Utahns dine 'around the world,' support refugees

Published: Sunday, Aug. 25 2013 8:47 a.m. MDT

Squatters executive chef Vicente Cardenas prepares a dish of Somali Tomato Linguini in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Aug. 24, 2013. Squatters is one of six participating restaurants where chefs will produce dishes using produce from refugee farmers who grow crops through the New Roots program.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Utahns this week have the opportunity to dine around the world without leaving Salt Lake City.

Chefs from six local restaurants are featuring refugee-inspired dishes on their menus as a fundraiser for the International Rescue Committee and the Utah Refugee Coalition. The fundraiser, which began Saturday, runs through Aug. 31.

The dishes contain produce grown at the New Roots community garden, which is farmed by refugees who have resettled in Salt Lake County.

Take the Somali Tomato Linguini, which is on the menu this week at Squatters Pub and Brewery this week.

The flavorful pasta dish includes tomatoes and green beans grown at the New Roots garden. The garden is a partnership among the IRC, Salt Lake County and the Utah Refugee Coalition.

Refugees who work the garden, which is located behind the Redwood Recreation Center, feed their families produce grown in the garden. The produce is also sold at local farmers markets.

The dish offered by Squatters was researched and created by executive chef Vicente Cardenas and James Soares, its director of social responsibility.

“It is vegetarian, but it is not vegan. It is one of the staples traditional Somalis would eat,” Squatters general manager Bill Saxton said. “We tried it this morning. It was delicious.”

This is the second year Squatters has participated in the Dining Around the World fundraiser benefitting the organizations that assist refugees, Saxton said.

“We just like to participate in relevant community events when it makes sense. This time it’s with IRC, New Roots and the Utah Refugee Coalition,” he said.

Not only does the event enable Squatters to support the community, it serves an educational purpose as the community — and employees of the restaurant group — learn more about refugees who resettle in Salt Lake City and the organizations that assist them.

Some 50,000 refugees have resettled in Salt Lake City since the end of the Vietnam War, according to the Utah Department of Workforce Services.

Bhutanese, Iraqi, Karen and Somali refugees are among the largest groups to be resettled in the state.

To further education about the cause, participating restaurants post fliers at the tables that describe the fundraiser and the organizations it supports.

Squatters’ servers also discuss the fundraiser with pub guests as they tell them the daily specials. Somali Tomato Linguini was also prominently displayed on the large dining room menu board.

Five other restaurants in Salt Lake City participating in the fundraiser include Caffé Niche, Mazza Middle Eastern Cuisine, Avenues Bistro on Third, Tin Angel Café and Café Trio.

International Rescue Committee’s Salt Lake operation has settled some 8,500 refugees since the office opened in 1994. Its primary mission is to help families uprooted by crisis to survive and rebuild their lives.

The Utah Refugee Coalition helps connect its members to partnering organizations, government agencies, volunteers and resources while educating the general public about refugees.

Email: marjorie@deseretnews.com

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