What’s it like for a refugee to rebuild their career in Virginia? One man – who was an executive chef in Afghanistan – took jobs in small kitchens cooking for buffets. But he never lost hope. Four years later, he is opening a restaurant in Richmond’s Carytown serving dishes from his homeland.
Chef Noori: From executive chef at a luxury hotel in Afghanistan to Ellwood Thompson's. This is his story.
And he is passionate about making Afghan food better, particularly its presentation. Although careful to keep the essence of his culture’s culinary history, little by little he’s taking the dishes up a notch through small tweaks — new sauces, garnishes, a new ingredient here and there. It’s a change from what’s done “back in country,” as he says, because in his culture, food is consumed family-style from large community vessels. Presentation isn’t necessarily a priority.
Establishing The Mantu is the culmination of a journey fraught with tragic loss and defeat, survival, and triumphant new opportunities and beginnings.