By Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host Published Feb 06, 2024 at 11:01 AM

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 founded by Kai Gardner-Mishlove in 2019, that presents pop-up dinners hosted by local restaurants that showcase the home cooking of refugees from across the globe.  

In 2024, the first Tables Across Borders dinner will be held at Amilinda and will feature Burmese cuisine.

The cuisine of Burma

Chef Gregory Leon will be hosting the first Tables Across Borders dinner for 2024 at Amilinda, 315 E. Wisconsin Ave. on Monday, Feb. 12 from 6 to 9 p.m.

The dinner, which features the fare of Burma (Myanmar), will showcase dishes flavored with chiles. ginger, turmeric, coriander, lemongrass and lime.

Tickets are $70 per person and can be purchased online. Since the pop-ups are staffed by volunteers – and all proceeds from the ticket price go to support the refugee family who cooks the meal – attendees are asked to consider a generous tip for staff.

What you need to know

The Tables Across Borders dinners recognize that refugee populations are not only displaced from their homes, but – due to how 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.

Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host

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.