Refugee Response's Annual Benefit on Oct. 2 in Ohio City to Feature Global Food, Culture


This six-acre urban farm in Ohio City is the site of the annual Refugee Response benefit. - BILLY DELFS
  • Billy Delfs
  • This six-acre urban farm in Ohio City is the site of the annual Refugee Response benefit.
“It’s going to be a little different this year,” executive director Patrick Kearns says of the annual Refugee Response benefit on Oct. 2. “This year we’re really excited because we get to showcase the food, the culture and the cuisine of a lot of the folks we are honored to serve through our work and to put a spotlight on some food that people might not encounter on a regular basis.”

For 11 years, Refugee Response has worked “to help newly arriving families turn this new place into a new home and have success once they arrive,” explains Kearns. Funds are raised for the organization via this benefit, but also from the fruits of the six-acre farm in Ohio City, which is one of the largest, longest-lasting and most productive urban farms in America. Those fresh foods are sold to area restaurants, at the farm stand and through direct-to-consumer CSAs.

In years past, the food served at the event has been provided by Cleveland’s top chefs. This year, the organization opted to switch gears and highlight a diverse selection of cuisine, add Kearns.

“This is a global cuisine that is reflective of the folks that we work with as well as a lot of the folks that have been coming into Cleveland,” he says.

At least 15 refugee- and immigrant-owned restaurants and catering businesses will be preparing a tantalizing selection of compelling foods.

Habesha, an Ethiopian and Eritrean restaurant on Cleveland’s west side, will serve sambusas. Chef Jose Coronado will serve Guatemalan vegan ceviche. Thomas Khoon, a Karen refugee from Burma and Refugee Response staff member, will serve coconut noodle soup, crispy cakes and tea leaf salad. Ohio Kabob Grill will serve Kabuli pulao, koobideh (beef and lamb) kabobs, and hummus with naan baked on-site in a tandoor oven. Furahi: A Taste of Home will serve Congolese sambusas and beignets. Liu Fang and Carl Setzer will serve steamed spicy Sichuan beef baozi, pan-fried kielbasa baozi, coconut sauerkraut bing and cherry chocolate mooncake. Hujra will serve khajoor, a sweet treat from Afghanistan. Tasty Space will serve Ukrainian chocolate and honey cream cakes with berries.

All the food, along with an open bar, open seating, stage for speakers and live entertainment, will be located under a big tent right on the farm (wear appropriate footwear).

The main gala begins at 7 p.m., while a VIP reception with champagne and hors d’oeuvres from chef and Refugee Response board member Karen Small of Flying Fig restaurant begins at 6 p.m.

Register for tickets here.

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