Your lunch delivery could support refugees, thanks to Eat Offbeat

Photo credit: Laura Fuchs

Food Delivery Startup Eat Offbeat Hires Refugees

When Manal Kahi moved to New York three years ago, she longed for the flavors of her native Lebanon. She started making her hummus from a family recipe, and people often told her she should sell it.

This got Kahi thinking about other home cooked dishes that were missing from New York’s culinary landscape and the people who could bring them to the city’s adventurous eaters.

Late last year, Kahi and her brother launched Eat Offbeat, a food delivery company that hires recent refugees who have resettled in New York. Currently, the company caters for parties of ten or more and all dishes are cooked in a commissary kitchen in Long Island City by six home cooks from Syria, Iraq, Eritrea, Tibet, and Nepal.

Initially customers were “intrigued by the concept,” Kahi told us. “But they loved the food, and they come back for the food.” Typical meals contain dishes from at least three countries – the most popular is Cauliflower Manchurian, a deep-fried dish from Nepal.

Kahi locates refugees through a partnership with the International Rescue Committee, and previous restaurant or catering experience isn’t required, said Kahi. “Anyone who is passionate about sharing their skills can come to our kitchen.”

Refugees and others new to foreign countries often have to adapt to their host country, but Kahi hopes Eat Offbeat is a place that adapts to the needs of her cooks instead. Kahi works around her employees other obligations, including time off for English classes and to take care of family, she said.

So far Eat Offbeat is thriving. Kahi has been busy delivering meals, and in the kitchen, “it feels like a family,” she said.

If you’re interested in heading off the beaten path and trying Eat Offbeat for your next office lunch or dinner party, you can sign up right here.

Now go forth and (feel good about takeout).