The "Orient Experience" Restaurant in Venice, gets exposure on the on Netflix series Waffles + Mochi with Michelle Obama.
The two characters from the Waffles + Mochi series land in Venice at Hamed Ahmadi, the founder of the "Orient Experience" restaurant chain between Cannaregio, San Barnaba and Campo Santa Margherita. « Cinnamon smells like a dessert!", exclaim Waffles and Mochi, the two fictional characters of the Netflix series "Waffles + Mochi" with Michelle Obama, produced by Higher Ground, the production house owned by Barack and Michelle herself. To discover the world of spices, the little yeti with waffle-shaped ears and his companion Mochi (the typical Japanese rice cake) landed in Venice at Hamed Ahmadi, the founder of the "Orient Experience" restaurant chain in Cannaregio. , San Barnaba and Campo Santa Margherita. First the gondola ride on the Grand Canal, then the two puppets sit at the table discovering the scent of cardamom, cinnamon, the consistency of cumin present in the dishes prepared by refugees who mix traditions and flavors.
According to Ahmadi, they were chosen for the series because of the restaurant's social impact but also the theme of spices which is at the core of the food offered. Filming took place at the end of 2019.
The Netflix series of Waffles + Mochi is about Waffles and Mochi who live in the Land of Frozen Foods and, even if whatever they cook is shaped like ice cubes, they dream of becoming chefs and eating real dishes. One day, by chance, they reach Michelle Obama's supermarket, who has created a garden on the top floor. And, from episode to episode, they travel around the world. In the seventh episode the two have combined a problem that has dyed the supermarket black and white and try to find a solution, landing in Venice. Ahmadi also takes them to Gino Mascari's Ruga degli Spezieri, where the Waffles and Mochi will find the chili pepper that will recolor the supermarket. "It is nice that this program is aimed at children, that we are talking about healthy foods.
La Ruga degli Spezieri, owes its name to the numerous shops and workshops that followed one another along the road and where the "Spezieri da grosso", among other things, prepared sweets covered with sugar or honey, based on almonds, pine nuts, anise, coriander, cedar and pears, as well as delicious jams.
The Venice refugee restaurant "The Orient Experience" tells migrants’ journeys via food. In an ambience of colorful interior and glinting metal ornaments, restaurant entrepreneur Hamed Ahmadi and his staff serve up dishes from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Turkey and Greece and more. Ahmadi arrived in Italy from Afghanistan in 2006 to present a documentary at Venice Film Festival. However, as the situation back home worsened, Ahmadi and his team were forced to seek asylum in Italy and move to a reception centre near Venice. The centre was Ahmadi’s home for eight months, and it was during this period that the first successful events occurred that would lead to a flourishing chain of restaurants. After a few months, Ahmadi established an informal language exchange between the centre’s occupants and students of Venice’s Ca Foscari University studying oriental languages. The restaurant started out as a takeaway joint and soon became popular with locals. “We have a lot of vegetarians foods which, in that period, was not common in the city but was becoming fashionable,” explains Ahmadi. It also provided a low-cost food option in a city notorious for its pricey restaurant scene. Not long after, Ahmadi opened another branch which, in 2016, provided space for sit-in diners. Most of Ahmadi’s staff are recruited from the reception centre. Although most have never experienced work in a restaurant, they can intern for a period, and then have the chance to become employees and even business partners.