Spice Kitchen’s chef Abudu hosts fundraiser Yemeni children

Abudu from Kafe Mamai was joined by Spice Kitchen from the International Rescue Committee (IRC) in Salt Lake City to raise money for Yemen.

Abudu works to prepare food that reflects his African-Caribbean cuisine, including cinnamon-dusted plantains and bhajia.

Photo: Ali Myers/IRC

Meals center on our culture, our ideas of home and family, they open up the community to a broader table. Sitting down to eat together can be powerful. Of all the questions that come up when opening a food business, though, Abudu of Kafé Mamai acknowledges that ’why’ is the most complex. For Abudu this may be especially true. While he loves to share his “culture and experience,” he is also passionate about using his small business to support others in his local community and around the globe. In August, Abudu worked to organize a fundraiser in support of Yemeni children. 

Abudu, like several others who are aware of the Yemeni crisis, has felt called to action. Yemen lies at the center of concurrent crises. While war threatens the lives of citizens, cholera and the coronavirus remain critical concerns as well. Two-thirds of the population are at risk of starvation. The risk of famine and hunger in particular spurred Abudu to begin raising money for Yemeni children to support efforts to increase access to food. 

“I come from a culture where it doesn’t matter where you’re from,” Abudu shares. “You always show hospitality. Even if you’re not eating, if someone comes here as a guest, you feed them.” In this case, Abudu is feeding people locally in order to feed families halfway across the globe. 

Abudu originally lived in Lamu, an island off the coast of Kenya, significant in Swahili culture and history and noted for its distinct architecture. He has lived in the states since 2001 and moved to Utah in 2016, where he quickly joined the Spice Kitchen Incubator program. He officially launched his food truck in 2019.

Abudu from Kafe Mamai was joined by Spice Kitchen from the International Rescue Committee (IRC) in Salt Lake City to raise money for Yemen.
Abudu organized the fundraiser for Yemen, calling upon food trucks across the city to support his cause. Photo: Ali Myers/IRC

“I like that his cuisine highlights his experience and travels,” Kate Idzorek, the Spice Kitchen Incubator program manager, says of the Afro-Caribbean influenced business. Abudu works to constantly improve Kafé Mamai, but he also dedicates time to the well-being of other entrepreneurs by checking in on them. “He’s a shining star,” Kate says. “He advocates for himself and others.” 

When Abudu first pitched the fundraiser last year, he started it as part of Spice To-Go, a hot meal pick-up service facilitated by Spice Kitchen Incubator. The staff at Spice Kitchen were eager to support his idea. This year, he wanted to do more: “Because [coronavirus] has taken over everything else, we don’t talk about things like Yemen,” he says. “It’s not that these things don’t happen [in the U.S.], too,” he explains, talking about hardship experienced in the U.S., like homelessness and hunger. “But it’s different. Worst comes to worst, we have resources.” 

All of the profits that Abudu earned during the fundraiser went towards the humanitarian crisis in Yemen. To further the reach of the fundraiser, he organized other food truck

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