Syrian family to bring cuisine and culture with ‘pop up’ restaurant

Feras and Asmaa (front), their family Sedra, Adel and Shaimaa, with Siobhan Shiels, Inishowen Together and Gayle Green.
Feras and Asmaa (front), their family Sedra, Adel and Shaimaa, with Siobhan Shiels, Inishowen Together and Gayle Green.

A Syrian couple, who arrived in the North West over a year ago, are to showcase their culture, cuisine and entertainment via an exciting ‘pop-up’ restaurant.

Feras and Asmaaa Manaa, from Idlib in northwestern Syria, settled in Carndonagh in Inishowen one year and six months ago with their children.

In recent months, they have been sharing their cuisine, to great acclaim, at various community events, including a ‘Global Kitchen’ in Moville earlier this year, which was attended by 600 guests.

Feras and Asmaa are talented cooks and are also keen to share their Syrian cuisine with even more of the community across the North West.

With the help of a number of local people, they are now setting up a pop-up restaurant in their home town, which, it is hoped, will lead to a permanent establishment in the near future.

It will be held over four Saturdays in August - the 3rd, 10th, 17th and 24th - in the Coffee House, Carndonagh.

The idea was the brainchild of Gayle Green, who was inspired by a similar, successful initiative in London.

Gayle teaches English to Syrian families in Carndonagh and is helping Feras with his cooking vocabulary.

“I got to know them and they’re a great couple and lovely family,” she said.

“In London, there was a cafe that changed at night to this amazing Thai restaurant, with wonderful food and conversation. I thought this would something that could be recreated here.”

Gayle knew that the Inishowen Together group had organised a number of food events with the Syrian community and were behind the successful Global Kitchen in April. Working together, they approached Shaun Bradley of the Coffee House in Carndonagh - a new, cafe in the town - and he was enthusiastic about the pop-up restaurant being based in the premises.

The restaurant will feature a three course menu of Syrian delicacies. It will cost 20 euro per person, you can bring your own bottle and there will also be entertainment. Feras is ‘full of ideas’ and the entire family is ‘very excited’ about bringing their culture and mouthwatering food to people across Donegal and Derry.

They told the ‘Journal’ how they feel very much welcomed in Carndonagh and are enjoying their new life there.

A Go Fund Me page has been set up to help with the start up costs of the new restaurant and if you’d like to help out, log on to www.gofundme.com/manaa’s Syrian dinner.

The Manaa’s hope they will have many customers.

‘We’re excited for people coming,” said Asmaa.