Events / Special Event

Common Ground Series: Shaping Spaces

A Conversation on Food and Design with Chef Nasim Alikhani and Humanitarian Layla Yarjani

Mon, March 06, 2023

5:30 PM
The James Beard House
Price: $45 Click Here for Tickets

In honor of Women’s History Month, join us at the James Beard House for a discussion with chef Nasim Alikhani and humanitarian Layla Yarjani on the intersection of food and design.  
When Nasim Alikhani opened her first restaurant Sofreh at age 59, she had already enjoyed an interdisciplinary and varied career. Design, specifically, was a lens through which she could highlight the story behind her food and restaurant. For this intimate conversation, Alikhani will be joined by humanitarian Layla Yarjani, founder of the influential #CookForIran initiative, for a conversation about creating space for women in the industry—covering career paths, the role of modern design, and the power of Iranian cuisine. Small bites prepared by Alikhani will be served along with refreshments. 
Guests arrive at 5:30 P.M. for bites and refreshments. The conversation begins at 6:00 P.M., and the event will conclude at 7:30 P.M. 
As James Beard said, food is our “common ground.” The Common Ground Event Series celebrates national holidays, heritage months, and community moments over the course of the calendar year. Series events bring in culinary talent to the iconic James Beard House for dinners, tastings, book talks, volunteer events, and more to create community around these celebratory months, and complement existing programs across the Foundation.  
About Nasim Alikhani 
Food is the language through which Nasim Alikhani best knows how to express herself.  Her earliest and fondest memories are of staying indoors during the summer as a child, preparing foods, and making jams and pickles with her mother. Coming from a tradition of strong women who are great cooks, she began cooking for large gatherings and parties at a young age. During law school while studying to be a judge, she found that her true passion was cooking for friends and classmates.  
It took Alikhani 25 years to realize her dream of opening a restaurant. In that time, she worked in various professions unrelated to food, did some ad-hoc catering, attended the International Culinary Center, interned at restaurants, and most difficult of all, pleased her twins' dissecting palates. Finally, in the summer of 2018, at 59, she opened her restaurant Sofreh in Brooklyn to acclaim. 
About Layla Yarjani 
At the age of six, Layla Yarjani was told to step on an American flag during a school-wide demonstration in Iran. With love for both her Iranian and American nationalities, she refused. Her courageous and compassionate spirit has only strengthened since and she now brings this to her work as a humanitarian, creative, and mission-driven business and community builder. Yarjani has a successful track record working in management consulting, award-winning tech startups, culturally oriented creative projects and hospitality. She previously cofounded an edtech company.   

In 2013, in her free time, she also founded Next Gen London, a community that has raised $8MM for charity by incubating & scaling entrepreneurial fundraising campaigns, including #CookForIran and #CookForUkraine. She was awarded the Women of the Future Awards and has spoken at events including in The Hague, at Tedx Cambridge University, YPO, and conferences abroad. 
All tickets are non-refundable for this event. 


Small Bites  
Koofteh Ghelgheli Ba Albaloo > Beef Meatballs with Sour Cherry, Chickpea Flour, Egg, Onions, Turmeric, and Salted Pistachios  
*Contains alliums, eggs, and tree nuts  
Kashk o Bademjoon > Eggplant–Whey Dip with Onions, Garlic, Turmeric, Saffron, Mint Oil, and Crackers  
*Contains alliums and dairy 
Zaytoon Parvardeh > Persian Olive Tapenade with Green Olives, Garlic, Walnuts, Hogweed Seeds, Fresh Herbs, and Pomegranate Molasses   
*Contains alliums and tree nuts; Vegan  
Borani Kale Ba Zereshk > Yogurt Dip with Kale, Onions, Garlic, Walnuts, Barberries, and Turmeric  
*Contains alliums, dairy, and tree nuts  
Halva Kadoo Halvai > Butternut Squash with Sesame Seeds, Rose Water, and Saffron   
*Contains sesame; Vegan 

Related Info

The Foundation is committed to providing an environment in which all individuals are treated with respect and dignity and which is free of unlawful discrimination and harassment. In keeping with this commitment, the Foundation will not tolerate harassment of guests or staff in any form at Foundation events. 


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