Shereen Abdelfattah is about love – love for her neighbors, love for her community, love for all people. Originally from Egypt, she moved to Winston-Salem in 2009 and immediately became involved in community volunteering. She found herself sympathetic towards refugees, empathizing with the known feeling of moving to a new home, creating a new life away from what was known. She was compassionate towards the hardship that refugees were experiencing and decided she wanted to help. “If I can help even with a smile, I am going to be positive and do as much as I can.”
Through partnerships with other organizations to welcome refugees into the community, she developed a relationship with many of the women and asked “what do you like to do?” to which a common response was, “we love cooking.” Abdelfattah leaned into that response and in 2016 developed a business to make Middle Eastern and Mediterranean food employing refugee women.
“If you go to the Middle East…you will find people will invite you to their homes even if they don’t know you” in an effort to display “good hospitality, to introduce the food, and make you feel at home.” Cooking is an experience with neighbors and friends, bringing the community together to show love.
Abdelfattah has early memories of sitting in the kitchen observing the women in her family prepare meals, but did not routinely cook herself until she was married. She enjoyed the process of trying new dishes and occasionally calling her mom for cooking advice.
“My husband and I would invite people into our home and people found the food is unique, tasty and delicious and told me I should open a restaurant.”
She created Delicious by Shereen, a nonprofit business, to create jobs for refugee women, allowing them to support their families and each other through cooking. Her business also received grants from the Winston-Salem Foundation to create ongoing learning opportunities for refugees- providing classes in ESL, finance, and civics. Initially Delicious by Shereen was a catering business, but due to the pandemic they had to pivot and created a new model of the business through online ordering of home based meals available for pick up through Buie’s Market.
Currently Abdelfattah is working with 5-6 refugee families who “cook from their hearts, as if for their family.” As she gains more customers she hopes she can employ more refugee women and families to provide job opportunities and financial stability. Additionally, Delicious by Shereen provides food for various organizations once monthly- Ronald McDonald House, women’s shelters, Meals on Wheels, Bethesda Center, etc. “We are all here for each other, to give back to the community and to show support.”
Abdelfattah values respecting people and cultures, languages and traditions, and sharing good food. Her hope is that the food being prepared brings people together. She is a true light of genuine hospitality, community engagement, and most of all love.
January 12, 2022