IRC Cooks is a pilot program bringing you the traditional dishes of Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan through the expertise of IRC in Denver women clients in an interactive, monthly cooking class.
Food is an essential part of survival; however, it is so much more than this. The rich flavors, enticing aromas, and vibrant colors of our traditional dishes connect us to different cultures and histories while building memories that last a lifetime.
This program seeks to empower and create bridges between refugees and the welcoming community in Colorado by facilitating cross-cultural experiences and a space where refugees can share a piece of their culture. IRC Cooks includes 8 monthly classes every second Tuesday of the month from 9:30am to 11:30am. The program runs from November 8th, 2022 through June 13th, 2023 with classes held at the Metro Caring at 1100 E 18th Avenue, Denver, CO 80218. One client from our IRC office will lead the class and teach up to 8 community attendees. Featured dishes may include Kabuli pulao, mantu, stuffed grape leaves, tabbouleh, and more!
The IRC Cooks program is integrated into the IRC in Denver’s Psychosocial Support Services (PSS) that emphasizes wellness, integration, community, and building social and cultural bridges among refugees and the welcoming community. Mireille Bakhos, our PSS Specialist, has brought to life IRC Cooks and a number of other PSS programs including We Can Do It! Her work continues with IRC Cooks as she coordinates with community partners and recruits and prepares women to teach the classes. The women will also become ServSafe certified, which can lead to job opportunities in the future. As a strength-based program, IRC Cooks will build on the women’s strengths as great cooks and empower them to teach community members their cultural recipes. IRC Cooks was born from the responsive reaction from the welcoming community and out of a willingness and excitement to connect with refugee women and try their cultural recipes.
This program will provide refugees the opportunity to be on the giving side of community integration and impart their knowledge on others while showing the holistic experiences of refugees. IRC Cooks aims to make space for people to showcase their life and cultures while overcoming displacement. Refugees are more than the challenges they face and experience moments of joy and triumph as they resettle in new countries. Refugees bring more than they can carry when fleeing their homes, and that includes their traditions, which deserve to be preserved, celebrated, and passed down for generations to come.