Home Cooking

Mera Kitchen Collective gives immigrants and refugees platform to cook.

Jess Mayhugh - October 2017

Home Cooking

Mera Kitchen Collective gives immigrants and refugees platform to cook.

Jess Mayhugh - October 2017

Liliane Makole, left, and Iman Alshehab. -Mike Morgan

When Liliane Makole came to America from Cameroon, she made a dream board on the bedroom wall of her Little Italy home. One of her aspirations was to open her own restaurant.

Today, her dream is more attainable than ever. Makole and five other women founded Mera Kitchen Collective, a worker-owned co-op focused on empowering refugees and immigrants and tapping into their culinary heritage by hosting pop-up events throughout the city. 


⇓ Article continues below ⇓

“When there’s so much movement in people’s lives, cooking is an anchor,” says member and translator Aishah Alfadhalah. “This is something familiar when everything else feels new.”

Inspired by women’s empowerment groups she had seen in the Democratic Republic of Congo, co-founder Emily Lerman connected with Makole, Meg Murray, and Brittany DeNovellis, who all had similar ideas of giving women the platform to cook. 

“With the current political climate, there’s a heightened interest in the immigrant experience,” Murray says.

Mera co-founder Iman Alshehab, a Syrian refugee who has been in America for seven months was the executive chef of the Four Seasons back in Damascus. 

“When I first got here, I wanted to go back home,” says Alshehab through translation. “But starting this project has brought love back into my life.” 

That love was on full display in June, when she cooked for a sold-out event at Hersh’s in South Baltimore. Instead of pizza and pasta coming out of the kitchen, it was Alshehab’s grape leaves and kibbeh dishes. In September, Makole hosted her own chicken cooking class at R. House. Next month, Mera is hosting a pop-up at Clavel. The eventual goal is for the co-op to open its own brick-and-mortar cafe. 

“The idea is to amplify the voices, skills, and stories of these women—and, so far, everyone has said yes,” says Lerman. “You always hear that Baltimore is this great, supportive place. But it’s nice to actually experience it and realize it’s true.”





You May Also Like


In Good Taste

The Land of Kush Owners Win Grant to Make Restaurant Cashless

Husband-and-wife team win $10,000 from Visa to help launch strictly digital sale system.

Food & Drink

Oh, Brother!

Local restauranteurs keep it all in the family.

Food & Drink

This Molteni at Magdalena is the Fanciest Oven in Baltimore

See all the details of this European-style range at The Ivy Hotel.


In Good Taste

Open & Shut: Pitango Bakery + Cafe; Karma Farm; Mussel Bar & Grille

The latest restaurant openings, closings, and recent news.

On The Town

Ten Things to Look Out for at the New Hotel Revival in Mt. Vernon

The new 14-story property features private karaoke rooms and panoramic views.

Food & Drink

Review: Emma's Tea Spot

Keep calm and visit Emma’s Tea Spot in Hamilton.

Liliane Makole, left, and Iman Alshehab. -Mike Morgan

Connect With Us

Most Read


City College Lacrosse Team Plays On While Mourning Captain’s Murder : Services for 17-year-old Ray Glasgow III will be held this weekend.

Port Discovery Launches $10.5 Million Campaign to Transform Exhibits: Celebrating its 20th anniversay, the children's museum aims to add new exhibit on Port of Baltimore and four-story climbing structure.

Ludlow Market Opening in Former Wine Market Space in Locust Point: Chef Christopher Audia shares details about the new neighborhood concept.

We Ask Everyman Theatre Actors, And The Real-Life Characters They Portray, The Same Five Questions: Get to know the cast of The Book of Joseph, which premieres on May 11.

DJ Trillnatured Marches To Her Own Beat: Jessica Hyman talks to us about connecting Baltimore through music.