A group of Syrian women in Montreal had a tough time finding work after their recent arrival to the city — so instead, they have opened a new catering service, Les Filles Fattoush.
The group is made up of 20 women, all refugees to Canada. They’ve catered everything from groups of eight to over 800, including companies like advertising agency Sid Lee, grocery giant IGA, and start up Lightspeed. Active for a few months now, they held their official launch just last week at Mile End’s Aire Commune.
The women follow their expertise — the food served is spiced and perfumed Syrian classics, including salads, and hot and cold mezzes as well as vegan options — smoky babaghanouj, red pepper-based muhammara, kebbé, cheese or sujuk sausage pastry rolls, and the eponymous fattoush salad. Menus (which vary) also include larger dishes featuring kebab-style meats or rice-based options such as the meat and eggplant mix of makloubeh.
And as co-founder Adelle Tarzibachi tells Eater, it’s a much more social enterprise than just getting the women to work in the kitchen.
“They show up and serve the food so [they] don’t just work on the kitchen — they get to integrate, meet people, explain the food, they can speak French, and develop a relationship with clients”
Tarzibachi, who has been here longer than the other women behind the company, says she felt a certain duty in helping to get Les Filles Fattoush up and running
“I know how they suffered during those last few years...it’s my way to help them and to integrate. They’ve been looking for a job for months but couldn’t find one that suited their needs.”
Ultimately, Tarzibachi says that the catering work — and being in charge of their own careers — wins the women much more than a paycheck.
“[We] love cooking. It’s not like a job-job — they’ve become friends. [And] once they have a job, they feel independent, they have empowerment, they feel like they’re connected to Canada [as a country] and they’re happy here.”
- Les Filles Fattoush [Official]