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DC restaurants share their kitchens with refugee and asylum-seeker guest chefs

Janet Weinstein/ABC News
Janet Weinstein/ABC News

(WASHINGTON) — At the trendy Washington, D.C. restaurant Maydan, executive chef Gerald Addison tends to kebabs sizzling over a huge fire pit, as Nejat Ahmadollah, a guest chef and an Afghan refugee, fans the flames. Both men look right at home.

Over the course of six nights, and ending on Saturday night, Maydan and four other restaurants in the nation’s capital are participating in “Tables without Borders” — a dinner series where local establishments host refugees and asylum seekers as guest chefs. The project, which coincides with World Refugee Week, is designed to foster a cultural exchange and to bring newcomers into the industry.

“The name ‘Maydan’ means ‘central square’,” Addison told ABC News. “And, I think, having this giant [fire pit] in the middle to gather around is very on point with what we’re trying to convey.”

Ahmadollah, who has been cooking for more than 20 years, plans a special meal from his home country to offer on Maydan’s menu.

“I want to present the real, authentic Afghan food,” Ahmadollah told ABC News.

The other participating restaurants are A Rake’s Progress, Espita Mezcaleria, Little Sesame and Himitsu.

According to the Tables without Borders website, restaurants involved in the week-long event will donate part of their proceeds to the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, the Jewish refugee resettlement non-profit.

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