Afaf Bayoud

Welcome back! Afaf was the very first cultural host with EdmontonEats in October 2019 for the Taste of Libya held at Ernest’s Dining Room NAIT. It was an amazing evening.  A time for guests to try Libyan food and an opportunity for Afaf and her husband Jehad to share their culture.  Afaf is happy to be back for the Holiday Cultural Box Event.

She will be sharing ingredients, a spice blend and her recipe for pasta with chicken. It is sure to be a taste delight.

Food is a passion of Afaf. She got her first lessons from her mother.  “She was so patient”, chuckles Afaf.  Afaf loves food to be very tasty and to have a beautiful presentation.  She hopes someday to be able to fuse together the Libyan and Canadian cuisines.

” I became involved with EdmontonEats so that I could be more connected with my neighbourhood and get involved in the community.  I am pleased to have this opportunity to share the culture and foods of my native country with other Canadians, so we can all become more enriched.”  It is so nice to have her daughter Jwearia join in this event.

Maria Mondol (Baidya)

The Holiday Cultural Box Event is the first event Maria has been a cultural host with EdmontonEats. The recipe kit she will be providing is a Curry Bengali Recipe. Maria hosted me for a lunch with her two lovely daughters with this amazing dish. I can still recall the lovely warmth and balance of the tastes.

Maria remembers the exact day she arrived in Edmonton, it was May 27, 2010.  Maria started her English language learning journey and training for employment.  She connected with local schools and became part of the community garden in her neighbour.  She loves to cook and share her cultural foods with others.

Maria comes from the Gopalgonj District in Bangladesh.  This is the district where the current Prime Minister is from.  She grew up in the Koligram Village of 10,000 people.  Maria speaks Bengali and English and understands Hindi. 

The Gopalgonj District is re-known for farming 200 varieties of fish on their fish farms. The climate is warm and it is easy to get your food fresh everyday. Marie’s mother still lives in the village and she takes her fishing rod to the fish farm and catches her dinner on a daily basis.  Fish and rice are the favoured foods in her village.

Visiting with neighbours and family at their homes to eat and talk is the way of life.  






Entessar Alkrad

The Holiday Cultural Box Event is the first time Entessar has been a cultural host with EdmontonEats.  Welcome! Welcome! She will be putting together a recipe kit for her mother’s falafel recipe. Falafels made by Entessar are in high demand by her neighbors and family.

Entessar is from Daraa, Syria, a small city of 150,000 people. She moved to Jordan during the civil war and then to Canada in 2016.

To Entessar, Daraa is a special place because of the people and sense of community. Neighbourhoods are welcoming and people are connected. Everyone is considered family, no matter where they are from or what they do. It is a true, open community. Entessar recalls, growing up, no one would lock their doors.

Syrian homecooked dinners were community events for Entessar growing up. It was not uncommon that there would be 10-15 people from their neighbourhood dining together at a time.

She hopes her children can grow up to have opportunities to do what they love and support each other. This includes passing on traditional Syrian food so her mother’s legacy can live on for generations to come.

Entessar, Carley and Doona – three great friends.

Doona Arkeef

Doona Arkeef

EdmontonEats is pleased to welcome Doona as cultural host to her first event with us. Doona is preparing a recipe kit for her sweet and delicious Hariseh Cake. We can hardly wait to taste this Syrian treat!

Doona came to Canada in 2016 via Jordon where her husband and their three children moved at the start of the civil war in Syria. Doona is originally from Aleppo, Syria. Aleppo is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, surviving countless conflicts, kingdoms and environmental events. The city was the largest in Syria, until the civil war, where the Battle of Aleppo had significant impact on the city’s inhabitants.

Cindy Lazarenko, Chef and Doona Arkeef, Cultural Host

For Doona, sharing food is sharing your life. It tells your story. It’s deeply personal. It’s from the heart. When someone cooks for you or your family, it is an expression of love. That’s what makes traditional Syrian food so special to Doona.

What the heck is a social enterprise?

Byline: By Calan Hobbs

EdmontonEats is piloting a social enterprise rather than a charitable society model. So what’s the difference?

Well, a social enterprise blends the best of the charitable and private enterprise business models by using market-oriented approaches to solve social problems, according to Brooks Hanewich, EdmontonEats board member and co-founder of MatchWork, who has extensive experience working with social enterprises in Vancouver and Edmonton.

“A social enterprise can provide a way for people to share their talents and expertise, and creates avenues to address the systemic barriers they face when trying to participate in the economy,” Hanewich explained.

EdmontonEats creates sustainable economic opportunities for new Canadians who have valuable skills to share. It provides them with work experience, payment and networking opportunities, while also building community connections between the hosts and attendees.  

The private sector provides a business model of successful, long-term wealth accumulation. But, as Hanewich pointed out, wealth is distributed in a top-heavy way which doesn’t address wealth inequalities nor overall socio-economic problems.

EdmontonEats founder, Maureen Murphy-Black, chose the social enterprise model with a goal of making EdmontonEats self-sufficient.

“The revenue sharing model allows participants to earn an income, while creating a sustainable organization for the future,” Murphy-Black said.

A recent Statistics Canada survey showed nearly 50% of immigrants say finding an adequate job is their biggest struggle, ahead of learning the language at 26% and adapting to the culture at 13%. Rates of low income and unemployment continue to be high among immigrants, relative to the general population. 

Each EdmontonEats event is tailored to the strengths and interests of the host families. The first step is understanding where they come from, what they want to do and what their talents are. They are empowered to apply their skills and cultural background, and take ownership of creating the event, working with partners in the business sector and receiving income for their work.

EdmontonEats provides a dignified means of wealth transfer. Diners pay for a meal, as they do in restaurants.The revenue generated cycles back into the social enterprise, to the families and to the local community.

And the advantage of a dining event goes beyond creating employment and wealth to fighting social isolation and building a sense of community. People gather for an experience. Everyone involved — from the diners, partners and the families themselves — connects with one another. Communities unite. People are exposed to different cultures and, ultimately, new relationships are built.EdmontonEats salutes some other social enterprises that are helping to make our community a better place: Food4Good, Leftovers Food Rescue, and Hallway Cafe.