Food News

Cook for Syria dinner returns to Sydney, with an all-female line-up

Some of the country’s best food and wine talent are serving a Syrian-inspired feast, with all funds raised going towards UNICEF.

By Madeleine Bentley
Some of the chefs lined-up for the Cook for Syria dinner
Some of Australia's best hospitality talent are coming together at #CookForSyria, a UNICEF charity dinner on 12 August at Sydney restaurant Nomad.
The four-course dinner (with matching wines) is a culmination and collaboration from an all-female line-up of chefs, sommeliers and front-of-house staff led by Nomad's head chef Jacqui Challinor. All proceeds from the dinner will go towards UNICEF Australia's Syria Crisis Appeal for children needing emergency aid as a result of the country's civil war.
"Cook for Syria is a fantastic opportunity to raise much needed funds for a great cause, and also a chance to create awareness about what is happening in Syria," says Challinor."If coming together with mates and great chefs is all it takes, then it's really not asking too much of us."
And her mates? Diners will spy Thi Le (Anchovy), Emma McCaskill (Sparkke at the Whitmore) and Shannon Martinez (Smith & Daughters) at the pans, and pastry extraordinaires Jaci Koludrovic (Icebergs Dining Room & Bar) and Julie Niland (Saint Peter) on dessert duties. Almond Bar's sister chefs Carol and Sharon Salloum, who have family in Syria, will also be joining the kitchen team.
Nomad head chef Jacqui Challinor Photo: Ben Hansen
The menu is still a work in progress, but expect to see dishes that take ingredients and cues from Syrian cuisine. "We'll be using ingredients like fresh za'atar (wild thyme), fresh stringy haloumi, date molasses, Aleppo pepper and muhammara (a spiced red capsicum dip)," says Sharon Salloum. Pomegranates and Iranian figs are also likely to feature.
Sixpenny head sommelier Bridget Raffal will be in charge of the wine list, while Momofuku Seiobo's Kylie Javier Ashton and Africola's Nikki Friedl will be overseeing front-of-house responsibilities.
All ingredients and wine for the event have been donated, and all proceeds raised will directly support UNICEF's work to deliver emergency supplies, food, clean water, medical care, protection and psychological support to millions of displaced Syrian children.
The first Cook for Syria in Sydney, held at Three Blue Ducks in 2017, raised over $35,000 for UNICEF. Challinor, along with chefs such as Kylie Kwong, Palisa Anderson (Chat Thai, Boon Luck Farm) and Nadine Ingram (Flour & Stone), cooked at last year's banquet-style dinner.
"To be able to feed and nourish the people you love is very special," Challinor said in a statement. "It is incredibly meaningful to be able to provide help and hope via this dinner to children and their families affected by the ongoing crisis in Syria."
Cook for Syria 2019, 6.30pm, Monday 12 August. Nomad, 16 Foster St, Surry Hills, NSW. $295 (plus booking fee) for a four-course meal and matched wines. Bookings via
Full line-up:
Jacqui Challinor, Nomad, NSW
Julie Niland, Saint Peter, NSW
Claire Van Vuuren, Bloodwood, NSW
Emma McCaskill, Sparkke at The Whitmore, SA
Thi Li, Anchovy, VIC
Shannon Martinez, Smith & Daughters, VIC
Sharon and Carol Salloum, Almond Bar, NSW
Jaci Koludrovic, Icebergs Dining Room & Bar, NSW
Isabelle Caulfield, Poly, NSW
Federica Andrisani, Fico, TAS
Imogen Czulowski, Africola, SA
Palisa Anderson, Boon Luck Farm, NSW
Sarah Knights, Automata, NSW
Bridget Raffal, Sixpenny, NSW
Sam Payne, wine communicator, NSW
Front of house:
Kylie Javier Ashton, Momofuku Seiobo, NSW
Nikki Friedl, Africola, SA
  • undefined: Madeleine Bentley