After an incredible response to Australia's inaugural Cook For Syria campaign, some of the country's top chefs are again banding together to create a meal with purpose: raising funds for UNICEF's work with children displaced by the civil war in Syria. Cook For Syria came to Australia last year from London, and the launch event at Three Blue Ducks raised $35,000. This year, the campaign is again encouraging people across the country to come together over a meal, whether it's at home or at your local bowling club, to support the fundraising effort. Cafés and restaurants can also get involved by adding special #CookforSyria dishes to their menu, with a proportion of each sale going towards the campaign.
While fundraisers such as this are a reminder of the ongoing conflict and its effects, the tremendous support among the community for the month-long initiative is one bright spot.
Among the returning chefs to this year's launch dinner in Sydney are Kylie Kwong, Luke Powell of LP's Quality Meats, Paul Carmichael of Momofuku Seiobo and Almond Bar's Carol and Sharon Salloum, who themselves have family in Syria.
"Last year was awesome," Carmichael says. "I think everybody was on the same page, wanting to have a good time and put on a good event and I think it showed."
Dishes will be shared banquet-style, from the entrées by chefs including Monty Koludrovic (Icebergs), Jordan Toft (Bert's) and Palisa Anderson (Chat Thai) to the main courses and sides, which are in the hands of Lennox Hastie (Firedoor), Jacqui Challinor (Nomad) and Africola chefs Duncan Welgemoed and Imogen Czulowski, among others. All the dishes take inspiration from Syrian ingredients and cuisine. Diners can expect Kwong's saltbush cakes, served here with Syrian spices, a salad of stringy haloumi, lentils and chargrilled capsicum courtesy of Carol and Sharon Salloum and savoury doughnuts by Saint Peter's Josh and Julie Niland, who are filling them with smoked eel dip, pickled beetroot jam and cardamom.
The big names giving their time to the cause don't end there. Kylie Javier Ashton, Momofuku Seiobo's floor manager, will be overseeing front-of-house while TV chef and UNICEF Australia ambassador Adam Liaw will MC the event.
The full line-up of chefs is below.
Cook For Syria 2018, 6.30pm, 18 June. Three Blue Ducks, 1/85 Dunning Ave, Rosebery, NSW. $280 plus booking fee for shared meal and matched wines. Bookings via threeblueducks.com.au
Andrew Bowden, Saga, NSW
Carol and Sharon Salloum, Almond Bar, NSW
Duncan Welgemoed and Imogen Czulowski, Africola, SA
Gregory Llewellyn, Hartsyard, NSW
Jacqui Challinor, Nomad, NSW
James Viles, Biota, NSW
Jordan Toft, Bert's, NSW
Josh and Julie Niland, Saint Peter, NSW
Kylie Kwong, Billy Kwong, NSW
Lennox Hastie, Firedoor, NSW
Luke Powell, LP's Quality Meats, NSW
Mark LaBrooy and Andy Allen, Three Blue Ducks
Matt Stone and Jo Barrett, Oakridge Wines, Vic
Monty Koludrovic, Icebergs Dining Room & Bar and The Dolphin Dining Room, NSW
Nadine Ingram, Flour & Stone, NSW
Palisa Anderson, Chat Thai, NSW
Paul Carmichael, Momofuku Seiobo, NSW