How to host your own #CookForSyria supper club or bake sale

By Georgina Roberts

Cook up a Syrian-inspired veal stew for your supper club. Photo credit  cookforsyria

Cook up a Syrian-inspired veal stew for your supper club. Photo credit cookforsyria

Serena Guen, co-founder of #CookForSyria, has turned one dinner into a global movement. Cook For Syria has brought people together all over the world through a shared love of food and a desire to take action for the children affected by the Syrian conflict. They have not only raised £750,000 for the urgent cause, but have also celebrated Syria’s culture and cuisine.

Anyone can get involved with the campaign and throw their own Syrian-inspired supper club at home or their own bake sale and can donate proceeds via the Just Giving Page. Whether you fancy whipping up Yotam Ottolenghi’s '“Aubergine Fetteh”, or Angela Hartnett’s “Olive Oil and Pistachio Cake” – here are Serena’s top tips for hosting your own Syrian extravaganza:

Keep it simple:

“It depends on how good a cook you are – I’d say try not to make it too complicated. Choose a recipe that you’re comfortable with.”

Set the scene:

“You can make it look nice and Syrian. Get some of the spices and put them in little pots or bowls on the table. Syrian food always has lots of spices and flavours, so it makes English food taste a little bit bland in comparison. If you look at the front of the Cook for Syria book, we’ve got an ingredient cupboard section.”

Family Style:

It’s amazing to see British children helping Syrian children.

“Syrian cuisine is all about sharing – their hospitality is like they can’t stop feeding you, and if you don’t finish it they’re like: ‘Oh, you didn’t like it’. Serve dishes ‘family style’, on big platters.”

Get social, but with a message:

“You can do a little education session. A lot of people were learning about the culture because they were cooking the food. People hosting supper clubs were keen to actually educate the guests. On the website we ended up making whole kits for supper clubs and even an invitation outline. You can print out information, so that your guests can learn about the crisis in Syria. Guests could pay whatever amount they thought was fit.”

Share the #love:

“We encourage people to share images of food. If you cooked someone’s recipe, tag the handles of the chefs and if you’re cooking something let the chef know if you have any questions. Often chefs will re-Instagram it, so we’ve got a community going and there’s a dialogue. It really grew the most on Instagram because of the hashtag and visual nature of food.”

On your marks, get set, bake:

“It’s about spreading the knowledge across different levels. We do #BakeForSyria in schools. When you were little you probably did a lot of bake sales. UNICEF put together a whole pack of materials to help. Everything from bunting to posters to assemblies – teachers can tell the children what’s happening in Syria in assembly. The schools won’t raise as much money, they will raise about £150 a school, but it’s really sweet to see the kids learning about it. I’ve got pictures of the children drawing their own #BakeForSyria or #CookForSyria posters. It’s amazing to see British children helping Syrian children.”

A £7 donation from a supper club will buy 3 textbooks for children in Syria. Photo by  cookforsyria

A £7 donation from a supper club will buy 3 textbooks for children in Syria. Photo by cookforsyria