News / Calgary

Refugee chef bringing taste of Syria to Calgary

Syrian Cuisine Made with Love has big dreams for the future

Rita Khanchat busy at work in her kitchen cooking traditional Syrian cuisine, with lots of love.

Kenneth Applebee / For Metro

Rita Khanchat busy at work in her kitchen cooking traditional Syrian cuisine, with lots of love.

Rita Khanchat said the most important ingredient in any recipe is love. 

After coming to Calgary as a refugee from Syria three months ago, Khanchat, a broadcast engineer by trade, said she knew she needed to find something temporary to do for work while she upgraded her English and education here in Canada. 

“I know the wait is long, maybe years,” she said. “We have priorities for our life and the first one is to find something so we can survive, and we think this project will be good and enough for us.”

Fateh : A traditional Syrian dish, usually bought at a vendor and eaten on Friday's as a way to celebrate the weekend (which is only one day, Friday, each week).

Kenneth Applebee

Fateh : A traditional Syrian dish, usually bought at a vendor and eaten on Friday's as a way to celebrate the weekend (which is only one day, Friday, each week).

The project Khanchat speaks of is a small catering company called Syrian Cuisine Made With Love. Currently, she is running her business and doing all of the cooking from her basement apartment, but she has big dreams for it. 

“Most of the Syrian refugee women come here with no skills and no education—because they spent the last five years living in a tent in a refugee camp,” she said. “I think if we grow we can bring them to help us and help them depend on themselves.”

Najway Habod, a friend and volunteer for the Syrian Refugee Support Group (SRSG), said she thinks building the company is a great idea.

“We want to give encouragement for other ladies to gain independence,” she said. “Many of them relied on men back home, but have lost their husbands in the war and are here alone, so if we are able to grow the business it would help them because they wouldn’t need education to cook.”

Rita Khanchat/ Syrian Cuisine Made With Love

Kenneth Applebee / For Metro

Rita Khanchat/ Syrian Cuisine Made With Love

Khanchat said food is a universal language that builds community and units people, no matter where they are from. She said she’s brought traditional Syrian dishes to the SRSG warehouse and fed volunteers, and their reactions have been amazing. 

“Syrian people already know this food so I tried to invite Canadians and other nationalities to try,” she said. “One Canadian told me it is different from anything they ever tasted before, ‘it’s delicious’ they said.”

Although Syrian Cuisine Made With Love is already fielding many orders, they want your business too. To learn more or to make an order call Rita at: 587-719-8006 or visit their Facebook Syrian Cuisine Made With Love.

The sauce the rice will soak in to flavour the kabseh, a traditional Syrian rice and chicken dish.

Kenneth Applebee / For Metro

The sauce the rice will soak in to flavour the kabseh, a traditional Syrian rice and chicken dish.

To learn more about the SRSG visit: www.yycsyr.ca