mera kitchen collective is a worker-owned cooperative.
our business is rooted in the values of equity, solidarity, empowerment, and building community.
Chef Iman arrived in Baltimore on December 1, 2016 after she learning could come to America from Jordan, where she was staying after fleeing her home country of Syria. Before the war made living her life in Syria impossible, Iman worked for years at the Four Seasons Hotel in Damascus. There, she specialized in traditional Syrian food made with both love and expert precision.
While Iman arrived in America as a widow with no family to accompany her, her warm and generous spirit has drawn in many friends. Her love for food is apparent - she cooks even the most simple dishes with love and care.
Chef Iman is known for her hummus, saffron infused charcoal smoked rice, kibbeh (finely ground meat stuffed with bulgur), grape leaves and chicken shawarma. When in the kitchen, you can often find Iman feeding the whole team — and anyone who happens to pass by.
Born in Eritrea, Zaid resettled in the US with her three children, by way of Ethiopia. She has cooked her entire life; in her home country she cooked at small restaurants. As a newcomer in the US, she often invited her neighbors over, to gather for a home cooked meal. They were from all over the world, and while they didn’t speak the same language at first, they appreciated these moments together, strengthening their sense of community. Chef Zaid has a passion for sharing her traditional Eritrean recipes, rich with spices - and is known for her spicy lentils and authentic doro wat (chicken stew).
Before resettling in Baltimore with her family, Chef Mona lived in Sudan and Egypt. Her cooking blends the best of Egyptian and Sudanese cuisine. Chef Mona is an excellent baker, known for her pistachio baklava, orange blossom semolina cakes and rosewater rice pudding. Chef Mona recently graduated from the Culinary Program at the Maryland Food Bank, bringing her skill, passion and speed to the kitchen every day.
Aisha is an immigrant from Kuwait. She engages with Baltimore’s refugee community as a mentor and interpreter. She feels fortunate to be invited to these people’s stories, seeing glimpses of their journeys to America and views on their current situation.
She believes stories are powerful in understanding the past and changing the future narrative around our newest neighbors. You can Aisha serves as Community Outreach and Interpreter Coordinator at Mera.
Aisha is a cultural broker, bridging and bringing together different cultural backgrounds, and helping to amplify self-narratives. Aisha provides the vital link to refugee and immigrant community, ensuring that at every step of the way, Mera’s decisions reflect the actual needs of the community it serves. In addition to her roles with Mera, Aisha serves on the Baltimore’s Community Advisory Board for the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs.
Aisha’s favorite food is Iranian bread made in a dive-in oven — but when she can’t find that, she loves to eat Chef Zaid’s injera and berbere-spiced lentils.
Emily came to Baltimore after working in the field with Doctors Without Borders. She brings experience in refugee and emergency contexts, including Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan and Haiti. She has seen the benefits of community-driven initiatives that emphasize empowerment and self-determination and how they build and sustain equitable communities. Such experiences provided the inspiration behind Mera.
Emily loves Baltimore and believes that we can find creative solutions to problems by working to promote ownership and equity, instead of traditional top-down systems of aid. With Mera, she is responsible for operations, finance, development and partnerships…and a lot of “quality control” testing in the kitchen.
She loves to eat and goes crazy for Chef Iman's rolled eggplant, Chef Zaid’s berbere-spiced lentils and Chef Mona’s baklava.
Liliane comes to Mera Kitchen from Cameroon. She specializes in traditional Cameroonian dishes like tripe stew, spicy peanut sauce, beignets and her famous "directeur general" or DG as they call it in Cameroon.
Liliane received her MBA in Management from the European University in Cyprus and her Masters in Management in Developing Countries from the University of Paris Dauphine. She's a 2017-2018 Baltimore Corps Elevation Grant Awardee.
When she's not cooking, she teaches English as a second language, and runs around with three adorable children. Liliane is also an expert in "power posing" and loves to eat.
While Liliane recently moved to Morocco with her family, she hopes to be the force behind Mera’s second location!
Brittany started working with the refugee community in Baltimore in 2013, when she began her position as the volunteer coordinator for the Baltimore City Community College Refugee Youth Project. Over and over again, Brittany was invited to sit, eat, have tea, and stay a while; their generosity and kindness inspired her to seek a market-based solution to share their talents with the wider Baltimore community (especially because she was homesick for her own Taiwanese mother's cooking!).
At Mera, Brittany helps coordinate volunteers, lends a helping hand (and car) to the farmers market operations, and makes signage for menus and events.