Catering Students to Gain a Taste of Other World Cultures Thanks to a Fundraiser Arranged by a Local Charity

DARLINGTON College students will be given masterclasses from El Salvador, Turkey and Ukraine by friends of the charity Darlington Assistance for Refugees.

Local entrepreneur Mouhyedin Alkhalil, the ‘Falafel Fella’, who is originally from Syria, will also be involved in demonstrating traditional food methods to the students and creating a dish for the event, a fundraising taster menu being staged in the Glasshouse Restaurant

The event is the idea of Darlington College Admissions and Enquiries team leader Holly Brannan, who volunteers with the charity in her free time.

Due to be staged in March, the evening, which will host 50 guests, will not only raise much-needed funds to support the plight of the hundreds of refugees who have made Darlington their home, but also enhance the skills of students.

Darlington Assistance for Refugees is a volunteer-run charity which directs all its funds to helping refugees and asylum seekers as they build new lives in our community.

It runs weekly drop-ins and outings for refugees, providing them with resources including English-language teaching materials, snacks, drinks and stationery.

Proceeds also help with buying school uniforms, household goods and furniture after asylum seekers attain their refugee status.

“Being able to raise funds with an event like this is a win-win for everyone involved,”: said Holly. “The chefs helping us with the event engage with DAR regularly and some are even studying English at the college too. This will enrich their student experience as well as helping our catering students gain an even greater skill set in traditional international food.

“Darlington is very welcoming as a community to these refugees and as a charity we wanted to stage an event that brings everyone together over their love of good food while raising some funds for a worthy cause. Refugees and asylum seekers are just like everyone else – they love to cook and they love to eat.”

Catering lecturer Dawn Cobb-Neate said the department was delighted to help and the students would really benefit from the event.

“Having masterclasses in authentic recipes from countries including El Salvador, Syria and Turkey will be incredible for our students,” she said. “It will be completely different from what they are used to and will give them an insight into other cultures.”

The meal will begin with European canapes and be followed by a Syrian starter of falafel, an Asian fish curry, Middle Eastern chicken with bejewelled rice, a Ukrainian dish and a North African dessert of saffron crème brûlée with dates and Turkish petit fours.

Students taking part include those studying the level 5 Foundation Degree, level 3 professional cookery and level 2 food and beverage courses.

Anyone wanting to donate to DAR should visit

Photograph: L3 diploma in professional cookery student Nathan Mawson, of Shildon, researches food from El Salvador

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