People In Toronto Are Lining Up For Brunch At A Pop-Up Restaurant Run By Syrian Refugees | SAVEUR


People in Toronto are lining up for brunch at a pop-up restaurant run by Syrian refugees

By Katherine Whittaker | December 9, 2016 |

“This is an incredibly ancient culinary tradition,” he says, which means that giving these women an outlet to cook and continue practicing their culture is all the more important. “What happens to all that accumulated cultural knowledge and wisdom if there isn’t a place where they can showcase regional differences…it’s important that they are allowed to continue.”

Get your ticket for a meal at Newcomer Kitchen before it sells out

The hottest new brunch in Toronto doesn’t come from a Michelin-starred restaurant, and it doesn’t feature a trendy pastry mashup. It’s a pop-up staffed by Syrian refugees.

Filmmaker Kelli Kieley has been documenting Newcomer Kitchen since she met its co-founder, Len Senater, earlier this year at the project’s beginning planning stages. “At the time it was just such a beautiful story,” she said. “I just started going, and I didn’t know exactly how amazing this project was going to be, but I knew that it was beautiful, and it has been growing so quickly.”

When Senater heard about the growing refugee population in Toronto, his first thought was about their kitchens. How could they cook for themselves, he wondered, if they were staying in hotels for weeks or months? Senater, who founded event and kitchen space The Depanneur, thought that he could give them access to a kitchen so they could cook for themselves and their families. “We invited these ladies, and they cooked this amazing food,” he said.


Newcomer Kitchen : intégrer les réfugiés syriens, un repas à la fois | CBC Radio-Canada


Newcomer Kitchen : intégrer les réfugiés syriens, un repas à la fois

by Jonathan Bouchard | Mardi 6 Décembre 2016 | Radio-Canada

Ça leur permet d’utiliser et de montrer leurs talents et de redonner à leur communauté d’accueil.

Le Newcomer Kitchen est une initiative torontoise qui facilite l’intégration des réfugiés syriens par le biais de la nourriture. Malgré les succès du projet, les organisateurs peinent à rendre le projet autosuffisant.

Une fois par semaine, des réfugiés syriens se rassemblent dans la cuisine du Dépanneur, un espace culinaire à l’ouest du centre-ville de Toronto. Sur place, le groupe prépare des mets typiques de leur pays.



Kibbeh Summaqiyah كبة سماقية

[beef ] Kibbeh summaqiyah  كبة سماقية
Kibbeh in sumac sauce are a specialty of Aleppo, considered by many to be the culinary capital of Syria. Kibbeh – egg-sized elongated balls of finely ground spiced halal beef and bulgur stuffed with a ground beef and nut mixture, are fried and then cooked a tangy, dark red sumac-infused sauce with lots of onion and sometimes eggplant and/or lamb as well. Served with Rez bel Shairieh (rice with vermicelli)

[vegetarian] Kibbeh summaqiyah  كبة سماقية
Vegetarian kibbeh, with a bulgur and potato dough and a mushroom and walnut filling, also cooked in a tangy sumac sauce

Tabbouleh  تبولة‎‎
Originally from the mountains of Syria and Lebanon, tabbouleh has become one of the most popular salads in the Middle East. A fragrant herb salad of parsley and mint, tomato and onion, with a scattering of bulgur, and seasoned with olive oil, lemon, and salt.

Mahalabia  مهلبية
A delicate milk and semolina pudding scented with rose water and garnished with pistachio and a touch of coconut.

$20 +HST


Holiday Cookie Box by Newcomer Kitchen!

nk-cookie-box20 delicious homemade Syrian cookies — a perfect gift!
(If you can resist eating them yourself!)
Add one to your Thursday order for $20.

Meals are available for pickup from The Depanneur,
1033 College Street (between Dufferin & Dovercourt) from 6–7pm
foodora sponsors FREE Delivery within 3km radius
Delivery outside 3km can be arranged with Liam Woolacoot of Saoirse Couriers
647-676-6486  |

Meals go on sale on Tuesday at 7am.
Please indicate “PICKUP” or “DELIVERY” in the Order Notes at the Checkout.


Newcomer Kitchen is a new project that invites groups of Syrian refugee women to use our kitchen to cook traditional Syrian dishes in a fun, social setting. Meals are prepared and packaged, and then sold online for pickup or delivery to pay for all the ingredients and provide an honorarium for the cooks.

We also offer 1 spot to help/hang out in the kitchen, learn the recipes and join the ladies for family meal on Thursday afternoon. We are asking for a $50 donation for this, which will go to topping up the $ we have to share with the cooks. This is available for purchase online, on a first-come, first-served basis.

Proceeds from the sale of meals goes directly to the newcomer cooks. However this does not cover the costs of the enormous amount of behind-the-scenes coordination required to keep this project going. You can support the Newcomer Kitchen project directly and our vision of expanding this model to support more women in more neighbourhoods!

Help us take this idea into any restaurant kitchen, in any city in the world!

Learn more about the Newcomer Kitchen project.

Cooking Can Be Both An Intimate And Communal Experience | RNR DOCS

Cooking Can Be Both An Intimate And Communal Experience

by Roam New Roads | Dec 5, 2016 | RNR DOCS

With over 30 years of experience in the restaurant industry, Jan O’Hearn is no amateur when it comes to knowing good food. After spending a year and a half in the Middle East, Jan became fascinated with Syrian culture—and food. Using a Canon Rebel T6i and her keen eye for detail, Jan takes close-up shots of the delicious meals made in Newcomer Kitchen (a kitchen space in Toronto offered to government-sponsored Syrian refugees) that she then uploads to Facebook. Sometimes the lovely smell emanating from the depanneur isn’t always enough to draw in customers and other like-minded women, which is why food photography is very important in this project. The communal cooking experience has much more meaning than what meets the eye. Watch the video to learn more about Jan and Newcomer Kitchen!


Syrian roundtable with Justin Trudeau at The Depanneur | CBC


For the one-year anniversary of the Syrian settlement, CBC Toronto’s Metro Morning gathered a group of newcomers as well as sponsors to reflect on the past year and discuss the road ahead in the heart of the Newcomer Kitchen.

See excerpts from the conversation in CBC’s special online feature, Far and Wide

CBC Metro Morning | Dec 5, 2016, Syrians meet the Prime Minister
CBC Metro Morning | Dec 6, 2016, Newcomer Kitchen (@ 20:00m)

Syrian newcomers tell Justin Trudeau what they need to succeed in Canada
Matt Galloway, Dwight Drummond on Justin Trudeau roundtable with Syrian newcomers
‘I’m proud to be here’: Syrian refugee has tearful reunion with Justin Trudeau
Justin Trudeau vows ‘significant improvements’ to refugee system
Trudeau talks Trump, politics

Perspective with Alison Smith | CPAC


Perspective with Alison Smith

by Alison Smith | December 4, 2016 | CPAC

CPAC’s foreign affairs show, Perspective with Alison Smith, examines events from around the world that matter to Canadians.

Perspective this week looks at how Syrian refugees have managed in the year since they came to Canada and what it is like now on the ground in Aleppo.

Alison speaks to CBC Reporter Margaret Evans on what it’s like on the ground in Aleppo. Michael Molloy, former foreign service officer and former Canadians Ambassador to Jordan speaks to Alison about the resettlement of Syrian Refugees in Canada as well as obstacles faced by newcomers to the country. The Newcomer Kitchen, a project in Toronto that invites newly-arrived Syrian refugee women to cook a weekly meal is also profiled.

Finally, Alison speaks to Goldy Hyder, co-founder of Century Initiative about the importance of growing Canada’s by increasing immigration in order to grow the economy.


NK is featured at 15:00, with additional closing remarks by Rahaf at the end of the segment

Canada : bienvenue aux réfugiés | Arte (France)


Alors que l’Europe, confrontée à une crise migratoire sans précédent, surveille ses frontières, le Canada, lui, organise le plus grand pont aérien de son histoire.

De Mathieu Bana, François Reinhardt et Yann Le Gléau – ARTE GEIE / What’s Up Productions – France 2016

En moins de trois mois, 25000 réfugiés syriens sont accueillis. Emmenées par le gouvernement de Justin Trudeau, les autorités dépêchent 600 fonctionnaires dans les camps de réfugiés au Liban, en Turquie et en Jordanie.

Hérité des années 70, le système des parrainages privés fait appel à la générosité populaire. Une mesure qui autorise les Canadiens à parrainer eux-mêmes les réfugiés. Pendant un an, sans aide sociale, les parrains s’engagent à trouver un logement, inscrire les enfants à l’école et subvenir aux besoins des familles.

Dans tout le pays, les intitatives se multiplient, le multiculturalisme, inscrit dans la constitution canadienne, prend tout son sens. Une exception dans cette partie du monde : le Canada pratique l’immigration choisie, vérifie l’identité de ceux qu’il accueille et détermine le moment de leur arrivée.

Read the whole article / Watch the full video

Newcomer Kitchen is featured at 19:00m

Newcomer Kitchen expands with a new Syrian pop-up brunch, prepared by refugees | NOW Magazine

After the success of The Depanneur’s weekly dinners, Mirvish Village developer Westbank steps up to sponsor a Syrian brunch event at Butler’s Pantry


“Instead of just selling your last sandwich, why not go down in a Thelma and Louise blaze of glory?”

That was the pitch to Atique Azad, the proprietor of the Butler’s Pantry, a 25-year old Mirvish Village institution set to close at the end of 2016 to make way for the development replacing Honest Ed’s.

He thought, “what have I got to lose?” And just like that, Canada’s first Syrian Brunch Pop-Up was born. And it’s a hot ticket. December 4 is already sold out.

It’s the first official spin-off from Toronto’s Newcomer Kitchen, a project co-founded by Cara Benjamin-Pace and Len Senater at College Street’s The Depanneur that specializes in unique food experiences. Since April, more than 55 Syrian newcomer women have cooked a wide range of traditional dishes, and in the process, put over $25,000 directly into Toronto’s newcomer community.

Because each weekly dinner consistently sold out, the next challenge was to tackle Toronto’s most iconic meal: Sunday Brunch. After months of testing, tinkering and tasting, what may be the first Syrian Brunch Pop-Up in the world is ready to be experienced by a handful of lucky Torontonians.

Read the whole article

Syrian refugees build community with cooking | THIS Magazine

Photo by J. Walton

Photo by J. Walton

Behind the scenes at the Newcomer Kitchen and Karam Kitchen in Ontario

by Amanda Scriver | 

It has been nearly one year since the Liberal government enacted a program to admit 25,000 Syrian refugees arrived in Canada. In their first year, many of the families faced several challenges to overcome: getting to know a brand new country, finding suitable accommodations, and trying to find a job in our country’s tough economic climate, all while facing systemic racism upon arrival. The resettlement process is not easy, and many are still trying to find their way here in Canada. While the Canadian government and private sponsors have helped—offering financial assistance, medical coverage, and housing—the biggest challenge many Syrians have faced is finding community.

Newcomer Kitchen Brunch at Butler’s Pantry


We invite you to join Newcomer Kitchen at Butler’s Pantry for Toronto’s first authentic Syrian brunch!

brought to you with the generous support of Westbank

This is the first official public Newcomer Kitchen spin-off project, in a trial-run, limited seating engagement. Come enjoy a lavish spread of traditional Syrian home cooking prepared by the talented cooks of Newcomer Kitchen.

Every Sunday until December 18 — SOLD OUT


Prix fixe menu — sold in pairs of 2 — $30 per person

11am, 12, 1 & 2 pm — Tickets must be purchased in advance
(note: each seating is for nearly 2 hours; no one wants to rush Sunday Brunch!)


Butler’s Pantry, 591 Markham Street, Toronto, ON M6G 2L7 View Map

Bottomless tea!

MEZE (all included, for sharing for 2 people)

Khabaz Saj
Warm flatbread prepared on the domed sag oven
With za’atar and olive oil for dipping

Homemade yogurt cheese balls cured in olive oil and seasoned nigella and sesame seed

Kebbeh Bel Sayniyeh
Baked bulgur dough stuffed with walnuts, potatoes, onions, tomato and pomegranate

Baba Ganouj
Smoky eggplant dip with tahini, pomegranate molasses, walnuts and pomegranate seeds

Salatet Na’ameh
Fresh salad of finely chopped tomato, cucumber & onion with lemon, olive oil and mint.

Mukhallat & Atun
Pickled turnips and wild cucumbers; sun-dried black olives spiced with herbs, lemon and Aleppo pepper

Selection of fresh vegetables to accompany the meal

MAINS (choice of one)

The Syrian version of the classic Middle Eastern shakshouka; sunny eggs cooked in a rich, chunky tomato sauce with garlic and olive oil.

Fattet Maqdoos
Crispy pita bread, topped with baked eggplant, yogurt- tahini sauce, caramelized onions, pine nuts & parsley. Vegetarian -or- with awarma (confit halal beef)

Beid bel Toum
Syrian hash! Eggs scrambled with potato and whole confit garlic cloves, garnished with pine nuts and herbs.
Vegetarian -or- with awarma (confit halal beef)

Salatet Sabaneh
Wilted spinach tossed with a warm sautée of chickpeas, mushrooms and onions, garnished with lemon & olive oil
Vegan -or- topped with an olive-oil fried egg.


Figs stuffed with walnuts & dates stuffed with almonds, with grape molasses and tahini for dipping.

Semolina and yogurt cake, topped with an almond and infused with orange blossom syrup

Buttery pistachio and sesame cookie

Beverages available a la carte | Gratuity not included




Butler’s Pantry + Newcomer Kitchen + Westbank

Newcomer Kitchen invites Syrian newcomer women to share their remarkable cooking skills through collaborations with local restaurants.

Butler’s Pantry has become a Toronto institution, serving international comfort foods since 1985.

Westbank is Canada’s leading residential and mixed-use real estate development company, committed to including affordable and social housing, non-profit community partnerships, and accessible public space in all of its projects.