Immigrant-owned restaurants host 'food diplomacy' meals

- Safari Restaurant on 116th Street in Harlem, serves up Somali culture one steaming dish at a time. It serves a mix of locals and tourists who come for authentic Somali flavors. And this weekend it will host a group called Breaking Bread NYC.

"It's food diplomacy," said Jeff Orlick, who helped start Breaking Bread.

He is of one several local food tour guides who came together after President Trump issued his executive order on immigration and refugees. Their goal is to spotlight businesses owned by immigrants from the seven countries listed in the ban. They hope to foster community and intercultural understanding over Syrian pastries and Somalian stews.

"The best thing we can do is introduce people to these cultures just by eating," Orlick said. "We know that if someone shares a plate that's a great way of understanding."

Each week Breaking Bread plans to release new food maps of restaurants from the countries included in the ban.

The first event over the weekend drew 80 people to downtown Brooklyn for a tour of Yemeni and Syrian spots. This weekend the group will hold tours in Bay Ridge and the Bronx and a dinner party in Harlem.

"I think it's a great idea," said Safari restaurant owner Shakib Farah, who immediately agreed to participate after Breaking Bread reached out.

Farah came to the United States as a refugee himself 15 years ago and has family impacted by the ban. He looks forward to hosting 30 diners for a Breaking Bread dinner party Saturday night. 

"The contribution of Somali people here in New York or America it's very positive, and it should be seen that way," Farah said.

Breaking Bread originally set out to host events at immigrant-owned restaurants for the 90 days the travel restrictions were set to be in effect, but with the ban now in legal limbo the group says it will continue planning events indefinitely.

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