Middle Eastern Bakery to Help Refugees Start New Lives in South-East Queensland
SOURCE: BRISBANE TIMES
BY: JOCELYN GARCIA
Syrian refugee and chef George Tabbakh who left his family bakery behind in his war-torn country is getting a second chance to share his food and culture with the opening of Middle Eastern-themed Abboud Bakery, south-east of Brisbane.
The third-generation family baker will make Lebanese bread and Middle Eastern treats at Underwood with the help of Brisbane lawyer Angelo Anthony and Coco Bliss franchisee Gus Khcheiche.
Mr Tabbakh and other refugees working at Abboud Bakery will serve a traditional delicacies, including shakshuka dishes, meat bakery treats with kafta and lahembajin pizzas.
Baklava and knafe, a traditional dessert made with thin noodle-like pastry infused with a sugar-based syrup, layered with cheese and ingredients such as clotted cream or nuts will be on offer.
Abboud Bakery’s Middle Eastern menu with a twist will also offer coffees and teas served in traditional and western styles.
The idea to create Abboud Bakery was born when the Mr Anthony and Mr Khcheiche met Mr Tabbakh, with the hope to provide opportunities to refugees wanting to start a new life.
Mr Tabbakh and his family migrated to Australia two years ago as refugees from Aleppo in Syria but with a language barrier, he had been unable to use his skills.
Mr Khcheiche said Mr Tabbakh had so many skills and a passion for the food industry but was unable to find opportunities to work.
“To have experienced such loss with family and to have seen their family bakery taken from them in a war-torn country, leave their home and start fresh in Brisbane is a tough thing to do,” he said.
“We sometimes forget how fortunate we are to live in Australia and need to remember to help those who are deserving of a second chance.
“He and his family are so humble and nice that I can’t wait for everyone to meet George while he works at Abboud Bakery and we hope that one day he will be able to own it.”
Mr Khcheiche said he was amazed at the team effort involved between staff members and friends who helped make the bakery-cafe come to fruition.
“It was a mammoth of a task to put it all together, working through language barriers with George and taking him to Melbourne to pick a concept we wanted but we did it,” he said.
“I think Brisbane is lacking in Middle Eastern food with a mixture of Western food and the concept of a bakery-cafe and I am eager to see customers learn more about George, his culture and food.”
Mr Anthony said the bakery would introduce people to the rich culture of the Middle East through its wonderful food, coffee and people who would work there.
“To be able to enjoy interesting and delicious food, to receive a warm welcome and a make a sincere connection with people from different cultures, sends a powerful welcoming message to the whole community,” he said.
“Anywhere you travel in the Middle East, you will find that kindness and hospitality is an important part of the experience.”
“It’s where the saying of breaking bread together originated.”
Mr Anthony said Mr Khcheiche’s guidance and culinary creations would add a traditional and authentic Middle Eastern flavour to Brisbane.
“George will work in Abboud Bakery for a few years before taking it over as his own business,” he said.
“We see this as a great way to give migrants arriving in Australia a helping hand to start their new life in this wonderful country.
“More importantly, through food and friendship, George and Abboud Bakery will give our community something uplifting and positive to know about the people of Syria and the Middle East.
“Our intention is to make Abboud Bakery a beacon of hope in the community and to encourage our staff to be ambassadors for our culture and diversity everywhere.”
Abboud Bakery opens on Monday at Underwood Marketplace on Logan Road and will open every day from 9am.