Top Liverpool chef Peter Kinsella has lent his support to Refugee Week by cooking in the kitchen of a charity helping asylum seekers.
Kinsella, owner of the Catalan restaurant Lunya in Liverpool One, marked the event by making a seafood paella for 120 refugees at the Asylum Link Merseyside centre in Overbury Street, Kensington.
Refugee Week is held once a year to highlight the plight of people displaced by war, terrorism and threats against civil liberties.
Last year Asylum Link Merseyside helped 1,400 refugees from war-torn countries such as Syria. The Home Office has increasingly ‘dispersed’ anyone seeking asylum to the regions, making Liverpool the busiest centre in the North West.
“It’s fantastic to have a chance to support this important week,” said Peter, who was joined by his head chef Dave Upson. “My wife Elaine and I are both acutely aware of the human issues, and the obstacles some people have in the way of having an ordinary life.
“Food is one of those things that unites us all and paella was the perfect dish. It’s often cooked as a communal dish in Spain and in sharing a meal you can create a sense of community. We all make the same appreciative noises when we enjoy good food.”
He added; “Liverpool’s future is about how well it connects to the rest of the world and I feel the city is much more diverse today than it was when I was growing up, which is a good thing.
“My grandfather came from Ireland, and my great grandfather from Greece, so I also know the world is a big place and sometimes people have good reason to move around.”
Few of the asylum seekers had ever tried a paella before but it was received with smiles and thanks.
Ewan Roberts, manager at Asylum Link Merseyside, said: “It’s individuals like Peter who blaze a trail and make a difference. We are very grateful for his support and believe the example he sets – to be welcoming and inclusive of people who need sanctuary – is a fine one. Today was about sharing and making people who’ve often had a very rough time feel better.”