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A Dinner Series

Muhibbah

Muhibbah is a Malay term that describes the pure harmony of multiple races, religions and cultures coming together in the spirit of peace and tolerance. In Malaysia, we use this word to characterize celebrations shared between those of different backgrounds.

The Muhibbah Dinner Series provides a unique opportunity to come together in fellowship over food. In the vibrant culinary capital of Philadelphia, chefs — amateur and professional alike — seek to share their unique global cuisines with individuals eager to learn. Our communal meals, built around culture and conversation, celebrate true diversity: the differences, and similarities, that help America thrive.

Our Mission

Over food, we serve as an occasion to celebrate the diverse immigrant communities that have built and continue to inspire this nation.

info@muhibbahdinners.org

 

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Beneficiary

Beneficiary

In searching for organizations to sponsor, we want to ensure that the highest percentage of each dollar donated goes directly to supporting immigrants and refugees in Philadelphia. The donors we’ve chosen for each dinner represent our commitment to this goal.

October 23, 2018

The Fifth Dinner

  

In benefit of Puentes de Salud

The mission of Puentes de Salud is two-fold: First, to partner with Philadelphia’s rapidly growing Latino immigrant community to build long-term prosperity by addressing immediate education, health and social service needs. Second, to create a responsible learning environment for future generations of advocates, educators, healthcare providers to examine social determinants of health, social justice and structural violence in practice and to explore their impact on the social determinants of health within a marginalized community.

 
The Dinner

The Dinner

Our dinners are designed to occur in a communal setting, with each meal comprising dishes that showcase the different backgrounds and cultures our invited chefs hail from. Every dinner will vary in location, cuisine, and community. In the spirit of Muhibbah, we request that our guests enter each restaurant with an empty belly, an open mind, and a full heart. As you share your meal with others around you, relish the occasion as one that America needs but yet is increasingly fleeting: reach across the table and ask your fellow diners about what inspires them, and what you can do to help make them feel more welcome in our melting pot.

 

October 23, 2018

The Fifth Dinner

 

Seats are limited and non-refundable
Doors open at 6:30pm
Dinner commences at 7pm

 

Chefs

Damon Menapace
Le Virtù and Brigantessa

Damon Menapace is the Executive Chef of Le Virtù and Brigantessa, in charge of all daily operations at the former and menu development at the latter. He opened and ran Fishtown’s Kensington Quarters and oversaw several other restaurants as part of the 13th Street Kitchens restaurant group. At Kensington Quarters, he established a citywide reputation for eclectic, fun, and above all delicious menus with broad appeal and no pretense. His butchering and meat curing skills, which informed an integral part of KQ’s identity, are known throughout Philly and have allowed Le Virtù to expand its menu and commitment to sustainable and locally raised meats. Damon’s first professional Italian cooking experiences were as part of the Vetri Family, working as a Sous at Osteria and then opening Alla Spina as its original Chef. His roots are in rustic Italian cooking (and his familial line traces to “the boot” as well). At Le Virtù he explores his passion for the simple, ingredient-driven cuisine of rural Italy, using the best local and imported ingredients.

James and Jason Mills
The Spicy Belly

Brothers, James and Jason Mills, are originally from New York City and bring their culinary vision and their take on a new cuisine to the Philadelphia area. James is a self-taught chef with primary focus on Jamaican and Korean cuisine. This magical food combination arose from their multiracial parents, with their mother being from South Korea and their father from Jamaica. Fueled by their parents’ home cooking, two brothers expanded their culinary visions and created an establishment to highlight their multicultural cuisine. After an eye-opening trip to Jamaica in 2011, the bold idea to bring their unique background to the table was born. Living in the nearby neighborhood of Manayunk, James and Jason saw this neighborhood as a forefront to introduce their food culture to its Philly natives.

Sofia Deleon
El Merkury

Sofia Deleon immigrated from Guatemala to East Lansing, Michigan 10 years ago to pursue a BA in Food Industry management. However, her passion for food started at a much younger age. In high school she sold homemade ice creams and started a small catering company with dreams of owning of a restaurant of her own. After earning her BA, and then MBA in Food Marketing, Deleon has realized that dream.

Earlier this year, Deleon opened El Merkury, broken Spanish for The Market, a Central American street food and churro-bar restaurant in Center City. The food is based on the Mayan staples of corn, beans, chiles, and chocolate and has influences of Spanish cuisine, all translated into a fast casual menu. In addition to the savory food and churros, El Merkury has a retail section that features handmade goods whose profits support Micro-loans for indigenous women in Guatemala. It was named Best Fast Casual by Philly Mag a couple months after it opened.

Alice Leung
My Soy Café

Alice Leung is chef-owner of Soy Café, established 2004. Leung brings a variety of cuisines to her restaurant, located in Philadelphia’s Northern Liberties neighborhood. Chef Alice is a graduate of New York’s Institute for Integrative Nutrition. Being a health advocate, Alice is a plant-based wellness chef who provides holistic and wholesome meals for her clients.

Originally from Hong Kong, the food paradise of Asia, Chef Alice blends many cultures to create healthy and tasty food for her clients. Flavor profiles are often based on simple seasonings with herbs and plants, including hearty greens, grains, and blending traditional plant-based fare with a modern twist.

Ana Caballero
Fork and High Street on Market

The daughter of American and Honduran parents who met in the Peace Corps and went on to run a restaurant in South America, Caballero learned kitchen skills at a very young age. With a special interest in sustainability, she focused on this subject while earning a Masters in Food Studies in Italy. Upon completion, she moved to Philadelphia and worked in kitchens and eventually built her current role as the Kitchen Manager at Fork and High Street on Market where for the past years she has focused on improving local sourcing, reducing food waste, and managing food costs.

In addition, Caballero has worked as a research intern at the Nordic Food Lab, as an instructor with Drexel University’s Culinary Arts & Food Sciences department and sits on the board of the James Beard Food Waste Advisory Committee.

Han Chiang
Han Dynasty

Han Chiang is the owner of Han Dynasty, the Philly founded Sichuan Chinese restaurant with 10 locations between Pennsylvania and New York. Outspoken and full of stories about Chinese culture and cuisine, he’s burned the mouths of everyone from Anthony Bourdain to David Schwimmer.

Born in Taiwan, Han moved to Lancaster, Pennsylvania when he was 13 years old. He attended Drexel University in Philadelphia and was kicked out. He worked as an IT tech for a law firm in Philadelphia before going back to work in his mother’s flower shop. It was there he decided to open his own Chinese restaurant, focusing on authentic cuisine from his father’s native Sichuan.

Han opened his first restaurant in 2008 in Exton, PA. In his first year he was named to the Top 50 restaurants in Philly by Philadelphia Magazine. In 2010 He opened his first restaurant in the city, gaining immediate notoriety and being named the 12th best restaurant in Philadelphia. From there he went on to open 6 total locations in Philadelphia and 4 in New York City.

Han has been featured on various show’s such as Anthony Bourdain’s The Layover as well as two episodes of VICE Munchies. Known for his outspoken views and obsession with customer service, Han can be found nightly schmoozing up his customers at one of his various locations.

Varnana Beuria
Chhaya Cafe

Chef Varnana “V” Beuria made her creative mark on South Philadelphia when she opened Chhaya Cafe in 2010. Her philosophy is simple: Provide delicious, uncomplicated food that comforts and delights. But her innovative and passionate approach to her food is far from simple; Chef V transforms popular fare into interesting, delicious, and flavorful dishes. Her menu draws its inspiration from local favorites and international classics. Her belief is that a meal should warm the heart and draw people together — and that her creations are as much about connecting and community as they are about ingredients.

Prior to opening Chhaya, Chef V developed her culinary expertise and practiced her creativity in the kitchens of several Philadelphia businesses, including Frog Commissary, Urban Outfitters, Tria Cafe, and Marathon Grill.

After having lived in seven different countries and traveling the globe, South Philly is where Chef V has made her home. She lives in the Passyunk Square neighborhood, is actively involved in the community, and is the treasurer of the East Passyunk Avenue Business Improvement District.

Kenneth Bush
Bistrot La Minette

Kenneth Bush grew up cooking by his mother’s side. Though he originally intended on training as a chef, he couldn’t turn down his acceptance to Yale University. After graduating Yale in 2001 he managed restaurants in Maryland and Washington DC. In 2009 he moved to Philadelphia and changed his focus to the kitchen. Here in Philly he spent three years with Bistrot La Minette, working his way up from the garde-manger station to the lead sous chef. In 2011 he won the prestigious Questlove Cook Off. In 2012 he left the bistrot to work for Garces Trading Company as a sous chef. In January 2014 he returned to Bistrot La Minette as the Executive Chef.

Ange Branca
Saté Kampar

Angelina Branca

Ange grew up in her grandmother’s kitchen where she learned the traditional techniques of Malaysian cooking, a cuisine that bears the influence of multiple cultures dating back to the 14th century when Malaysia was a spice trading hub. Though she grew up in a culinary family, she spent the first part of her career in business consulting, which landed her in the US. After years of living abroad, her nostalgia for the flavors of home coupled with what she perceived as a dying appreciation for humble Malaysian cuisine back home inspired Ange to open Saté Kampar, a restaurant focusing on saté (skewered meat grilled on coconut shell charcoal) and traditional Malaysian cooking made from scratch. The restaurant quickly became one of Philly’s top restaurants and was nominated for the James Beard Award.

The diversity of food and culture that Ange grew up with in Malaysia inspired the Muhibbah Dinners. From the open kitchen at Saté Kampar, she watches diners from different backgrounds enjoy dinner served in both halal and non-halal preparations: everyone feeling at home, comfortable and happy. The true feeling of Muhibbah — when people of multiple cultures, races and religions come together in peace and tolerance — is best appreciated when a good meal is shared. Ange started Muhibbah Dinners to bring together chefs of different backgrounds and cultures to celebrate the diversity with diners in Philadelphia.