Jun 30, 2020 Community

Celebrating Immigrant Heritage Month

In honor of Immigrant Heritage Month, we’re highlighting cultural heritage and the immigrant experience through our restaurant partners’ eyes. This month and every month, we invite you to hear their stories, celebrate their contributions, share their perspectives, and support the Kitchens Without Borders businesses that enrich our communities.

Here’s a delicious way to support immigrant-led restaurants in your community. For every order placed with a Kitchens Without Borders restaurant, we’ll donate $1 to Black Alliance for Just Immigration,* an organization that educates and engages African-American and Black immigrant communities to advocate for racial, social, and economic justice. Simply search “KWB” in the DoorDash app and enter code BAJI at checkout, now through July 1.

Behind every kitchen is a human story.
Below, we share personal reflections from some of the KWB restaurant owners on DoorDash.

DD: Why the restaurant industry?

“We’re the only Jamaican-Caribbean restaurant within a 100-mile radius. I have people that come from an hour away. This is not the most diverse area, but certainly, an area that’s open to diversity.”

–Gail Somers, Yahso Jamaican Grille, Keene, NH

Gail Somers with customers at her restaurant.

DD: What does immigrant heritage mean to you?

“Restaurants have been where immigrants made a living and showed off the cooking of their heritage. Today, immigrants are the cultural fuel and the vitality of America’s food industry.”

–Enrique Limardo, Immigrant Food, Washington D.C.

DD: How do you carry on your family’s tradition?

“They say every cook stands on the shoulders of the previous generation. It’s rare these days that someone invents from scratch — we always recycle recipes and make it a little better, but the base is there. I learned Tunisian cooking from my mother and I learned restaurant technique from my father. I brought to it what I learned in my life, the different dishes, the different countries, the trends in California.”

–Alain Cohen, Got Kosher?, Los Angeles, CA

Alain Cohen

DD: Why did you move to the U.S.?

“My family had to escape from Southeast Asia because our freedom was taken away from us due to war and communism. I love the US because you have the freedom to do what you’re capable of and the available resources and support to get you there.”

–Mary Aregoni, Saigon Sisters, Chicago, IL

DD: What traditions do you continue to follow?

“India is a land of many cultural nuances and traditions. The one we continue to carry with us and share with our daughters is the value of family, friends and connectedness. The whole is greater than the one. Food plays well into this value as often we come together and share life over meals.”

–Ali Dewjee, Bombay Wraps, Chicago, IL

DD: What motivates you?
“Initially I wanted to make sure my family has a better life because struggling in America and not having anything growing up, it’s really tough. Turns out, that everything we’d done, we became successful, that now we have to give back. When the community is having a really tough time, it only makes sense to figure out ways that we can help our community.”

–Tee Tran, Monster Pho, Oakland, CA

Tee Tran with his mom

DD: What is a must-try dish from your country?

“We love all Greek food, if it’s good it’s made fresh and plentiful. You can never just try one Greek dish. Have you ever been to a Greek person’s house and left without a plate to go? Probably not.”

–Harry and Christina Karountzos, Modern Grill, Chicago, IL

DD: What traditions do you still enjoy?

“Although we are in America, our family still retains our Vietnamese culture and identity. For example, we can still speak, read, and write in Vietnamese as well as celebrating traditional Vietnamese holidays and of course cooking authentic Vietnamese dishes.”

–Dao Tran, Pho Hue Oi Vietnamese Kitchen, Redondo Beach, CA

DD: What do you love most about the U.S.?

“I love the United States — the diversity, sharing of cultures, and opportunities to meet and collaborate with so many beautiful and talented people.”

–Tony Hyde, Sattdown Jamaican Grill, Los Angeles, CA

Tony Hyde

DD: Why did you move to the US? What traditions remain?

“I came here in 1994 to escape genocide. I continue to enjoy the tradition of family meals.”

–Goran Vejzovic, Tono Pizzeria + Cheesesteaks, Minneapolis, MN

DD: Why did you open a restaurant?

“Food brings people together and back home, there’s an emphasis around family and community. I’ve shared so many wonderful memories with friends and family over a delicious meal. This is what I hope to bring to my customers through my restaurant.”

–Jamel Bouzidi, Fayala, San Francisco, CA

DD: What do you miss about where you’re from?

“The food! The street stalls. The temples. My Thai friends and family.”

–Wittaya Saengsrichan, Thai on the Fly, Boston, MA

DD: What’s your secret for preserving authenticity in your cuisine?

“Twice a year, I will go to Ethiopia and bring back maybe 10 suitcases worth of spices, specifically the dried peppers that we use. They aren’t really grown here, and even if they were, they wouldn’t taste like the ones back home. It’s actually pretty costly and important to me not to sacrifice the integrity of the food.”

–Zeni Gebremariam, Zeni Ethiopian, San Jose, CA

Zeni Gebremariam

DD: What are you most grateful for today?

“To be able to dream, conceptualize, and open my own restaurant on a shoestring budget and make it a community favorite for the last 22 years.”

–Sanjeev Pandey, The Indian Harvest, Naperville, IL

Today, Kitchens Without Borders includes over 800 restaurant locations across the U.S. and Canada, owned by entrepreneurs from over 90 different countries. Merchants who are interested in joining can sign up here.

Questions? Contact [email protected]

*Link to offer terms: https://drd.sh/YO9iAG/