World Refugee Day Food Bazaar                                                           

CitySeed Presents World Refugee Day Food Bazaar

at New Haven’s Festival of Arts & Ideas

 CitySeed proudly presents World Refugee Day Food Bazaar on Tuesday, June 20th at the Festival of Arts & Ideas.  This event, organized by CitySeed’s newest program, Sanctuary Kitchen, in recognition of World Refugee Day, is a one-night-only experience that showcases the culinary skills and cuisines of refugees who have recently resettled in the greater New Haven area.

The cooks preparing food for the event – coming from Syria, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Sudan, and Democratic Republic of the Congo – are all participants in Sanctuary Kitchen, a CitySeed program in partnership with a team of volunteers. Sanctuary Kitchen hosts cooking classes, cooking demonstrations and supper clubs led by refugee cooks who prepare, teach and share about traditional dishes and culture of their native countries. Refugee cooks and translators are referred through IRIS (Integrated Refugee and Immigrant Services), a collaborator on this program. Sanctuary Kitchen aims to promote and celebrate the culinary traditions, cultures, and stories of refugees and immigrants resettled in Connecticut, while providing them with income-generating culinary opportunities.

“Sanctuary Kitchen has hosted six sold-out cooking classes and supper events since its launch in late April,” said Amelia Reese Masterson, CitySeed’s Executive Director. “The Food Bazaar at Arts & Ideas offers a unique opportunity for many festival-goers to become acquainted with our newest program all at once, sampling and enjoying the traditional dishes and hospitality of seven great cooks from six different countries together.” 


Syria – Kibbeh (meat stuffed bulgur croquettes), Tabbouleh (parsley & bulgur salad), Kousa Mahshi (stuffed zucchini)

Iraq – Bamia (okra tomato stew with meat)

Iran – Fesenjan with rice (chicken, walnut, pomegranate stew), Almaneh (jam cookies) 

Afghanistan – Naan bread & Banjan Borani (Eggplant with tomato)

Sudan – Kofta kebab (spiced meat), Mashebbek (sweet in syrup) 

Congo – Wali na Maharage (beans with rice) 

Food will be served buffet-style throughout the event, and ticket-holders are welcome to come by anytime between 6:00pm-8:30pm to mix and mingle, enjoy food from around the world, and listen to stories from our newest residents.


Date:   Tuesday, June 20th

Time:   6:00pm-8:30pm
Place:  Festival Center, between Elm Street and the flagpole on the Church Street side of the New Haven Green.


Sanctuary Kitchen – Background

Sanctuary Kitchen was developed in 2017 by CitySeed in partnership with a team of volunteers with the mission of empowering New Haven’s refugee and immigrant families while fostering understanding and building connections within the community.  The first cooking events took place in April and continue to be held two to three times a month.  Cooking events are facilitated by CitySeed staff and volunteers and take place at CitySeed and in private homes.  Translation services are provided.  Income generated from event ticket sales is used to compensate the cooks and purchase food supplies, with the remainder going back into the program for future activities and growth.  

Sanctuary Kitchen will also pilot a 10-week kitchen-to-farmers’ market incubator this year to support four refugee food entrepreneurs with business training and guidance, as well as access to CitySeed’s commercial kitchen.  

“Preparing and sharing food together are universal human experiences that break down barriers and create community,” said Amelia Reese Masterson, CitySeed Executive Director. “This is the idea behind Sanctuary Kitchen – using food to cultivate authentic connections between newly arrived families and local residents, as a force for positive social change.”

Initial grant funding for Sanctuary Kitchen was awarded to CitySeed by the International Association of New Haven.  Other collaborators supporting the program include Integrated Refugee and Immigrant Services (IRIS), providing referral for refugee cooks; The Ludwig Center for Community & Economic Development (CED) at Yale Law School, offering legal counsel on food law and licensing; Students of Salaam (SOS) at Yale making translation services available; New Haven Free Public Library, affording access to resources on entrepreneurship and business skills; and others.

Sanctuary Kitchen’s cooking classes and food incubator are natural next steps for Kitchen at CitySeed, a licensed, commercial kitchen space launched in 2016 with the vision of joyfully building culture and community through education and entrepreneurship.

Sanctuary Kitchen’s work will continue to evolve as interest, participation, and fundraising for the program grow, furthering its objective of creating meaningful opportunities for cultural and social exchange between new arrivals and local residents.  For more information and to sign up for an event, visit

CitySeed is a nonprofit organization that seeks to provide access to fresh, local food for all New Haven residents.  We operate a series of food-related services and activities toward that end. CitySeed’s mission is to engage the community in growing an equitable, local food system that promotes economic development, community development and sustainable agriculture.  For more information and to donate, visit

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CitySeed, Inc.

Engaging & Connecting Communities through Local Food

817 Grand Avenue, No. 101

New Haven, CT  06511

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