By Lori Fredrich Senior Writer & Dining Editor Published Mar 30, 2022 at 2:06 PM

Food connects us. It transports us. It tells us a story about a person, a place, a time. It preserves culture. And, in a world that is often divided, food brings people together. 

All of those elements are among the goals for Tables Across Borders, an initiative that presents pop-up dinners hosted by local restaurants which showcase the home cooking of refugees from across the globe.

The initiative, founded by local volunteer and refugee supporter Kai Gardner-Mishlove, launched its first dinner series in 2019. And thanks to sponsorship from organizations like Hanan Refugee Relief and UWM Cultures and Community, a new series has been launched for spring and summer of 2022, with dinners hosted by Amilinda, Lazy Susan and Tricklebee Cafe.

The Tables Across Borders dinners recognize that refugee populations are not only displaced from their homes, but – due to the manner in which they are displaced and dispersed – they often stand in danger of suffering the loss of their foodways. 

In turn, the dinners highlight traditional dishes from cuisines you’re unlikely to encounter in restaurants, while offering guests the opportunity to connect with and learn more about cultures different from their own.

Since all proceeds from the dinners go directly to the cooks, the dinners also provide a source of income for families who are establishing new lives in Milwaukee.

Some dinners in the series have already sold out. But tickets for these upcoming dinners are still available. Get them while you can.

April 4 

Karen Dinner
Tricklebee Cafe, 4424 W. North Ave.
6 to 9 p.m.
Homeland: Burma (Myanmar) and Thailand-Burma border region
Expect: dishes flavored with chilies, tumeric, ginger, cardamom, garlic, tamarind and lime
[Get tickets]

April 18

Ethiopian Dinner
Tricklebee Cafe, 4424 W. North Ave.
6 to 9 p.m.
Homeland: Ethiopia, East Africa
Expect: dishes flavored with fenugreek, cumin, cardamom, coriander, saffron, mustard and ginger
[Get tickets]

May 9

Congolese Dinner
Tricklebee Cafe, 4424 W. North Ave.
6 to 9 p.m.
Homeland: Democratic Republic of Congo, Central Africa
Expect: Cassava root (fufu or kwanga), chiles, garlic, onions, peanuts
[Get tickets]

June 13

Somali Dinner
Lazy Susan, 2378 S. Howell Ave.
6 to 9 p.m.
Homeland: Somalia, East Africa
Expect: dishes flavored with green chilies, cumin, coriander, black pepper, cinnamon bark, cardamom, cloves and turmeric
[Get tickets]

July 25

Rohingya Dinner
Lazy Susan, 2378 S. Howell Ave.
6 to 9 p.m.
Homeland: Burma (Myanmar)
Expect: dishes flavored with chiles. ginger, turmeric, coriander, lemongrass, lime
[Get tickets]

Lori Fredrich Senior Writer & Dining Editor

Lori is an avid cook whose accrual of condiments and spices is rivaled only by her cookbook collection. Her passion for the culinary industry was birthed while balancing A&W root beer mugs as a teenage carhop, fed by insatiable curiosity and fueled by the people whose stories entwine with each and every dish. She’s had the privilege of chronicling these tales via numerous media, including OnMilwaukee and in her book “Milwaukee Food.” Her work has garnered journalism awards from entities including the Milwaukee Press Club. 

When she’s not eating, photographing food, writing or recording the FoodCrush podcast, you’ll find Lori seeking out adventures with her husband Paul, traveling, cooking, reading, learning, snuggling with her cats and looking for ways to make a difference.