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Syrian Refugee Opens Pop-Up Restaurant In Bid to Save Children’s Hospital

Chef Imad Alarnab has opened Imad’s Choose Love Kitchen on Columbia Road in Hackney

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Chef Imad Alarnab at Imad’s Choose Love Kitchen in Shoreditch
Help Refugees [Official Photo]

A new pop-up kitchen, which has opened in Shoreditch, is aiming to raise funds for a children’s hospital in Syria. It is being run by Syrian refugee Imad Alarnab together with charity Help Refugees. Imad’s Choose Love Kitchen wants to invite customers to “experience the true taste of Syria.”

The pop-up kitchen is situated on east London’s famous flower market on Columbia Road, and is serving a traditional three-course Syrian meal, cooked by, what Help Refugees say is “one of the most famous chefs from Damascus.”

All the profits raised will be used to fund Hope Hospital, a children’s hospital that has saved thousands of lives in Syria’s Aleppo region.

In early 2016, Hope Hospital became the first ever crowdfunded hospital, providing incubators for new born babies, treatments for pregnant and post-natal women and lifesaving surgical operations to those injured in the conflict. It remains the only paediatric hospital in the Aleppo region, serving a community of over 250,000 people. However, the charity warns, in a month, if funds aren’t raised, the hospital will be forced to close.

Following the successful Choose Love Store pop-up in Soho, Help Refugees has teamed up with Alarnab in a bid to help save Hope Hospital.

Alarnab was a successful restaurateur in Damascus with two restaurants. However, during the war, his restaurants were destroyed, and the chef was forced to flee the country.

Alarnab, who has run a series of pop-up restaurants since his arrival in the UK, says he wants to raise money for “the people who really need it.” He added: “For years I have had this dream. From the day I left Syria until today, I wanted to use my cooking to bring people together to experience the true taste of Syria. This restaurant is about giving something back; to the people of Britain who have welcomed me; and to the people of Syria who really need our help right now.”

Josie Naughton, CEO of Help Refugees said: “The recent bombing campaigns in Syria have been absolutely atrocious and we knew we had to do something to help. Working with Imad, we wanted to create something positive amid the chaos. A place where the British public can see refugees contributing to the culture of Britain, and at the same time give people a simple, practical way to help those most in need.”

The restaurant will be fully staffed by Help Refugees volunteers.

To visit, customers can buy a ticket online for £40; there will be two sittings for 20 people per night (and two per day on Sundays). Tables are turned after an hour and a half. The pop-up also operates a BYO policy and asks for a £5 corkage donation that will go directly to Hope Hospital. Diners have also been told they “can also expect surprise celebrity staff, events and special promotions.”

The restaurant will run from 28 March until the end of April, but, the organisers say, if fully-booked “Imad and Help Refugees plan to extend their stay for at least another month.”

Imad’s Choose Love Kitchen 

134 Columbia Road, London , E2 7RG Visit Website