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'We must support each other': Cooking school offers free meals to those worst hit by shutdowns

Bashar Krayem. Source: TCS

Sydney cooking school owner Bashar Krayem believes “now is not the time to think about business, instead, it’s a time to work together and unite as one”.

The Lebanese-Australian runs The Culinary School in Punchbowl, which recently stopped running cooking classes due to government measures to curb the spread of coronavirus.

He tells SBS Arabic24 that seeing how the crisis has put thousands of people out of work, he decided to launch a social initiative to prepare affordable meals for individuals and families who have fallen on hard times due to unemployment, or people in self-isolation.

For the task, he’s transformed his premises into a makeshift production kitchen, where orders are delivered.

As part of the kitchen's new business model, he says meals are provided free of charge for people who cannot afford them.

“It’s a very difficult time in Australia and abroad. It’s the best opportunity for us to stick together, work together and support each other as much as we can.

“On a business level, we tried our best to innovate ideas on how to keep the business moving forward, but we realised that this time is not the time to think business. Instead, it’s a time to work together and unite as one. Everyone is living through stress and anxiety with the unknown.

Receiving free food from The Culinary School.
A man receiving free food from The Culinary School.

“This initiative is to stand together and unite as one, and try to help each other as much as possible.”

Mr Krayem opened the school in November 2019 with an aim to “create a culinary revolution” – a school where both young and older people can bond over their passion for cooking.

“Being in the industry for almost 17 years now, we thought the best way to help people is through food and we are lucky enough to be able to provide food and relief packs for everyone that is in need,” he said.

Bashar Krayem
Bashar Krayem, owner of The Culinary School.

The kitchen initiative is funded directly by Mr Krayem, without the support of any funding bodies. However, some customers chose to pay for their meals to support the business initiative, including the Community Care Kitchen in Chester Hill. 

He says he will continue to operate the kitchen until the government imposes further shutdown measures.

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