To mark the coronation JRS held a special one-off community coronation kitchen programme to which refugee friends, volunteers, and staff members were invited to cook up a feast for the street party on Wapping Green.
The highlight of my day was tackling the Baklava. I’m glad to report that working with the other participants to carefully follow our refugee friends’ guidance, led to unmitigated Baklava success! The day was terrific, and everyone enjoyed learning about a range of cuisines and cultures in preparation for the coronation. In the words of one participant: “The Coronation Community Kitchen makes me feel connected with different people with different cultures and with different foods.”
JRS’ special Coronation Community Kitchen programme brought together local volunteers, refugee friends and members of the JRS team. Initially, we were tasked with creating 500 personal pizzas. Learning how to make the dough and sauce from scratch (whilst being directed by a real Italian volunteer!) was unforgettable. Participants then split into smaller groups tobake in batches whilst refugee friends produced Nigerian puff puff balls in abundance. Once all the cooking was completed, the JRS centre transformed into a café-esque social space to which everyone – not just the cooks – were invited to come and spend time together enjoying the fruits of our labours.
Community Kitchen – Where it all started
The beauty of the regular JRS Community Kitchen is refugee friends teaching one another how to cook a meal. Not all refugee friends have access to a kitchen, so the Community Kitchen gives them both the joy and opportunity of cooking and the ownership of the space together with other refugee friends. As one refugee friend shared, “Community Kitchen makes me feel amazing! I love how the group is so varied and from different walks of life. Cooking recipes from people’s cultures is a brilliant way to understand their cultures better, also chatting with others about where they are from’.
Another explained: “It has been lovely to connect with others in a fun setting and lots of laughter and everyone ‘working’ alongside each other.”
Joy as resistance is important, it provides a powerful contrast to the hostility of a degrading asylum system. Community Kitchen provides not only practical knowledge for all who attend but further celebrates the variety of cultures and personalities present in the mixing pot! Nevertheless, in the words of another happy participant: “Community Kitchen gave me a common space to find that the ‘different’ someone was not that different at all.”
The special one-off Coronation Community Kitchen was funded by Tower Hamlets, as part of the Coronation celebrations.
We are hoping to continue Community Kitchen – and similar activities – which bring refugee friends and the local community together. Can you help us?