Cook for Syria

In an industry that can often seem to be a champion of decadence, it is so heartening to see a movement to show that the restaurant biz is actually all heart. From the incredible conversations around food waste, sustainability and mental health at the Food and Drink Symposium (FADS WA) earlier this year, to the renewed consciousness of supporting local growers and suppliers, the bodies behind Australia’s most successful eating establishments are making sure that they have a positive impact on the world. Bunbury’s own Market Eating House is no exception, as their August “Cook for Syria” dinner put love on the table, in both the cooking and the causes of owners Brenton and Bec Pyke. 

A little background - the ongoing conflict in Syria has caused the largest humanitarian crisis since World War 2, with millions forced to flee their homes to escape the violence. Despite the fact that fifty percent of these refugees are children, many countries have closed their doors to the displaced. UNICEF does the vital work of delivering emergency supplies, protection and support to millions of children caught in the line of fire and living on the move, using funds raised by the Syria Crisis Appeal. “Cook for Syria” is an international initiative started by Clerkenwell Boy and SUITCASE Magazine as a means to bring that cause to the people of the world, and to celebrate and preserve Syrian culture. 

To that end, the team at Market brought forth a beautiful menu inspired by traditional Syrian cuisine - it was rustic but elegant food, so tasty that not a morsel was left behind (at our table, at least!). The meal began with a wood fired village bread that was sprinkled with za’atar spices and a morish Muhammara dip, followed by BBQ haloumi cheese, and a tender and flavoursome portion of Northwest squid with harissa and pearl-like cous cous. We chose to start with a beautiful resiling from Talisman, although there were also whites available generously donated by Barton Jones, Saint Aiden, Green Door and Willowbridge Wineries, as well as the Market house red and white. 

Next to arrive at our table was the Baharat spiced lamb leg and marinated zucchini - tender slivers of rare cooked lamb perfectly complimented by a vinegar ‘zing’ from the marinade - as well as sides of braised beans with tomato, lemon, almond and sumac, and fragrant rice with vermicelli, cinnamon and pine nuts. At this point in the meal, we moved from wine to cider, with the natural acidity of Custard & Co’s original cider the right match with the sweetness of the meat, beans and rice. Both Custard and Colonial Brewing Co also donated their product to the cause, as all drinks sold raised the tally higher. The whole beautiful experience was completed with a creamy Halawa orange parfait - Halawa is a dense, sweet confection served across the Middle East (you might also know it as halva) - sprinkled with pretty edible rose petals. 

It should also be noted that the entire Market team worked the event for free, to allow every single cent to be donated. And that grand total, announced at the end of the evening, was incredible - $5704.10 will go to the Syria Crisis Appeal, to further the important work they do. This is so much more than a “cause celeb”, something with positive PR value for famous chefs and restauranteurs - it’s a global enterprise that spreads the message of love, so that the people of Syria continue to be reminded that the rest of the world cares. If you would like to add to the tally Market raised, you can visit www.unicef.org.au and donate directly - we encourage you to get involved!

Elle DixonComment