• Some of the meals available for purchase from ASRC Catering. (ASRC)Source: ASRC
The Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC) in Melbourne has just launched a new service delivering curry, tagine and dhal to your door. And by buying a meal, you will also help somebody in need.
By
Audrey Bourget

15 Jun 2020 - 9:51 AM  UPDATED 6 Jul 2020 - 8:56 AM

"My dream is to open a small restaurant and start over again. In my home country, I was running a catering business mostly for weddings and other events. We would cook in huge pots and make enough to feed 800 guests," says Jenny.

She is one of the asylum seekers working for the ASRC Catering branch, which has recently launched a new home-delivered meal service.

Not everybody working there has a background in hospitality, but their various skills make for a strong team. Patrick is a trained psychologist who hopes to be practising again one day in Australia. "I love working at ASRC Catering, I feel at home here.

"Working with other people seeking asylum is great because I feel like we are in the same boat. We share the same problems, so when I talk about an issue with someone they can understand because they're probably going through the same thing," he says.

Patrick

The social enterprise has been running since 2005, employing asylum seekers to cook and serve food at functions. When orders dried off at the beginning of the pandemic, they started working on a new meal service.

"It creates a continuous work path, stability and a stable income during these times," explains ASRC Catering head chef and mentor Brett Kuhne. "We have key people in the kitchen, who have a natural fair with spices and ingredients. They are the one coming up with the dishes and we facilitate the day-to-day and sourcing of ingredients."

Currently, you can choose from a selection of seven dishes, including Moroccan root vegetable tagine with mohgrabieh couscous, Persian pomegranate and eggplant fessenjun and a South Indian curry with pumpkin and lentils.

A HELPING HAND
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Instead of closing during the pandemic, Colombo Social has enlisted top chefs to feed asylum seekers and other vulnerable members of society.

Kuhne says, "We have multiple nationalities who have different ethos, backgrounds and beliefs. It's a very complex place at times, and a very happy and simple place at the same time.

"The food we do represents the homeland of these people who seek asylum and refugee status. We try to replicate the food as best as we can by involving them as much as possible."

"The food we do represents the homeland of these people who seek asylum and refugee status. We try to replicate the food as best as we can by involving them as much as possible."

Dishes are healthy and vibrant, made with locally sourced ingredients. They are all vegan and most are nut-free and gluten-friendly.

Once you've ordered online, meals can be picked up from the ASRC Catering kitchen in Fitzroy North or delivered straight to your door (in a 20km radius and with a $50 minimum order). They are packaged to be kept in the fridge for up to three days, or frozen to eat later. 

Root vegetable tagine with Moghrabieh couscous.

The cost of each meal you order through ASRC Catering also covers another meal that will be provided to a person seeking asylum.

And while the pandemic was the trigger for the launch of this new meal service, it looks like it could be here to stay permanently. "There's no reason it wouldn't or shouldn't stay," says Kuhne. "It offers more opportunities for people to have employment, and we have already received very positive feedback from the public."

The cooks of the Fitzroy North ASRC Catering kitchen are also keeping busy by preparing meals for the ASRC Foodbank in Footscray, which you can support by donating here.

GREAT NEIGHBOURS
These flatmates are feeding the community from their doorstep
The Newtown Blessing Box began with a recycled cupboard and some tins. Now it's feeding the community and inspiring people across Sydney.

If you have an event later in the year, the catering part of the initiative is on hold for the moment, but they are still taking orders and should be back operating by the end of July.

Order your take-home meals for pick-up or delivery.
Donate to the ASRC Foodbank.
Enquire about event catering.

Love the story? Follow the author here: Instagram @audreybourget and Twitter @audreybourget

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