Edinburgh Research Explorer

Member : Options FoodLab: a non-profit and self-organized pop-up kitchen

Activity: Other activity typesOther

Member

1 Apr 20152016

Abstract

Options FoodLab is a non-profit and self-organized initiative that operates as a professional kitchen and co-working space for food training for refugees in Athens, Greece. I am the co-founder of the project together with Jeff Andreoni (unMonastery). We started the project in the summer of 2015 during the first big wave of refugees entering Greece. We realized that small initiatives like ours could make a change in refugees’ lives by promoting their integration in the host society, their empowerment through employment opportunities and cross-fertilization of cultural exchange. To do this, Options FoodLab has three basic activities based on collaboration, food and eating: cooking workshops, catering, and pop-up dining events where we work with refugees from across Africa and Syria who are professional cooks. Our approach to community building starts with learning each other’s cuisines. Africans teach Greeks their dishes; Syrians teach everyone to make falafel. The strength of our community and its resilience is based on this “learning & doing” together, which is one of the best ways for people to get acquainted. Next, we try to create employment and business opportunities and training. A lot of planning and organizing goes into making these events successful, and we all work together and learn from each other, seeing each other’s valuable skills in action. We have organized small pop-up dinners in private houses, a church courtyard, a co-working space and roof terraces, have served food in a solidarity economy festival and have catered for two conferences. All our events have been self-organized without any formal funding apart from private donations during the events. So far, we have been buying catering equipment with the proceeds from the donations which are collectively owned and we are looking for a space to have as our “base”, because we are still nomadic! Part of our catering projects are based on ethnographic research on food cultures and oral histories of migration.

ID: 27465825