We here at Mei Mei are very honored to be part of a great event coming up - Pop Up Do Good, a benefit dinner for Syrian refugees featuring Syrian-inspired cuisine. Many of us had been thinking about how we could do something to help this humanitarian crisis and it was perfect timing that the amazing Mary Kastman of Sarma restaurant contacted us about doing this pop-up. Mary has been working tirelessly to plan and execute this event with a bunch of volunteers from our favorite restaurants around town: Sarma, Sofra, Oleana, Townsman, Commonwealth and more. Getting to eat food prepared by these cooks in one night is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
In the hospitality industry, we sometimes see huge amounts of money being spent on nights out in restaurants. While we value and cherish these opportunities to enjoy great food and drink out with loved ones, it's also important to step back and see how we can use our money for pressing causes like the Syrian refugee crisis. According to the donation recipient, the American Refugee Committee, 'we know that more than 6 million people inside Syria need emergency food assistance right now.' If you can help support these needy people while also getting to taste a delicious meal from some of the best cooks in Boston, how can you say no?
We know that $70 for a ticket is not an insignificant amount of money for many people. The ticket price was set at this amount to reflect the value of the donated food and drinks from the generous sponsors listed below, and we also want to make sure we can give as much money as possible to the American Refugee Committee. So maybe if you're planning to go out twice this weekend and next weekend and will maybe spend $20 or $25 a meal, consider staying in those nights and putting that restaurant budget towards one incredible night of food, drinks, and a very worthy cause. We may also be able to offer some pay-what-you-can tickets later this week, so stay tuned.
Enough from us. Here are some words from the organizer and brain behind this event, Mary Kastman. She answered some questions for us to give a bit more information on the pop-up.
1. How did you get the idea to do this pop-up?
I was driving to work one day, listening to NPR as I normally do and I heard a story about many of our public figures wanting to close our borders to Syrian refugees due to fears of terrorism. I was incensed and started thinking of what I could do to help the refugees. I'm sure many of my cook friends would agree that we try to understand/process a lot of the world through the lens of food so I thought: Why not do a pop up?
2. What inspired the dishes that will be served?
I'm super lucky to be involved with Middle Eastern food and ingredients every day so I am bringing a lot of that knowledge to the table. There is a ton of crossover in flavors and textures in the regions surrounding Syria (i.e Lebanon and Turkey) but also some differences that I have learned about through extensive research and the guidance of my Syrian friend and coworker, Elliot. The food is not meant to be an exact replica of Syrian cuisine, but rather a taste of the incredible flavors that are just the tip of the iceberg.
3. How did you choose everyone who is involved?
My wonderful friend and chef Brian Young encouraged me to seek out the folks at Mei Mei as a possible space and partner for the event. Being a huge fan of the food truck, I reached out to Irene and BOOM! Here we are! From there everything was pretty organic; Mei Mei has an existing relationship with Reserve and they are stoked to be involved. I wanted to give the event a special feel while utilizing Reserve's app so that people can sign up right on their phone. It literally takes less than 5 minutes to sign up --- that was huge!
Sofra was also a natural partner in that the uber fabulous Maura Kilpatrick does phenomenal work with these flavor profiles. She also shares my feelings about the refugee crisis and was more than happy to help out. I cannot wait to try her treats!
4. Why did you pick the American Refugee Committee and how will they use the money?
Through extensive research and months of communication, the ARC was the clear choice. They have an A+ rating on Charity Watch and a low percentage of overhead. They have refugee relief programs all over the world that focus on providing food, clothing, domestic violence programs, shelter and education. The money we raise for this event will go towards basic necessities such as food staples, blankets for the winter, hygiene kits and clothing. For more information, check out the website: www.arcrelief.org
5. Tell us more about the talented team in the back of house!
Liz Barwick, a fellow Wisconsin native, also spends her time at Sarma. You can find her most nights rocking pans on the sauté station.
Lindsey Barcebal hails from Maine and is part of the dream team over at Oleana. She brings her grill, sauté and garde manger expertise to us for this event.
Emily Klug of Sarma will be providing our Pop Up with her delicious bread---z'attar dusted flatbread and anise seed bread with figs!
Maura Kilpatrick of Sofra bakery has some killer dessert plans for Pop Up, Do Good! Think buttery, flaky baklava and Turkish delight truffles!
Meg Thompson of Townsman will be collaborating with Maura on some special cookie swag that our guests will receive as an extra special thank you for supporting the cause.
6. Anything else you want people to know?
I'm just so grateful to everyone involved and I hope the event will be a smashing success. Special thanks to all of our supporters! Their generous donations are allowing us to maximize our gift to the ARC.
Thanks everyone for reading...now go to Pop Up Do Good and book your tickets!