create Finalist / 2019
Flavors from Afar
Born from the success of Tiyya is our newest endeavor, Flavors from Afar, a modern catering service providing social impact in the Greater Los Angeles Region. We invite members Angelenos to experience the tastes of cultures ranging from the Mediterranean to the horn of Africa at our gatherings or delivered to their home & office. Focused on international-inspired food, Flavors from Afar specializes in fresh ingredients prepared by artisan chefs who happen to be former refugees & asylum seekers.
Please list the organizations collaborating on this proposal.
- Temple Emanuel Synagogue
- Grid 110
- MAJOR Fund
- Pledge LA
- Los Angeles Refugee Forum
Briefly tell us a story that demonstrates how your organization turns inspiration into impact.
Since 2010, Tiyya has led the charge for impacting thousands of families through innovative education, arts, and recreation programs. Founded by Owliya Dima and her daughter Meymuna Hussein-Cattan, former refugees from Ethiopia, the Mayor of Los Angeles recently awarded these local female leaders by acknowledging their positive impact on society. Client and Chef, Liza Popal, age 25, arrived to the United States with her family in 2016. As a member of the Tiyya Foundation, she received ongoing support through Tiyya’s Family Mentorship Program to enhance her English skills. While learning a second language, Liza registered for community college and currently attends classes to obtain skills as an accountant. In 2017, after learning about Tiyya’s job opportunity to join Flavors from Afar, Liza Popal (alongside 11 chefs) auditioned to become a hired participant. She mostly had prepared traditional meals such as Mantu and Aye Khanoum for family who lived in her native Afghanistan. Liza’s debut in the Los Angeles food scene was at a private dinner hosted by one of our partners, Sexy Lunch Club. An intimate gathering of 20 guests were treated to a 5-course Afghan meal and an opportunity to hear Liza speak in English about her journey and love for food. Liza is now Tiyya’s most called upon chef and earns substantial money to help her growing family while she attends college. She was featured in the LA Times / Orange County section, becoming an inspiration for other refugee mothers. Liza is very happy with this program and is excited to start her own restaurant one day, combining her culinary and accounting skills. We are proud that Flavors from Afar has become a bridge for local residents and new arrivals who seek to have a cross cultural exchange at the dinner table.
Which of the create metrics will your submission impact?
- Jobs per capita
- Minority- and women-owned firms
- Measures of cultural and global economic influence (“soft power”)
In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?
- Central LA
- East LA
- San Gabriel Valley
- San Fernando Valley
- South LA
- South Bay
How will your project make LA the best place to create?
Unique international cuisines are not always easy to find. Flavors from Afar is designed to help both Angelenos and refugees connect with one another through the culinary arts. Our current chefs are from Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Syria, and Venezuela. We desire to foster a community that wishes to learn more about the refugee / asylee global crisis at a local level and give back in a meaningful way.
We plan to execute Flavors from Afar by using the following strategy:
SELF SUFFICIENCY: Empowering our clients to view themselves as entrepreneurs and providing them with access to resources and opportunities to utilize their existing culinary skills.
CROSS CULTURAL EXCHANGE: Ensuring Angelenos have exposure to unique cultural foods through experiential dining. Our private gatherings include a 5 course dinner and storytelling by one of our featured Chefs. Guests are encouraged to ask questions about the refugee journey and learn more about the beauty of each recipe. Additionally, we provide delivery to those who want to try new flavors without leaving the comforts of their home or office.
JOB DEVELOPMENT: Although we currently have 7 chefs from 5 different countries, we know that by scaling our vision we can create paid positions that include, but not limited to; wait staff, delivery drivers, bussers, outreach coordinators, job training coaches, event planners, etc. By serving the Greater Los Angeles Region through catering, we ensure job opportunities are available to people across the county without being tied to a single storefront.
Refugees and Asylum Seekers are people who must flee their home country to preserve their lives and freedom. Upon arrival to LA, all of our clients are living below poverty level when enrolling with Tiyya. None of our participants exceed 30% of the Area Median Income. By developing their existing talents and encouraging entrepreneurship, it benefits LA both economically and morally.
In order to take our idea to prototype, we were accepted into a 3 month program with Grid 110. Flavors from Afar was piloted in 2018. After serving nearly 300 customers through our soft launch our next stage of development would be to secure a minimum of 10 chefs and 5 kitchen spaces in the Greater Los Angeles Region.
Our intention is to make LA the best place to create a space for international cuisine that brings communities together. This new social connectedness around food will increase opportunities for employment and generate income for refugees starting a new life in the United States. Flavors from Afar’s delivery and catering style is compatible to LA’s goals because we provide opportunities for new immigrant entrepreneurs without the cost of real estate. Prioritizing the culinary arts via international cuisines provides our chefs with a creative opportunity to experiment with their dishes more freely and establish small businesses without taking high risk.
In what stage of innovation is this project?
Post-pilot (testing an expansion of concept after initially successful pilot)
Please explain how you will define and measure success for your project.
We will track the following quantitative metrics to help us gauge our success:
The number of orders we receive from new customers/donors
The financial success and self-sufficiency of our chefs
The number of new catering companies who obtain business licenses as a result of Flavors from Afar