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6,500 miles from Daraa: Syrian Kitchen brings new flavors to Columbia

Fueled by passion, desire and pride, Ahmad Alkadah looks to present a different vision of Syria by introducing mid-Missouri to Syrian cuisine at The Syrian Kitchen.

Alkadah, formerly of Daraa, Syria, was a student of geography in his home country. With the onset of the Syrian civil war in 2011, Alkadah initially sought refuge in Jordan before immigrating to the United States. More than a decade later, Alkadah is a restaurateur operating The Syrian Kitchen at 600 Business Loop 70 West, which opened March 1.

Ahmad Alkadah, a refugee from Syria, greets patrons

Ahmad Alkadah, a refugee from Syria, greets patrons at the door of his new restaurant, The Syrian Kitchen, on Saturday, March 12, in Columbia. The restaurant, located on Business Loop 70, opened its doors on March 1.

Prep Cook Mohammad Mater prepares ground meat for use on a kebab on Saturday, March 12, at The Syrian Kitchen in Columbia.

Ahmad Alkadah, left, and Mohammad Mater prepares kebabs for cooking

Ahmad Alkadah, left, and Mohammad Mater prepare kebabs for cooking at The Syrian Kitchen on Saturday, March 12, in Columbia. All of Alkadah’s family is involved in the business. His wife works at the restaurant and his children express support. “My son is in preschool, my daughter is in first grade. They took the menu and gave it to the teachers,” said Alkadah. “They get excited.”

Ahmad Alkadah drizzles cooking oil onto pita dough

Ahmad Alkadah drizzles cooking oil onto pita dough on March 12, at The Syrian Kitchen. Alkadah and the crew arrive early to prepare homemade pita in their specialty oven.

As a refugee Ahmad Alkadah received government help

Ahmad Alkadah forms pita bread dough on March 12, 2022, at the Syrian Kitchen in Columbia. As a refugee, Alkadah received government help, but did not want to continue being dependent and wished to succeed in his own venture. “I was working and making money in this restaurant to show people how we can do as refugees,” Alkadah said.

Freshly made pita bread sits on a tray March 12 at The Syrian Kitchen. Every morning, the crew makes seven total batches, with each batch containing 35 pieces of pita.

Prep Cook Mohammad Mater prepares ground meat

Prep Cook Mohammad Mater prepares ground meat for use on a kebab on March 12 at The Syrian Kitchen. Mater, originally from Sudan, is one of several immigrants working in Alkadah’s kitchen.

Ahmad Alkadah, a refugee from Syria, opens a new restaurant

Ahmad Alkadah lifts a steaming pot on March 12 at The Syrian Kitchen in Columbia. Currently the restaurant is open from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m, but Alkadah hopes to expand its hours in the future.

  • Photo & Doc reporter, 2022 Spring Studying Photo & Doc journalism Reach me at bbrnv@umsystem.edu, or in the newsroom at 882-5700

  • George Whit Frey is an Editor and Visual Journalist at The Columbia Missourian, pursuing a Photojournalism major and a minor in East Asian Studies at Mizzou. Initially falling in love with photography after a childhood trip to San Francisco, today, Frey is a working freelance visual journalist and artist who, over the years, has lived in Vermont, Oregon, Missouri, New York City, and Singapore. While Frey's lens is primarily drawn to bustling urban environments, the diversity of humanity is what he enjoys photographing the most. 

  • Journalism undergrad studying Photojournalism and Documentary.

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