Immigrant Business Spotlight: Tables Without Borders

Tables Without Borders Bridges Gives Opportunity to Refugee Chefs

Blog by LSSNCA guest blogger, Zoya Makkar

To immerse herself into refugee culture, Sara Abdel-Rahim spent a year abroad in a Greek refugee camp. After interacting with hundreds of refugees from around the world, she witnessed their unmatched passion and talent in the culinary arts. Their aptitude for cuisine, however, wasn’t being retailed in the countless Greek restaurants around them.

Refugees arrive in their host country with minimal contacts and job prospects, so working in a career they are passionate about is often a dubious dream. That is, until Sara sought to connect passionate refugees with the culinary industry.

She founded Tables Without Borders — a non-profit that connects refugee chefs to paid culinary internships at local restaurants. Culminating the restaurant internship is a week-long dinner series that takes place on each night of World Refugee Week; the public can experience Middle Eastern cuisines from refugee chefs. In 2019, five restaurants participated in the dinner series and sold out as soon as they were listed.

Tables Without Borders not only provides chefs with experience in the culinary industry, but it fosters a cultural exchange between the newcomer and their host country community. The food that refugees in America once grew up with, now becomes a bridge between differing cultures. Sara says “food is the great equalizer. It’s something you make with love… you don’t need to speak the same language when you are cooking.”


Restaurants – By partnering with TWB, your restaurant will host a culinary internship for a talented refugee or asylum-seeker and a TWB dinner. Their popular dinners are a great way of attracting new customers and building community around your tables. Potential diners – Do you want to support refugees and asylum-seekers in your community? By attending a TWB dinner, you will enjoy an authentic and delicious meal while helping your neighbor pursue a career in the culinary arts. For more info get in touch with Tables Without Border now!

For more information on how to hire LSSNCA refugee and immigrant clients visit our website and fill out our employment inquiry form. If you are a refugee, SIV holder, asylee, or protected status immigrant living in Maryland or Virginia and are within 5 years of arrival/status provision and you need help finding employment, check out LSSNCA’s workforce development program.

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