ARS Tsiran chapter sells out manti-making event with chef Pierce Abernathy

Photo: David Grigorian

In 2023, the Manhattan Tsiran chapter of the Armenian Relief Society (ARS) was established, a nonprofit 501c3 committed to fundraising for various projects in Armenia. The ARS has been instrumental in providing essential relief efforts in the homeland. The ARS Tsiran chapter aims to foster community engagement through events highlighting Armenian food, art, music and dance, celebrating the vibrant cultural heritage.

On June 2, 2024, ARS Tsiran delved into Armenian cuisine with a two-part fundraising series, partnering with renowned content creator and chef Pierce Abernathy for a manti-making workshop at St. Illuminator’s Armenian Church. With over half a million Instagram followers and recognition from prestigious publications such as The New York Times and Financial Times, Abernathy’s dedication to Armenian cuisine, inspired by his great-aunt’s cookbook “Please Pass the Pilaf,” attracted a sold-out crowd within a day of ticket sales and a waitlist of over 75 people. Attendees learned to prepare vegetarian and lamb manti, indulged in Armenian string cheese and baklava, and sampled wine from Karas, sponsored by Remedy Liquors. The event raised over $8,000.

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“I didn’t grow up with a deep connection to my Armenian roots. I visited my dad’s family a few times a year, and my grandmother would make pilaf, dolma and Armenian string beans,” said Abernathy. “We’d speak about her parents and how they immigrated here from Armenia during the Genocide, the Armenian church she went to every Sunday and the closeness of the little diaspora in Richmond, Virginia. It was only until I grew older and started to cook when I became more interested. I learned my great-aunt wrote an Armenian cookbook in the 70s, and it soon became one of my most cherished possessions.”

Taleen Setrakian and Lara Bogossian led the manti workshop concept and said: “Being Armenian isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach, so our events are an opportunity to foster appreciation for our culture through educational vignettes in art, music, dance and cuisine. The feedback in tandem with new faces and friendships we’re forging has been incredible, and we’re only getting started.” 

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Continuing the culinary journey, on June 6, Tsiran and Abernathy hosted a pop-up lahmajun restaurant at Leo in Brooklyn. For one evening only, Abernathy and his team prepared fresh vegetarian and lamb lahmajun, with proceeds benefiting ARS Tsiran initiatives.

Back in March, ARS Tsiran organized its inaugural event — a sold-out Armenian folk dance workshop, also at St. Illuminator’s Church, drawing over 100 attendees with an additional 50 on the waitlist. The event raised over $6,000, featuring live music by an Armenian band and teaching participants five traditional dances: Laz Bar, Sepo, Bijo, Pampouri and the Haleh, reflecting the unique style of the American-Armenian community on the east coast.

For more information on the ARS, please visit: To join ARS Tsiran, visit and follow

ARS Tsiran chapter

ARS Tsiran chapter

The ARS Tsiran chapter of Manhattan, New York was established in 2023 as the 34th chapter of the Armenian Relief Society of Eastern USA.
ARS Tsiran chapter

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