Plating up Persian heritage

SalamaTea cafe owner, Hamed Allahyari with his zinc plate. (Damjan Janevski) 411886_04

Hamed Allahyari’s Sunshine Cafe, ‘SalamaTea’, employs people who are newly arrived in Australia as part of a personal mission to help them establish connections and support them with employment and training.

Hamed arrived in Australia in 2012 as an asylum seeker after fleeing Iran, and has since called Melbourne home. His life revolves around food and sharing his Persian cultural and culinary heritage with the community.

Recently, Hamed was featured in episode three of the ABC show, ‘Extra-Ordinary Things’. Journalist Tony Armstrong travels across the country to meet Aussies with ordinary things that hold extra-ordinary stories.

For Hamed, his ordinary thing was a Persian zinc plate that was sent to him by his father back home in Iran.

Hamed’s father spent six hours driving across Iran to source the zinc plate – an item that is often used in Iran to cook traditional foods on the stovetop and then served and eaten straight from the plate.

At Hamed’s cafe, the zinc plate is used to cook the humble Persian omelette, where he strives to put in the same love and care that his mum used to.

“Cooking on this plate I feel like I’m presenting one of the most cultural dish, which [is] not really big to many Iranians. It’s just an omelette, a street food omelette. But to me, to cook in the zinc plate, to serve it in the same plate, for me, it’s big,” Hamed shared in the episode.

“… This is like sharing my culture, and I love that. I think it’s [the] journey of my life. Maybe it has a sad story, but at the end I’m happy.”

To watch Hamed’s episode, visit

Hannah Hammoud