Food is something that brings us all together, no matter our cultural background or the language we speak.
Local eateries are bringing that concept to their menu by celebrating Treasure Valley Refugee Restaurant Week for the second year in a row.
Refugee chefs are teaming up with restaurant cooks to recreate food from their home countries.
Modern Hotel and Bar is one of the four restaurants participating and this week they are featuring Karen cuisine, a type of southeast Asian food.
Guest chef Dah Bu Soe from Burma works at Modern Hotel and Bar full time but this week, for the first time, he is cooking native dishes from his country.
“Boise is very good,” says Soe.
Soe has been living in Boise for the past six years.
He came to the U.S. after spending 13 years in a Thailand refugee camp.
“I have my father-in-law, mother-in-law, and my wife, my kids, they are here. My parents, they still live in a refugee camp,” explains Soe.
Soe cooks alongside Modern Hotel and Bar’s head chef Nate Whitley.
This week the roles have reversed and he's teaching Whitley how to make Karen cuisine.
“We use a lot of chilies, different flavored,” says Soe.
Cloud ear mushroom salad with prawns, beef sirloin with lemongrass, coconut rice, and grilled bok choy will be featured on the restaurant's dinner menu until Sunday.
“It’s exciting to bring his food tradition into our kitchen and highlight what he does at home and we can try to integrate it with what we do,” says Whitley. “He has had some people over to his house for big parties where he has cooked for us and it's amazing food.”
Treasure Valley Refugee Restaurant Week was thought up by Kara Fink with the Idaho Office of Refugees.
Fink was inspired by a similar event in Paris, France.
“It's basically a chance for people to try new foods they haven't tried before, and I think that's a good way for people to see how the refugee population can enrich our community,” says Whitley. “I'm really proud of this city for being so welcoming to the refugees, especially in light of national trends.”
Below is a complete list of participating restaurants.
• Grit American Cuisine – Nepalese Cuisine
Menu: Pork Momo, Fried Okra, Nepali-Style Chicken Chow Mein
o Guest Chef – Ratna Subba
o Grit Chef - Paul Faucher
• Modern Hotel & Bar – Karen Cuisine
Menu: Cloud Ear Mushroom Salad with Prawns, Beef Sirloin with Lemongrass, Coconut Rice, Grilled Bok Choy
o Guest Chef – Dah Bu Soe
o Modern Chef – Nate Whitley
• The STIL – Syrian-inspired ice cream
Menu: Syrian-inspired flavor with rose water, orange blossom water, and pistachio
o Guest Chef – Najlaa Omar
o STIL Chef – Elena Gallina
• The Hyde House – Iraqi Cuisine
October 10-12 Lunch; Menu: Chicken Biryani, Shrimp Biryani
October 13 Dinner; White bean Curry with Lamb
o Guest Chef – Hussein Jumaah
o Hyde House Chef – Raylene Ward