook and I missed my mother’s food. One time she rang me and asked me what I was eating in England so I told her I was very hungry and not eating properly. So my mother said “take the phone to the kitchen and follow my cooking instructions”. That’s how I learnt to cook – over the phone! I miss mainly three things about my mother country; my family, the food and the weather. Sri Lanken food is delicious and I’m very excited to have the opportunity to teach others how to cook it!
Hi my name is Atiqa and I come from Pakistan. Cooking is a really important part of my life. When I cook it connects me to my mum and my country, Pakistan. For some reason, I got disconnected from my family and whenever I cook I feel like my mother is there. I learnt to cook when I came to the UK but anything I make is inspired by my countries flavours! Abbottabbad is my city in the north of Pakistan. It’s a big city with lots of tourists, bordering Afghanistan. My food and the way I dress shares many features with Afghan culture.
Hello, I’m Sereh from Gambia. I was brought up in a town called Boo Noknok manok. My mother wasn’t around when I was growing up so my great grandmother taught me to cook when I was very young. In Gambia all young girls learn how to sweep, boil the rice, wash your cloths and look after yourself from a very young age. My mother tongue is Mandinka. I arrived 11 years ago to Bristol. I have a strong community here. I’m still waiting to get my status from the Home Office so I can start working. I really love cooking. I would like to be a professional chef one day. I love dancing and learning new things. I wanted to join Migrateful because I love cooking so much and I’m excited to teach others about my food
Hello, I am Negla from Sudan. My grandmother taught me to cook (my mother died when I was 15 years old) when I got married age 19 – she explained to me it’s very important to be able to cook for your husband. But even then I didn’t take much interest in cooking because my auntie and sisters always did the cooking at home. Then 10 years ago my family and I were forced to leave Sudan because of the war and we arrived to the UK as refugees. We didn’t have my sisters around anymore so I had to start cooking for my family. It was the first time I had properly cooked for my husband. I have 3 daughters and one son. They liked my cooking a lot. I started to to try lots of different dishes and then I realised I was an amazing cook.
Hello! I am Amanee from Morocco. I am passionate about cooking and it has always been my dream to be a chef. I love sharing the wonderful flavours of Morocco with people new to them. We have so many delicious dishes. I am the oldest child in my family and I learnt to cook by helping my mother in the kitchen. She taught me how to make things from scratch – to make many types of bread for example. My mother always used fresh ingredients that she bought from the market each day. We lived near the sea and so cooked with a lot of fresh fish. I like our traditional food very much and the traditional methods. I love the sound of the pestle grinding spices in the mortar. We cook using our eyes and our hands, judging ingredients and quantities from experience and taste.
Every Moroccan house has mint tea ready for their guests. I look forward to sharing mint tea with you.
Hola! My name is Rosa and I am from Venezuela. I was born in the Capital, Caracas. I have so many memories of my beloved city: a concrete jungle with bright blue skies, fluffy clouds and the Avila mountain always green and majestic, making it the perfect postcard!.
At a very young age, my mom introduced me to the joy of gastronomy. As a single mom, I think that was the way she found to bond. We would dine out every Sunday, after she finished work, choosing from our favourite restaurants. Venezuelan gastronomy is very rich and diverse because it has a strong influence of Spain, Italy and Portugal.
I came to the UK at the end of 2018. I have always been a foodie but because I was not allowed to work I had to find a way to cultivate this passion at a lower cost. I started picking up Food Bank parcels and volunteering at the local food club and I discovered that using humble ingredients did not stop me from making delicious and nutritious recipes.
So come and join one of my classes, we will have lots of fun together and you will discover some traditional dishes from Venezuela.
Hello, I’m Christina. I was born in the north east of China, an area rich in minerals, traditional rice growing and delicious spicy food. I studied business and finance at University and then worked in an advertising agency. I was lucky enough to have the chance to study for a Masters in Cyprus. I really wanted to go abroad, to open my eyes and broaden my horizons. There, I met my British husband. After living in Cyprus, we came to the UK and settled in Canterbury in 2013. I love to meet people from different cultures and hope that they find me open minded. I am particularly curious about history. If you’d like to visit Canterbury Cathedral, I might be your guide as I volunteer there!
I found lockdown very difficult and isolating. Training with Migrateful has been wonderful for my mental health. It has increased my self esteem and boosted my speaking skills. I look forward to sharing some of my favourite celebratory Chinese foods with you. Come join me for a Chinese Dumpling party!
Hello everyone, my name is Heba and I am from Syria. The meaning of my name is gift from God. I have been living in the UK since 2018 and I live with my family in Folkestone where I am very happy, and hope that my happiness will be permanent. In Syria I was a nurse working in a hospital for 3 years helping surgeons, and I am also a hairdresser! We left Syria because of the war and after we lost everything, my father, memories and our home we fled into the unknown and lived in Lebanon…six years of hell that I will never forget.
Since living in the UK I have been working in a Spanish restaurant as a chef’s assistant. I like Spanish food, but not as much as the Syrian food that we are going to cook this evening. I am excited to be able to share my recipes with you because I don’t cook as much as I’d like to, but when I do, no one can resist my food! I put all my feelings of love and joy into my food. And also happiness and some sadness and pain… sad things have an artistic peculiarity. Only those who have lived it can feel it. When I cook, I feel like I find myself and I dream of being a famous chef when everyone wants to taste my food. My only wish is to live in peace with my family.
Hi, I’m Leo from Russia. When I was a child, my mother and sister did all the cooking for our family and it wasn’t until I left home when I was 19 that I had to learn how to cook for myself. I already enjoyed eating food from different parts of the world and I wanted to be able to cook it for myself. I became an experimenter in the kitchen. As well as cooking, I paint and take photographs. I love art and I think cooking is a type of art – it’s really creative. Art takes its inspiration from life and so does cooking. It makes me happy to cook for other people and to give them pleasure through my food. I always ask friends to rate my food on a scale of 1-10 to get their feedback! I am very happy to be able to share some Russian “10” dishes with you in my classes.
Hello. My name is Manal and I am from Syria. I have been living in the UK since 2014 along with my husband and two children. My love of cooking started at a young age when, like many Arabic girls, I spent a lot of time in the kitchen helping my mother to prepare family meals. I went on to study cooking at college and spent a couple of years teaching cookery classes for 14-17 year olds at a school in Syria.
Since arriving in the UK, I have channelled my energy into completing English language and book-keeping courses, the Migrateful chef’s training programme and I am about to start studying photography at university. I have also produced my own Syrian cookery book to raise funds for refugees and recently I have been asked to cater for some private events which is very exciting and something I would like to do more of. My aim is to build a successful career for myself which combines my passions for cooking and photography.
I can’t wait to teach you my favourite traditional Syrian recipes and to share stories about Syrian culture as we cook and enjoy a meal together.