14 November 2018
Komorebipost
Special Story

The odyssey of Mohammad el Khaldy, the Syrian chef who refuses to be a refugee

Mohammad’s life told by points.
In Damascus he ran a successful restaurant and once settled with his family in Paris he no longer had a penny.
Participation in the first World Festival of refugees, in 2016, with a Syrian menu and thanks to the support and cuisine of the great Basque chef Stéphane Jégo in his L’Ami Jean restaurant.
Through the help of some acquaintances and through the encouragement of many French chefs, Mohammad has created a catering company that cooks for brands like Kenzo during the fashion week and at the Palais de Tokyo.

Mohammad’s life for points

“He leaves Damascus in 2012, a Lebanese wife, three young children, Bekaa Valley, problems with the Lebanese authorities, he moves to Cairo (without family), opens a restaurant next to Tahir Square”.

“Problems with the visa, after Al Sisi the Egyptian authorities revoke the visa, owner puts the seals at the restaurant, opportunities in a restaurant in Marrakesh but would have to enter Morocco illegally, involved in another catering project in Cairo”.

“Wife and children join him after two years’ separation, but he is again excluded from the Egyptian partners who are aware that, because of his dubious status, he could not oppose. He sells furniture and borrows money “. “My wife said: no, we are together”.

“July 13, 2014 embarks in Alexandria, back and forth for four days between the waters of Alexandria and the Libyan. Every day more than one hundred people get into the boat “. “To make room for people we threw everything we could into the sea, even the sonar”.

“750 people on the boat. 12 days. Dates, water “. “Food finished in seven days”. Finally a container ship sees them, approaches and delivers water, milk for children, bread, mortadella, canned fish, transmits their position to the Italian navy. Life jackets, rough seas, two days on a navy ship to arrive in Italy, housed in a gym, “they cooked for us”.

“The police arrive in the morning, bus ticket closed, mayor very kind opens the ticket office. Bus to Rome, train to Milan, sleep in the station, cousin in Denmark, 28 Syrians in groups on the train to Hamburg, then Copenhagen, to the extreme north of Denmark. ‘For a year I worked as a translator, camp driver.’ Request for asylum rejected. In Germany. Brother in Paris. Arrives in Paris in October 2015. Welcome center. After six months asylum application in France accepted “.

The daily life of the chef told by himself in a recent interview with the British monthly “Prospect”.
The simplicity of a man who, despite adversity, didn’t give up, didn’t give up and tried to overcome the various obstacles presented before.
The dark periods, the distance from the family, work and then, finally, the deserved success. His delicious dishes and the charm of French and European cuisine that impressed him, despite Europe “doesn’t know very well the use of spices and herbs” (as he himself says).

The simplicity and the admirable gratitude of the man enclosed in a sweet dessert served on plates on which the image of the hands of Massimo Bottura is illustrated.
An image that symbolically represents France (for giving stability to man and family); while the nest is their home and the egg is the little baby.

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Eleonora Boccuni

Eleonora Boccuni

"Sound information is the cradle of knowledge and is directly proportional to the interest felt for knowledge."

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