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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.

February 10, 2019

The Sixth Dinner

  

In benefit of HIAS Pennsylvania

HIAS Pennsylvania provides legal and supportive services to immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers from all backgrounds in order to assure their fair treatment and full integration into American society. The organization also advocates for just and inclusive public policies and practices.

 
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.

 

February 10, 2019

The Sixth Dinner

 

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

 

Chefs

Alvino Castillo
Oyster House

Alvino Castillo first migrated to the United States in 1997 from San Mateo Ozolco, a pueblo in Mexico. After a short time in New York City and Philadelphia, Castillo returned to Mexico until 2000, when he decided to permanently stay in the United States. He started working as a cook at the former Meritage, followed by a position at Xóchitl before joining the kitchen at Oyster House in 2009, where he has remained since. There, Castillo experiments with ingredients and food combinations inspired both by his own heritage and other cultures. One of Castillo’s earliest influences and biggest inspirations is his mother—who, as a child, Castillo watched create great meals of different colors and textures.

Michael Solomonov
Zahav

Michael Solomonov is the executive chef and co-owner of Philadelphia’s pioneering Israeli restaurant, Zahav. He is the 2011 James Beard Award winner for “Best Chef, Mid-Atlantic”, a 2016 James Beard Award winner for “Best International Cookbook” and “Book of the Year” for his and business partner/co-author Steven Cook’s first cookbook, Zahav: A World of Israeli Cooking, and the 2017 James Beard Award’s “Outstanding Chef.” In 2018, Zahav was recognized by Food & Wine as one of “The 40 Most Important Restaurants of the Past 40 Years.”

In additions to his duties at Zahav, Solomonov co-owns Philadelphia’s Federal Donuts, Dizengoff, Abe Fisher, Goldie, and the philanthropic The Rooster, which donates 100 percent of its profits to Broad Street Ministry Hospitality Collaborative that provides meals and essential services to individuals experiencing homelessness and hunger in Philadelphia In 2017, Solomonov and the Israel Ministry of Tourism (IMOT) created a partnership to champion Israel’s extraordinarily diverse and vibrant culinary landscape.

Yehuda Sichel
Abe Fisher

Yehuda Sichel is the executive chef and partner of Abe Fisher, a restaurant from James Beard Award-winning restaurateurs Michael Solomonov and Steven Cook of CookNSolo Restaurants inspired by the journey of the Jewish people from their ancestral homeland to the Diaspora.

Sichel came to work for Chef Solomonov at Zahav in 2010, quickly rising to the rank of sous chef. Four years later, he began making his own culinary mark at the helm of Abe Fisher, cooking a menu that speaks to the Jews’ movement across Europe throughout the Middle Ages — paying homage to centuries of tradition while embracing the idea that cultural exchange places cuisine in a continuous state of evolution.

Abe Fisher has earned a 3-Bell “Excellent” review from the Philadelphia Inquirer, citing Sichel’s signature dish of Montreal Smoked Short Ribs as the “Feast of The Year” in 2014. That same year, Food Republic called the dish “smoked meat nirvana,” and Zagat named Sichel as one of 30 “Rock Stars Redefining the Industry” in Philadelphia. Abe Fisher was named “Best New Restaurant” in the January 2015 issue of Travel + Leisure, and the restaurant earned a semifinalist nomination in the 2015 James Beard Awards’ “Best New Restaurant” category.

Reem Kassis
Author of The Palestinian Table

Reem Kassis is a Palestinian writer and author of the James Beard nominated cookbook The Palestinian Table. She was born and raised in Jerusalem, where she spent days in her grandmothers’, mother’s, and aunts’ kitchens observing and soaking up everything there was to know about Palestinian cooking.

A graduate of The Wharton School and the London School of Economics, Reem is a social psychologist and business consultant by training. At heart, however, she is a cook and a writer, and today she is using the power of food, family, and storytelling to preserve the rich culinary traditions of Palestinians and share them with the world.

Her first book, The Palestinian Table, was endorsed by Anthony Bourdain and named one of NPR’s best books of 2017 and has been featured in The New York Times, New York Magazine, Saveur, food52, Travel + Leisure, and Departures. It was the first Palestinian cookbook ever nominated for a James Beard Award, was shortlisted for the Andre Simon Award and The Edward Stanford Award, and won The Guild of Food Writers First Book Award.

Kurt Evans
South

Born and raised in Philadelphia, Kurt Evans found a culinary spark cooking southern style dishes alongside his grandmothers as a child. Since then, he’s honed his skills in some of Philadelphia’s most esteemed kitchens. Evans has cooked professionally for over 12 years and continues to learn innovative cooking techniques and creative recipes.

Evans currently ventures in several projects, including Kulture, a collaborative dinner series featuring lineups of emerging Black American chefs. This dinner series explores ways to enhance opportunities for African-American chefs and bring people together to talk about creating more equal opportunity in the food industry.

He also uses his culinary skills to rally a community around ending mass incarceration. Through the EMI dinner series, Evans is bringing awareness to and garnering solutions for a pressing community issue. Today, Evans is sous chef at SOUTH, a restaurant with a refined menu highlighting traditional, authentic dishes with new takes on Southern fare.

Davina Soondrum
Lacroix

Born in Trinidad to a Jamaican mother and Mauritian father and raised mostly in Philadelphia, Davina Soondrum graduated from culinary school in 2006 with a desire to pursue confectionery. With establishments such as Franklin Fountain, Shane Confectionery, Bistrot La Minette, and Lacroix at the Rittenhouse Hotel on her resume, Davina remains an affectionately self-titled “sugar pusher”.

You can find Soondrum’s work in outlets ranging from The Food Network to Martha Stewart Living. In the near future, she will be published in a stunning photo series book by Chris Crisman Photography entitled “Women’s Work,” which will focus on the unique careers of women in what was once considered to be male dominated industries. In her free time, Soondrum has a pet confectionery project called Hey Sugar in the works to satisfy almost every kind of sweet tooth. But mostly, she just works so her fur child, ZoZo, can stay rolling in treats.

JC Piña
Cafe Ynez

Bloomsday Cafe
Bloomsday Cafe

Soon to open in Headhouse Square, Bloomsday Cafe will be an all-day neighborhood cafe from Green Engine Coffee owners Zach Morris and Kelsey Bush serving fine local fare, with a natural wine bar and bottle shop helmed by beverage director Tim Kweeder (formerly of Kensington Quarters).

Ben Wenk
Three Springs Fruit Farm

Ben WenkBen Wenk is a seventh generation fruit grower in Adams County, Pennsylvania where his family owns Three Springs Fruit Farm, makers of Ploughman Cider. Ben earned an Agroecology degree from Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences in 2006. Shortly after, he expanded the diversity of crops grown at Three Springs to support trips to regional farmers markets and local stores and restaurants. Late 2016 saw the debut of Ploughman Cider, a new venture to express the best of the farm through fermentation.

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.