Eight Great Moments from our Telling Immigrant Food Stories Workshop

Mia Warren helping participants with audio editing. Photo: Rachael Bongiorno

Zahir Janmohamed remembers sitting around the campfire with his family at Yosemite National Park when his mom would whip out the small sandwich-press she treasured from her home country of Tanzania. With its orange handle and long metal prongs she would hold it over the open fire to toast their sandwiches. Although they might be using typical American Wonder Bread she would fill the sandwiches with ground beef, onion, cinnamon and other spices. For Zahir, his mother always used food as a way for his family to feel more at home in America and to create a bridge with Tanzania -the country they left behind, and with India – the country of their heritage.

Zahir told his story during our recent workshop: Telling Immigrant Food Stories. Held over three days at The New School in New York City, the workshop brought together eighteen journalists and culinary professionals from across the country. Participants were asked to bring an object – such as Zahir’s sandwich press – that represents their food history and culture.

Participants were trained in audio field recording and mixing and story development.  They put their new skills into practice producing multimedia stories about the objects they brought, using audio, photography and text.

1 – Recording Stories  

Workshop participants Sarahlynn Pablo and Yewande Komolafe. Photo: Rachael Bongiorno

Participant Rachael Cusick interviewing Cathy Shufro. Photo: Rachael Bongiorno

Listen to a story produced by workshop participant Shiva Bayat


2 – Audio Recording and Editing Training from The Queen of Sound

Jocelyn Gonzales, technical director of Feet in 2 Worlds, senior producer at WNYC’s Studio 360 and sound design professor at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts took the workshop participants through the fundamentals of sound, audio field recording and audio editing.

Jocelyn Gonzales teaching audio editing. Photo: Rachael Bongiorno

3 – Live Interview with Tanoreen’s Jumana Bishara

Jumana Bishara, half of the mother-daughter team who own and run Tanoreen restaurant in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, sat down with NPR’s Here & Now Resident Chef Kathy Gunst to talk about how her mother, Rawia Bishara, uses food as a connecting point to their Palestinian culture and identity.  The restaurant is a tribute to her grandmother’s cooking, Jumana said, “the way you would eat food in an Arab home is the way you eat it at our restaurant.” Although the restaurant isn’t overtly political, inevitably from time to time Jumana said, politics comes up. Their food can sometimes provide an opportunity for dialogue and other times, “we have people denying our Palestinians existence then telling us how much they love our food in the same sentence”.


Jumana Bishara and Kathy Gunst. Photo: Rachael Bongiorno

4 – The food was spectacular!

Dinner catered by Tanoreen. Photo: Rachael Bongiorno

Tacos from La Palapa. Photo: Rachael Bongiorno

5 – Pitch it… Pitch it Good.

After workshopping their stories all weekend, participants mustered up all their courage to pitch story ideas to a panel of editors from NPR, PRI, WNYC, The Kitchn and The Washington Post.  Keep an ear out for their #foodin2worlds stories!

Special thanks to Jennifer Goren, Senior Editor at PRI’s The World, Hali B. Ramdene Food Editor at The Kitchn, Joe Yonan the Food and Dining Editor at The Washington Post, Lee Hill, Senior Digital Editor, WNYC, and Robert Smith, host and editor of NPR’s Planet Money podcast.  

Yewande Komolafe pitching to the pitch panel. Photo: Rachael Bongiorno

6 – The Art of Recipe Writing

Have you ever tried to make a dish based on a recipe you found online, only to discover that it doesn’t come together the way you expected?  Stories about food and culture often include recipes, and recipe writing is a specialized skill.  To explain the nuances of recipe testing and writing and how to get people excited about cooking, NPR’s Here & Now Resident Chef Kathy Gunst, and Von Diaz, author of a forthcoming culinary memoir took workshop participants through a session on writing recipes that work.

Kathy Gunst and Von Diaz presenting how to write a recipe. Photo: Rachael Bongiorno

7 – Fi2W Alum Martina Guzmán Telling it Like it Is

Martina Guzmán, now Race and Justice Journalism Fellow at the Damon J. Keith Center for Civil Rights in Detroit, reflected on how important these training opportunities are for journalists like herself. She talked about how a Feet in 2 Worlds fellowship launched her journalism career and continues to create a much-needed community of immigrant journalists around the country.


Martina from Feet in 2 Worlds on Vimeo.

8 – Final thoughts…


Hear stories produced from the workshop here.

Funding for the workshop comes from The International Association of Culinary Professionals’ foundation, The Culinary Trust, and its Growing Leaders Food Writing program.

Fi2W is supported by the David and Katherine Moore Family Foundation, the Ralph E. Odgen Foundation an anonymous donor and readers like you.

AboutRachael Bongiorno
Rachael Bongiorno is a New York City based multimedia journalist and media educator from Melbourne, Australia. Her work has been broadcast on NPR, WNYC, ABC Australia’s Radio National, Deutsche Welle, Democracy Now!, SBS Australia, Free Speech Radio News (FSRN), and 3CR Radio. She holds a BA with postgraduate Honours from The University of Melbourne and an MA in media studies from The New School. Her stories and projects are available at www.rachaelbongiorno.com