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Finding Sanctuary in ‘Cooking’

Ali and John

A young man who found sanctuary in Bristol after fleeing his native country is now making his name in the culinary world. Ali, who only developed his love of cooking after arriving in the city five years ago, has excelled in his field and is currently a head chef and company director at a top local restaurant. Having recently celebrated his 21st birthday, Ali isn’t stopping there. He plans to open his own restaurant in the next year serving British food with a twist, using locally sourced ingredients. Commenting on this dream, he says “I found my passion for food here and it’s where my dream of having my own restaurant was born and where my dream will come true. That’s why I love Bristol.”

Having fled Albania at the age of sixteen, Ali then spent time in the camp in Calais before finding sanctuary with his foster dad John in Bristol. It was here that he became interested in cooking, enrolling onto a course at City of Bristol College, whilst also watching any cooking show he could glue his eyes to. He has since spent nine months working for a Michelin-Starred chef, an accolade that he also has his heart set on.

Despite coming here at such a young age, Ali is now having to apply to renew his Leave to Remain. His foster brother Samet, who dreams of being a carpenter, has been threatened with deportation, sparking off a huge campaign to grant him Leave to Remain. Because of this, John and Ali are preparing letters of support in case his renewal is refused. We will keep you updated on any developments with this.

“I came to Bristol with nothing but hope. Here I found a safe place where I felt supported and loved. People here have believed in me and taught me so much.” Ali is a shining example of what we already know. That behind the statistics, there are so many stories; stories of people enriching the place they seek sanctuary.

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