• Local restaurant hires refugee chefs to feed, educate community

    By: Lauren Coleman

    Updated:

    MEMPHIS, Tenn. - Chefs at Global Café at the Crosstown Concourse are hard at work preparing meals for a long line of customers. 

    General Manager Juan Viramontes said the chefs come from all around the world. 

    "It's a social enterprise for refugees and immigrants and we run it," Viramontes said. "All of the main chefs, the head chef, and myself."

    The international food hall hosts three chefs from Syria, Venezuela and Sudan. 


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    Each chef serves up authentic recipes native to their respective countries. 

    Viramontes said Global Café aims to give chefs a better chance at life.

    "As you know, or as you may know when refugees relocate, they have to come and learn a different culture, different language, and a different lifestyle as a whole," Viramontes explained. "And a lot of them end up in warehouses or other jobs that are dead end for lack of a better term." 

    Chef Fayha Sakkan came to the U.S. from Syria nearly 30 years ago. 

    She said the diverse menu helps to educate Memphians not just about different foods, but different cultures. 

    "I'm so happy, I'm really, really happy," Sakkan said. "Makes me happy when people like our food and they come back." 

    Employees like her said they hope their food can help to bring people together, no matter where they come from. 

    "Food speaks all languages," Viramontes said. "Everybody eats, everybody understands food. Not everyone is going to understand refugees and immigration, but everyone understands food and the concept of food and it's simple nature." 

    Global Café celebrated its one-year anniversary on Sunday. 

    Viramontes said the café will unveil new menu items soon.

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