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Restaurant operators from around the world find new home on Calgary’s ‘very welcoming’ International Avenue

WATCH: Calgary’s International Avenue provides up a real feast for the senses, serving up all kinds of different sights and sounds. And as Gil Tucker shows us, when it comes to tastes, you’ll find plenty to sink your teeth into.

Calgary’s International Avenue is at the heart of a diverse neighbourhood that provides a real feast for the senses: plenty of sights and sounds, and — perhaps most of all — no shortage of tastes to sink your teeth into.

With around 100 restaurants and other food outlets, the area offers cuisines from almost every continent.

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“Welcome to the Jakova Grill!” restaurant owner Florent Godeni said. “This is Albanian food.”

“I’m making satay ayam here,” Indonesian Kitchen owner Kartini Castam said. “Also nasi goreng.”

“Welcome to Yegna Ethiopian Cuisine and Coffee!” restaurant owner Selam Gutema said. “This is doro wat, a chicken stew.”

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Since arriving in Canada to begin new lives, the restaurant operators have been carrying on traditions from their homelands that go back a long way.

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“These recipes are [family traditions from] 70 years ago in my country,” Godeni said. “And [now] I serve my recipes here.”

“This chicken soup has lots of ginger, garlic and lemongrass,” Castam said. “We have lots of ingredients, but I’m not going to tell you all of them, because this is my secret recipe!”

“The recipes are mostly from home, from my mom,” Gutema said. “I’ve seen her cooking all my life, growing up.”

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Gutema’s Yegna restaurant has only been open six months, while Castam has been running her Indonesian Kitchen for 10 years.

Both women say they’ve found a very supportive atmosphere while operating a business in the neighbourhood.

“What I like about this area is they’re very welcoming when we are new,” Gutema said.

“This International Avenue is like a second home to me,” Castam said. “I really love [the] community — it’s a great avenue and great people.”