It’s six months since we opened the Community Kitchen with a crazy garland of garlic and a frenetic fortnight of activities. It’s been amazing to see how far our cookery school with a difference has come in this time. When we imagined our kitchen, we wanted to create a home for our work on food, a place where people could come to learn about food, share food and above all enjoy food. We wanted a space that inspired people, that was friendly and welcoming, was clean and safe – a great space to cook in but also a place with a heart.
A glance back at the kitchen diary over the last six months shows an incredible range of activity (more than a hundred sessions) and just how far we have come to achieving this vision in a short space of time.
Classes have included world cuisines such as Thai, West African, Indian and Moroccan and people have practised techniques including baking, tempering, steaming and frying. We have run community courses for adults with Learning Disabilities, for people with Dementia and the Jamie’s Ministry of Food course for beginners. For people who cannot afford the course fees we run a bursary scheme funded by donors who ‘paid it forward’.
Our line-up of events has included: a monthly breakfast club for Age UK veterans, community groups such as Refugee Radio and Fareshare holding events for their volunteers, Plumpton College’s Open Day, a Bake Off 30th Birthday Party, and local businesses having team bonding away days. We’ve hosted chefs from the city’s top restaurants including 64 Degrees, Isaac At, CinCin, Sugardough Bakery, Silo, Humble Plates, Minesh (of Indian Summer/ The Kari Club), and the Coal Shed – all giving their time for fundraising Masterclasses. We’ve already had so many different people sitting around our dining table.
Behind the scenes the team of staff and volunteers that keep the space spic and span and running smoothly are the kitchen superheroes. From systems for composting any waste, making signs for every cupboard to having to separate the wooden spoons for curry making from the wooden spoons for baking we’ve learnt a few tricks on how to run this busy space.
And everyone involved was able to leave a lot earlier and felt a lot happier when we raised enough money for the commercial dishwasher and washer dryer! (Special thanks to Chef Kanthi and Bookie of the Chilli Chicks for their fundraising classes, Infinity Foods for donating the washer dryer, Trolls Pantry for donating our freezer, and all of you who donated to help us reach our #SepTenner total)
Our social enterprise model means that community cookery activities are subsidised by funds raised from chef masterclasses, paid places on cooking classes and venue hire (including team building/ events/ private group classes). We are also very grateful to the grant funders that are supporting work with schools (Fonthill Foundation) and community groups (Heart Research UK, Oak Foundation, People’s Postcode Lottery and the CCG) that allows us to run a wide range of community activity whilst our new social enterprise establishes.
But the Community Kitchen is also YOUR Kitchen in so many ways. It only opened thanks to the generosity of people and local businesses in the Crowdfund and we continue to benefit from people who believe in the work that we do giving us discounts, free stuff and sharing their expertise.
If you want to be part of Brighton and Hove’s most exciting development of 2018* here are 7 ways to get involved:
- Cook with us. We have so many cookery courses there’s bound to be something that appeals. Scroll through our calendar of events to find out what. Bring a friend and you get a £5 discount on your course place or buy a voucher for someone else.
- Refer people to us. We run free / low cost community courses and currently have courses for beginners, people with dementia and people with learning disabilities although the range of community courses varies all the time. We list them on our website and in our e-news including details of any application process.
- Teach for us. We’ve been amazed by how many of Brighton’s top chefs and food experts have wanted to share their skills in the Kitchen – and we’re always looking for more to come on board. Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you’re a local food business with some expertise you want to build a course around.
- Volunteer for us. We depend on a whole host of Kitchen Superheroes. They do everything from creating a welcoming atmosphere for workshop participants to preparing the table for an end-of-course feast. Four or five times a year we hold volunteer recruitment days which we will invite you to if you have filled out the application form available here.
- Donate or ‘pay it forward’ – our bursary scheme offers low cost places on our cookery classes to people who cannot afford to attend otherwise. We have also received larger donations that funded community cookery courses and activities.
- Connect with us. Enjoy some team-building with a difference at a cookery class. It’s a memorable way to treat people in your business or organisation. Download our leaflet.
- Hire us. The Kitchen is also available for hire as a venue. So whether it’s for a special celebration, a launch event or something else, why not do it in the Kitchen?
- Shout about us! Follow us on social media and share share share. Twitter, Instagram and Facebook – it’s all @BtnKitchen. And don’t forget old fashioned word of mouth, however you do it please tell people about us.
* We admit to being a little partial here.