Syrian chef Haisam Akil will be preparing the food for the Syrian dinner and dance event in Chemainus on Oct. 14.  (Photo submitted)

Syrian chef Haisam Akil will be preparing the food for the Syrian dinner and dance event in Chemainus on Oct. 14. (Photo submitted)

Authentic Syrian food the centrepiece of Chemainus dinner and dance fundraiser

Syrian food to highlight event

A fun evening of special food, music, and dance is planned on Oct. 14 to support a local refugee family of six.

The Syrian family will be arriving soon in Chemainus after being held up in refugee camps in Turkey.

The Cowichan Neighbourhood House Association is a co-sponsor of the family and is encouraging a good turnout at the ‘Syrian Dinner and Dance’ at 6 p.m. at St. Joseph’s Elementary School in Chemainus.

The chef for the event is Haisam Akil, who operated a restaurant in Syria for four years, then left for Egypt and came to Canada in 2016.

He was a chef at the Four Seasons Hotel in Syria, and at the Sheikh Alifa National Club in Abudhabi.

Like most Syrians who have left their native country, Akil said through his interpreter, Omar Besher, that he came to Canada in search of a better life and particularly to provide a better opportunity for education for his six children, ranging in age from four to 19.

Akil said his children have already decided they don’t want to live anywhere else.

“They are so happy here,” he said while preparing Syrian dishes for the dinner.

Akil, who is now learning English through the Cowichan Intercultural Society, acknowledged his children are quicker learners than he is and he’s benefiting from their help.

“I am also grateful for the respect and love myself and my family have encountered here,” he said.

The menu for the dinner will include falafel, tabouli, baba ganoush, chicken kabsah, beef kebabs, rice and green peas and pita bread.

Tickets for the event are $50 each, available from 49th Parallel Grocery or Chemainus Health Foods.