LA Top 101 Restaurant Spearheaded by Refugee Global Chefs
Flavors From Afar is a one-of-a-kind restaurant and social enterprise of the Tiyya Foundation providing asylum seekers and refugees interested in culinary arts the platform to showcase their cuisines. Each featured chef is given the opportunity to hone their culinary skills in a restaurant setting, gain valuable work experience, and receive a percent of gross sales. Additionally, forty percent of all FFA proceeds helps maintain Tiyya’s programs providing economic resources for immigrants, refugees, and displaced indigenous communities.
What is the primary issue area that your application will impact?
Immigrant and Refugee Support
In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?
In what stage of innovation is this project, program, or initiative?
Expand existing project, program, or initiative
What is your understanding of the issue that you are seeking to address?
When displaced clients arrive in LA, they are mostly starting from zero. Many don’t speak English, are experiencing new trauma, and are overwhelmed. It’s common for these families to find comforts in traditional recipes passed down from generation to generation. For those who have interest in the culinary arts, FFA provides a safe space to nurture existing skills, expand knowledge, build relationships, and encourage a new life in the U. S. FFA’s esteemed Culinary Program provides individualized attention and experience, allowing home cooks to professionalize their skills, in hopes of one day opening their own businesses. Wildly successful in the competitive LA restaurant scene, this program provides clients direct control of their finances while removing language & job history barriers typically standing in their way. This project was born from Tiyya’s clients, particularly the women, stepping up to provide alternative financial resources by tapping into an existing talent.
Describe the project, program, or initiative this grant will support to address the issue.
FFA was born from the desire to use food to share the culinary traditions, cultures, and stories of refugee and asylum seekers with Southern California. Each month, in partnership with the Tiyya Foundation, FFA identifies a different refugee/asylum seeker to work directly with the head chef to create an authentic, restaurant quality menu focused on bringing traditional cultural dishes to our guests. Each featured chef is given the opportunity to hone their culinary skills in a restaurant setting, gaining valuable work experience, and receiving a portion of the sales for the month. This is food you can feel good about. FFA is a social enterprise of the Tiyya Foundation. Forty percent of proceeds go directly to Tiyya to support economic opportunities and critical resources for immigrants, refugees, and displaced indigenous communities. This grant will provide the support needed to continue and expand the valued culinary program. As the program expands, we would like to explore growth areas to generate income for the restaurant/chefs such as private dining, catering, having a presence at expos, and selling at farmers markets. As an additional benefit, increased proceeds from FFA, supports Tiyya’s programs throughout Orange County and Los Angeles focused on Mothers, Children, Economic Advancement, and Community Development.
Describe how Los Angeles County will be different if your work is successful.
Flavors from Afar embodies the multicultural Los Angeles food culture at its core. Rotating chefs every month, it provides the community exposure to a vast selection of various cultures and global cuisines. A large population in LA who identify as foodies didn’t have exposure to authentic immigrant dishes like the ones you find in homes - until now. The restaurant also provides each home-taught chef dealing with displacement and trauma, a safe outlet to share their talents and unique foods with the community they have made their new home. It’s a chance for them to learn the American way, interact with American clientele, and plant roots in the community they now call home.
What evidence do you have that this project, program, or initiative is or will be successful, and how will you define and measure success?
Our goal is to provide on the job training for former refugee and asylum seekers who are interested in the culinary arts. We are happy to report that one of our former chefs has continued on to launch her own restaurant “Malia’s Kitchen” in Minneapolis, Minnesota. We also have several chefs such as Lina from “Mama Lina’s” who have expanded their home catering services using experience learned from FFA. The majority of our impact is measured by the qualitative experience of our customers. With over 100 reviews on Yelp, we have maintained a 5-star rating since our opening week which coincided with the initial stay at home order. Despite the hurdles of the pandemic, our guests feel connected to our mission to employ and celebrate refugees from around the world. On a qualitative scope, the number of guests and catering jobs have significantly increased in the past year - partly attribute to Covid restrictions loosening after various stages of quarantines in Los Angeles.
Approximately how many people will be impacted by this project, program, or initiative?
Direct Impact: 20
Indirect Impact: 14,000