Foodhini Partners with Whole Foods to Showcase the Cooking of Immigrant Chefs

Food delivery start-up continues to expand it’s mission of using food to create sustainable jobs

Words and photos by Jessica Wolfrom, Edible DC contributor

Noobtsaa Philip Vang  prepares take out lunches at Foodhini’s new dedicated takeout counter at Whole Foods Foggy Bottom.

Noobtsaa Philip Vang prepares take out lunches at Foodhini’s new dedicated takeout counter at Whole Foods Foggy Bottom.

You can’t hate someone who feeds you.

That’s the mindset of Noobtsaa Philip Vang, founder and CEO of Foodhini, a food start-up that’s been delivering delicious meals made by immigrant chefs to the District.

Now Foodhini is reaching beyond delivery service with the debut of its first food stall this week in partnership with Whole Foods Market’s Foggy Bottom location.

Syrian Chef Majed Abdulraheem will be in charge of the Foodhini operations at Foggy Bottom.

Syrian Chef Majed Abdulraheem will be in charge of the Foodhini operations at Foggy Bottom.

Helming the grill for the kick-off is Majed Abdulraheem, a trained chef who fled Syria with his wife and two daughters in 2016. Abdulraheem will be serving up Syrian dishes like chicken shwarma wraps, hummus and jarjeer (arugula) salad, Monday through Fridays from 11:30 AM to 2:30 PM.

But if chicken isn’t your thing, don’t despair. Foodhini’s chefs will work on three-month rotations at Whole Foods, highlighting chefs from a vast array of food cultures.

“Because of the diversity of our chefs,” Vang said, “we are able to have a diversity of menu. We have a great vegan menu, we have a great vegetarian menu. We even have gluten-free options.” Foodhini’s team consists of chefs from all over the world, including the Philippines, Syria, Tibet, Iran, Isreal, Eritrea, and Laos.

Syrian Chicken Shwarma wraps created by Chef Majed.

Syrian Chicken Shwarma wraps created by Chef Majed.

Syrian-style hummus and handmade pita, one of the comfort foods Foodhini prepares.

Syrian-style hummus and handmade pita, one of the comfort foods Foodhini prepares.

It was Laotian food that gave the jumpstart to Foodhini. Although Vang grew up in Minnesota, his parents immigrated to the United States from northern Laos. Vang grew up eating Hmong food, but when he moved to D.C. to pursue an MBA at Georgetown, he found himself craving his mother’s cooking. “You can always find great food in your mom’s kitchen,” he said.

This is very much Vang’s attitude toward the menus he and his chef’s put forth at Foodhini. Vang isn’t interested in dining that’s been dressed up. Instead, Vang asks his team, “What do you cook for your family? What do you make for parties? What do you serve to the people at home?” Home cooking is what he’s after.

“One of the things that you hold onto through all the traveling and the journey here,” Vang said of immigrant communities, “is the food. And that travels pretty well.”

Now, Washingtonians don’t have to travel far to find comfort foods from all over the world.

To Vang, the District was the perfect place to jump-start his business and help his team of chefs lay down some roots. “At the end of the day, D.C. is a melting pot. It’s a great mixture of people and cultures,” he said. “People here are adventurous. They are open-minded, and they want to try different stuff.”

The Foodhini team itself is an unlikely mishmash of people. It is a community that does not share a common language or religion, but have found common ground in the diversity and universality of food.


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@jessicawolfrom

Jessica is a freelance writer covering food, wine, farming and the environment in and around Washington D.C. She's also a graduate student at Georgetown University, getting her masters in journalism. When she's not in school, you can likely find her sipping on something sparkling somewhere in the District.