We are thrilled to announce our participation in the Refugee Food Festival, a citizen initiative aiming to show that civil society has a fundamental role to play in the way refugees are welcomed. The festival pairs refugee chefs with local restaurants for a pop-up dinner featuring the chef's native cuisine. On Tuesday, June 19th, we'll be hosting Chef Pa Wah, who'll be cooking up a special menu of Burmese fare along with our classic Hog Island dishes. A portion of the day's proceeds will go to Oakland Bloom, a local nonprofit who supports aspiring chef entrepreneurs from refugee, immigrant, and low-income communities.
Pa Wah was born in Burma in Karen State during one of history's longest civil wars. Her parents were farmers and when they heard of a better life in the USA they fled on foot with their children crossing the border into Thailand. Pa wah spent the majority of her life in Mae La refugee camp in Thailand. During her time at Mae La, Pa Wah would sell home-cooked food to other refugees, creating a business of her own. 6 years ago Pa Wah finally fulfilled her parent's dream, reaching the US with her own 5 children (ranging in ages from 5-17). As a single mom, Pa Wah raises her children, while working multiple jobs and catering Burmese dishes from her home. When asked what she would like to share about the refugee experience, Pa Wa tells us: "Life in the camp was hard and living here in the USA is better, but not perfect, at times it is hard as well."
In 2015, Pa Wah joined Oakland Bloom’s food entrepreneurship training program and has since been working towards expanding her local neighborhood business, having catered and cooked for a variety of organizations, companies, and private events. She’s been featured in Oakland Bloom Night Markets, Burmese Dinner Pop-ups and was a guest chef for a series of local cultural dinners at Stanford University and UC Berkeley.
As a part of Oakland Bloom’s effort to help entrepreneurs start their business, Oakland Bloom is partnering with Refugee Food Festival to showcase Pa Wah’s unique take on Burmese cuisine. Pa Wah’s dream is to have her own Burmese restaurant one day and is excited to leap into the next stage of her career with a mobile food truck and/or brick and mortar spot in Oakland.
Refugee Food Festival (RFF) is a citizen's initiative that was launched by Paris based NGO Food Sweet Food and UNHCR in 2016. After a successful run in Paris, RFF spread to cities throughout Europe the following year. This summer San Francisco is one of the first cities to participate outside of Europe, alongside Cape Town and New York City. The festival aims to use the power of food to debunk the negative images surrounding refugeeism and promote positive discussions regarding the issue in today's society. To commemorate World Refugee Day on June 20, the Refugee Food Festival will launch in San Francisco for five nights from June 19-23, 2018.
Five San Francisco restaurants will show solidarity with refugees by opening their kitchens to refugee chefs living in the United States. This year’s talented participating chefs are refugees from Bhutan, Iraq, Myanmar, Senegal, and Syria. Please find the schedule for all San Francisco restaurants below, our pop-up dinner will begin at 4:00 pm on June 19th.
Tuesday, June 19 – Myanmarese Cuisine • by Pa Wah • Hog Island Oyster Co.
Wednesday, June 20 – Iraqi • by Muna Anaee • Tawla
Thursday, June 21 – Bhutanese Cuisine • by Anu Mapchan • DOSA on Fillmore
Friday, June 22 – Iraqi Cuisine • by Muna Anaee • Son’s Addition
Saturday, June 23 – Senegalese Cuisine • by Vito • Jardinière
Please note, Hog Island Oyster Co. will not be taking reservations for this event. If you'd like to visit any of the other restaurants, please visit their websites for reservation information!