by Nasha Khan
The Global Bistro 2014 kicked off this year with high expectations — and with good reason too. Last year — its pilot year — was a delectable feat, inviting foodies from all through Northern California to participate in GiveLight Foundation’s exciting new venture. Once more at Silicon Valley Academy School in Sunnyvale, California, the bistro was held on April 19th against the backdrop of a sunny Saturday afternoon in the heart of Silicon Valley.
Similar to last year, the event’s theme focused on intercontinental foods, highlighting specific palatable staples unique to each country. 44 of the 300 attendees contributed to the colorful and mouthwatering assortment of desserts and savories. An international milieu featuring the cultural facets of each country greeted visitors and patrons as they explored the impressive spread.
Long, rectangular tables dressed in layers of vibrant cloth rested under decorative awnings that shielded host and guest from a generous sun. Mini Moroccan lamps hung off the awnings in sporadic gaps, lending an ethnic touch to the welcome ambiance. Propped against each table stood large displays with images and information on GL homes and their orphaned inhabitants — each display representing its hosting table’s country. Many of the tables showcased decorative traditional items, tableware and handmade flags from their corresponding countries, along with the select treats.
A variety of sweets, samplers, au devoirs, and soups sat in ceramic platters, brightly colored cake-stands, foil trays, and woven bowls — all appropriately priced and labeled (and generously listing the ingredients used for the fares). Some even noted specific allergens in the food (like wheat), keeping in mind people’s dietary restrictions. From sambosas and haleem to tarts and cupcakes, from cake-pops and cookies to soups and bun kabobs, and all the decadent goodies in between, this was truly a “virtual tour of the [global] palate — no passport needed,” co-organizer Ayesha Zia quipped. Among her favorites was the novel baklava cheesecake, while Mahira Razzak, who also helped organize the event, opted for the quintessential American dessert — the chocolate mousse. Another young volunteer, Ayra Babar (a longtime GL volunteer’s daughter), elected the hazelnut chocolate cupcakes from Germany. That each patron voted a different dish as a popular favorite, often struggling through a litany of choices, was telling enough.
Spring-boarding off last year’s success, the Global Bistro Team — with co-organizers/cohosts Zia and Razzak at the helm — made a few notable changes this time. The 2014 GL Bistro event saw many more volunteers (including children), sponsors and participants. Ten-year-old Babar proudly shares that her “Rocky Road” chocolate treat from Norway flew off the stands fairly quickly. Impressed by the dedication and “bright smiles” of the youngest participants, Razzak recalls a pint-sized volunteer walking around selling the colorful bracelets she had made herself. A string of donors like Nothing Bundt, Paris Baguette, Via Mia Pizza, Taj Mahal Imports, and Bushel Whole Blended Juices also joined GL’s bistro team — as did the Girl Scouts who provided carnival games for the children. Kids’ entertainment this year included sadaqah (voluntary charity) decorating jars along with facepainting (always a hit!), as well. Henna artists added a festive touch for girls and women of all ages, particularly during this untraditional celebratory occasion. Perhaps, what set apart this year’s event most visibly was the juice/smoothie stop — courtesy Bushel Whole Blended Juices, the tea stand — with a row of dainty teacups filled with samplings of tealeaves, and the stunning floral arrangements that guests could take home.
The 2014 Global Bistro raised a total of approximately $4,078 — all of which is aimed toward the 800 and counting GL orphanages across the map. Heartening as it is, this year’s success went beyond fundraising and the “sweet smell of baked goods and flowers,” as Zia revealed. It created more awareness of orphans and GL’s work for them. It engaged the very young to do their part in helping others, specifically other children who have lost their parents under tragic circumstances. And most pointedly, it demonstrated the GL Family’s strong bond and spirit of community that brought together people from all corners of the American global village, to work toward a common good and taste the sweetness of a worthy cause.