Luisa's picture
Food security includes the opportunity to cook

The Challenge: 

The Question: 

Cooking as an essential need?

The Problem: 

A lot of people on the move, especially refugees, do not have access to kitchen spaces.

The Solution: 

Could a mobile kitchen advice for cooking in public spaces help?

Channels: 

In the context of our design challenge, we joined the team of “Über den Tellerrand kochen” in their KitchenHub on May 28th to taste and learn about the many different ways to prepare spinach in different countries as for example in Afghanistan, Iran, Syria or South Tyrol.

“Über den Tellerrand kochen” is a Berlin based social business, which by using food aims at “[…] creating a new togetherness among refugees and locals and achieving long-lasting integration in a process that involves people from all corners of society participating on their own initiative.” (https://ueberdentellerrandkochen.de/en/about/). About every month they organise a cooking event called “50 shades of…”. This time it was spinach. They put up different cooking stations where we were welcome to help the cooks. The informal and open-minded atmosphere made conversations of all sorts very easy. Here are some pictures of the event.

For us the most important insight we gained is the following:

The Afghan women who cooked told us that they live in a refugee camp where they do not have any cooking facility and are therefore more than happy about every chance to cook elsewhere. It relaxes and enables them to act out. Every second week they meet up at the KitchenHub to cook. To feel secured it is important to them to be only a small and female group on those days. Therefore the size of the group is kept small even though there has been an increasing demand. Such places are rare and seem to be deeply needed. We are going to cook with one of them in a park to try out whether outside cooking especially in terms of privacy is an option for them as well or not.

We heard another related story at our experimental cooking night. Three friends from Syria joined us that day. Two of them are living in an emergency accommodation. The other one got transferred to another camp. The two former do not have access to any kitchen where they live, the latter can use the shared kitchen. From time to time his two friends even join him for cooking, because they really miss doing it.

Not having access to cooking facilities seems to be a big issue. “Food security” including cooking is part of “feeling at home”. How can we enable people to do so?

Comments

Real inspiration #MaketheWorldaBetterPlate

Noemi's picture

Thanks for sharing this with us @Luisa. 

I was convinced of this approach ever since I heard Jeff, a community member in Athens telling us about Senait's Kitchen to actually provide employment for migrants - a little like a company shell. In a year they've gone through several iterations, bringing new migrants in the group of cooks, have catered to hundreds and are on their way of building a cooperative. Check out Options Foodlab: http://options.limited/about-options/

Great cooperative

Luisa's picture

Thank you @Noemi for this super interesting project link!

Also: Mazi Mas in London

Noemi's picture

Just stumbled upon this social enterprise creating community and business opportunities for migrant women chefs - especially through popup kitchens.

Mazi Mas means "with us" in Greek. "In the kitchen we speak the same language" they say.. A beautiful presentation video is here: http://www.mazimas.co.uk/our-story/ 

Safety issues?

Alberto's picture

Kitchens are kind of high-tech as home environments go. To function, they need powerful and potentially dangerous things like electricity, fire, and sharp blades. In some administrative cultures (Italy, for sure) camp administrators might feel more at ease if their "guests" are not allowed near them. Yet another case in which liability issues contribute to render people powerless. 

@Alex Levene documented several community kitchens in The Jungle. This seems to be a pattern. I think you are onto something, @Luisa !

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