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Last published on May 12th, 2017

On the 12th of May, I took part in a social enterprise combining two very important issues – cooking and refugees. SOOP, aka Stories on our plate is founded by Jolien Benjamin and Jack Flaming. I met Jack at City Hall in February 2017 and heard what their charity was offering – skills, support and knowledge through a 10 week culinary program specifically for refugees and asylum seekers. What a fantastic opportunity to give back to a very important cause! Previous to being a chef, I was a senior psychotherapist at Centrepoint, a charity for the homeless based in London. I feel its imperative to empower others by providing skills and knowledge.

Preparing ingredients together

So on the Friday, I trekked to Mile End for a day of teaching the Vegetarian module covering knife skills, organic food, sustainability, vegetarianism and an introduction to spices. Then I conducted a masterclass into some simple vegetarian Indian dishes such as tadka dal, spicy potatoes with black mustard seeds, cumin rice and crispy matchstick okra. In India, over 50 percent of the population of 1.2 billion are vegetarian. So I had plenty of recipes up my sleeve!

Demonstrating knife skills
Peeling ginger with a spoon
Crispy fried matchstick okra
Potatoes in mustard seeds and curry leaves

The students were from Syria, Nigeria and Sudan. They all had a background in food and were all keen to get stuck in preparing the dishes. Then we all sat down to enjoy a meal while I answered questions about starting out in the food business and in particular setting up supperclubs. After lunch, it was a student’s turn to do the teaching where I got an opportunity to learn about Nigerian food. By the end of the day, I left having met wonderful people and I hope to meet with them again in the near future.

Lunch is ready!
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SOOP, Stories on our plate collaboration 12 may 2017