Park Slope resident Hannah Goldberg is on a mission to reunite the international community — with food.
The founder of Tanabel, a food and events company, employs female refugees from the Middle East as cooks who carry recipes that have been passed down for generations. Now they’ll be sharing those dishes at the second annual World’s Fare in Queens on May 18 and 19.
“When a culture is forced into diaspora, a lot of those traditions can get lost,” said Goldberg, who said her employees largely come from Syria, Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan. “What people, mostly immigrants, are bringing to the World’s Fare is their culture and their tradition. This is what makes America great. This is what makes us the rich, creative, country that we are, the city that we are.”
Tanabel is one of more than 100 food vendors offering international foods at this year’s World’s Fare. The women have already started preparing traditional recipes, including cabbage and mint salad, Iranian baklava, and an Aleppo, Syrian, version of kibbeh filled with lamb.
“Each of them is a super talented cook, and I love sharing their food with people and I love them having the opportunity to see people loving their food,” Goldberg said. “The goal we have is to make these people feel more integrated.”
Goldberg’s hope is that the food will help people feel connected to others around the world. Outside of Tanabel’s booth, guests can feel like they’re eating a mango jerk chicken sub in the heart of the Caribbean or fresh ceviche on the coast of Peru.
The World’s Fare is meant to be “a grand celebration of equality and the diversity of New York City,” according to its website, and honors New York’s 1964 World’s Fair. The event was curated by a long list of professional chefs and foodies, including Liza Mosquito de Guia, Jean Lee, George Motz, Kysha Harris and Tamy Rofe.
The festival will be from noon to 8 p.m. May 18 and 19 at Citi Field. Along with a long list of food items, there will also be an international beer pavilion with more than 50 craft beer vendors, cocktails, and a world market bazaar with food products and crafts. Last year’s Lego recreation of the 1964 fair’s Unisphere will not make a comeback this year.
In between trying foods, guests can get henna tattoos or African body paint, challenge themselves to a hot sauce competition, or watch karate and food demos. There are also plenty of opportunities to dance off the calories with live performances by Kaleta & Super Yamba, Royal Khao, Strings n Skins, Underground Horns, Rho and the Nomads and more.
Tickets are $9 for children. Adult prices start at $23 with package options including general admission, general admission with three hours of unlimited beer tastings and a souvenir mug, or a VIP experience with a lounge, unlimited beer tastings, souvenir mug, and two specialty cocktails. A portion of every ticket will be donated to CityMeals on Wheels, an organization that delivers more than two million meals every year to elderly New Yorkers.
Goldberg hopes World’s Fare patrons will feel that love that crosses borders and is taught across cultures — and realize that much of that understanding can begin with food.
“Food is delicious and when people eat food made with love, you can feel it,” she said. “The way that food connects us with memories and family and tradition, it really connects us all.”
If you go: Tickets should be purchased before the event. Food is not included in the ticket price. There are no refunds or exchanges. Tickets and the full list of vendors is available at theworldsfare.nyc.