Something Good Is Cooking Up In Binghampton

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (localmemphis.com) - In Memphis' Binghampton neighborhood, amidst stark signs of urban blight and poverty, there is something good cooking.

 

"My dream, to open a restaurant, yes, and serve my food from my country," said Ibtisam Salih, owner of Ibti's Soup and Catering.

 

Salih left her home country of Sudan for Memphis 18 years ago for political reasons. She says she used to work a government job focused on preserving Sudanese culture.

 

"When you come here you're like a newborn. Forget your degree forget what you're doing before," said Salih.

 

The wife and mother of 3 with a philosophy degree had to restart her life from scratch, but recently launched her Sudanese food business with the help of the newly formed Kaleidoscope Kitchen program. Salih said it's been her dream.

 

"I love to bring my tastes from my country to here to America," said Salih, "They don't know about the Sudanese food."

 

Organizers described Kaleidoscope Kitchen as Memphis' first kitchen incubator.

 

"This is an opportunity for people to come here get those skills and start to progress toward economic independence, progress towards their dreams," Olivia Haslop, Program Manager for Kaleidoscope Kitchen.

 

The program started with a yearlong planning grant from the Kresge Foundation. Organizers worked with Binghampton residents and entrepreneurs to determine community needs. They then presented the foundation with a pitch for the kitchen incubator and received a $200,000 two-year grant to make it happen.

 

The Kaleidoscope program offers minority food business entrepreneurs affordable access to a commercial kitchen and business consulting on menus, pricing, websites etc.

 

Partners include EPIcenter Memphis, Caritas Village, Refugee Empowerment Program, World Relief Memphis, Wiseacre Brewing Company, Broad Avenue Arts District and Community LIFT.

 

"You scared at first how you can deal with the business." said Salih.

 

That fear fell apart as the Binghampton resident took part in the Kaleidoscope program. Ibti's Soup and Catering was picked as one of many businesses to take part in the program. 

 

Other businesses include: Aroma Kitchen Memphis, Indra's Dumplings, Inspire Community Café, and Made from Scratch Cookie Company.

 

"Here I feel the same way second family for me," said Salih.

 

Salih described her food as spicy, but not hot, and a melting pot of the 500 or so tribes that make up Sudan.

 

The food is filling, but in the end, it serves more than an appetite.

 

"Somebody says wow your food taste amazing. I said that's my love to share with you," said Salih.


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