PORTRAIT. From Ethiopia to the Refugee Food Festival in Dijon, meeting with Nibras, a young refugee who has cooking under her skin

The Refugee Food Festival is packing its bags in Dijon this week. On this occasion, we met Nibras, an Ethiopian refugee who came to introduce her country’s cuisine.

The Refugee Food Festival was starting his Dijon tour with a visit to the Eldorado cinema this Monday evening. The association, which aims to change the way people look at refugees and facilitate their professional integration into the catering industry, is back for the third consecutive year in the city of the Dukes.

On this occasion, the cinema is showing “on the other side of hope”, a film on the question of immigration and integration into a European country. But all eyes were on Nibras Idris Ahmed, a young Ethiopian who came with specialties from her country.

Nibras is a young woman from Harar, a city in Ethiopia. She arrived in France in 2018 with the hope of starting a new life. The language barrier and the difficulty of integrating into our country are obstacles, but do not stop the 22-year-old refugee.

Eight months ago, she joined the KËR association, which aims to support people far from employment. The young woman takes advantage of her culinary talents to share the specialties of her country.

“I like to cook, I’ve been doing it since I was little. Every day, I cooked for my family”, says Nibras. The young woman unveiled a buffet of Ethiopian specialties before the film was broadcast on Monday evening. Something to delight about fifty Dijonnais, who came in large numbers on the occasion.

These seem to have been filled since the table was emptied in less than an hour. Marie-Louise Faye, the creator of the KËR association, is not surprised. “Nibras is one of our best people. His recipes are always excellent, we often don’t need to help”, she admits. Nibras also receives the praises of the public whom she welcomes with a big smile, not without a hint of shyness.

Ethiopian cuisine is different from what we can find on our plates in France. “We put a lot of spices compared to French food. We make a lot of sauce. It’s a fairly varied cuisine, both vegetarian and for those who love meat. There are really a lot of things”says Nibras.

The buffet offers a wide variety of dishes. Vegetarian samosas, tuna or lentil-based fritters… Nibras has not forgotten the sweet side with flavored fritters. Flavors that we don’t usually find in the capital of Burgundy, which delighted as much as disoriented the inhabitants of Dijon.

These praises are a real reward for a young woman who had to fight to get there. “She hasn’t had an easy life. She fights every day. Nibras has two young children and she takes care of them on her own, I’m very proud of how far she has come”confides Marie-Louise, the founder of the KËR association and head of Nibras.

The Refugee Food festival can also be satisfied with this evening. “The objective of this festival is to highlight the culinary talents of these women like Nibras and to promote their professional integration in the kitchen”, says Valentine Pia, coordinator and head of professional integration for the association. Today, 59% of the association’s refugees have professional opportunities.

What give hope to Nibras, even if its future could not be written in the restoration. The young woman would like to discover hairdressing and this will materialize since she is starting an internship in this area from this Wednesday, June 15. A transformation not without challenge. But going from a spatula and a whisk to scissors does not seem to scare the young woman.

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