Imad Alarnab is a Syrian chef, entrepreneur and refugee who ran 2 successful restaurants and a cafe and chain of juice bars in Damascus.

His businesses were destroyed in six days during the Syrian Civil War. In July 2015, Imad fled Syria in the hope of finding a safer life for himself and his family in Europe. After 3 months and 10 countries, running, cycling, taking a train, a boat and sleeping on the steps of a church in Calais for 64 days, Imad arrived in London in October 2015. He eventually brought his family, including three daughters aged 6, 10 and 13, over to join him in England in July 2016.

Imad sought refugee status in the UK and started working as a car salesman, putting aside his passion for food. However, this was merely a job and Imad was more than keen to pursue his dream of, once again, running a restaurant.

Imad met Layla Yarjani, an entrepreneur and humanitarian, and after their first introduction where Layla tasted Imad’s cooking and heard his dream to be back in the restaurant business, she decided to help him join the food scene in London.

In March 2017, Imad hosted his first pop-up brunch and dinner experience in Bethnal Green, to showcase his food in London, and support Unicef’s work in Syria. The pop-up was a complete sell-out and received rave reviews. Since then Imad has run countless pop-ups supporting charities like Help Refugees UK in London and their work abroad.

Imad has a deep passion for food, family, and community. He is excited to continue sharing this passion with London.

In Syrian culture, we can’t make any journey without first planning the food. If you make a plan to go to the cinema, you plan what you’ll eat. If you make a plan to visit your mother, you know when you’re going to eat. There’s no going out without eating something.
— Imad Alarnab