Meet (and eat) the migrant women cooking at Melbourne’s best restaurants via The Thick Accents Project

A traditional Tamil feast, Cypriot afternoon tea and lunch featuring Italian family recipes are taking place in Melbourne this month and next year, as migrant women working at the city’s best restaurants are highlighted. honor as part of the Thick Accents project.

Created by Ilanit Bard, an accomplished venue manager with time in Lume and Bistro Guillaume, the series of events is described by Bard as a movement to ensure that female hospitality workers who are migrant women are better represented. and supported.

“I see women being pushed down and even myself have experienced it. I’ve waited so many years for someone to see this and do something. things change, I have to be the change. “

A previous Thick Accents event celebrating Andalusian cuisine, hosted by Chef Ana Cortes at Restaurant Golda in Prahran. Photo: Supplied



Born in France to Tunisian and Israeli parents, Bard says “I will always feel like a migrant wherever I go”. She wanted to create a platform for women like her in the hospitality industry to feel supported, represented and connected to others.

The long-term goal is to change the culture of an industry which she believes has put men’s voices first and led to sexism, sexual harassment, racism and bullying of others working in the industry. the restaurants.

“By making it better and safer for women, we are also making it better for men. It will free men from this brotherhood culture and toxic masculinity inside these restaurants,” Bard said.

Since March, four events have taken place, including a tasting of regional Indian cuisine and a Javanese street food dinner. Guest chefs at restaurants like Lee Ho Fook and Mister Bianco design the initial menu based on their family’s food or culture; Bard then helps them polish it, secures a location, and manages operations. Tickets always cost $ 75 or less to ensure affordability for more people.

A key part of every event is putting the woman who created the menu in front of the guests. Often, consumers see the names of the same chefs in the media, on menus or in Instagram feeds. But Bard would like to point out the dozens of others who work in these kitchens whose names we don’t know.

“When they come out of the kitchen and show up with their food, I can see that sparkle in their eyes,” she says.

While this is not the goal, chefs like Lorena Corso (Sig. Enzo) and Ana Cortes (Lee Ho Fook) have found themselves with jobs, promotions and other opportunities after cooking with Thick Accents.

After a lockdown-induced hiatus, Bard is back with an exciting schedule for November and December (details below). Afterwards, she will take a break to visit family in Europe and the Middle East, whom she has not seen for three years. Fortunately, Thick Accents will be relaunched with its return to Melbourne in 2022.

More information at: soignehospitality.com/the-thick-accents-project

Upcoming Thick Accents Project Events

Beyond Korean Fried Chicken by Sophie Gavell (chef, Baia di Vino)

6 p.m., November 23, Golda, 162 Commercial Road, Prahran. TryBooking $ 75 tickets

Cypriot Bakery High Tea by Alexandra Cleanthous (founder, Les Choux)

3 p.m., November 28, Pope Joan, 16/45 Collins Street, Melbourne. TryBooking $ 75 tickets

Kasi’s Kitchen (Tamil cuisine) by Akanksha Kasiviswanathan (chef, Yagiz)

6 p.m., December 6, Yagiz, 22 Toorak Road, South Yarra. TryBooking $ 75 tickets

A night in Turkey by Tugce Bay Rakdar (chief, Attica)

6 p.m., December 13, more details to come.


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