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The Course Helping Refugee Cooks Become Food Entrepreneurs

August 30, 2017 by Florence Wylde 

I recently had the pleasure of attending the Stories on Our Plate (SOOP) supper club at the London Cooking Project in Battersea.

SOOP is a social enterprise training programme for refugee cooks wishing to launch a career catering - the 10 week programme involves kitchen training, healthy eating advice, budgeting, language assistance, business and employability advice, and more. SOOP’s long term goal is to expand and establish a permanent community hub for programmes and dining experiences.  

After the 10 week programme, the cooks holds their own event. The events are about celebrating our differences and experiences through through taste, memories, experiences and stories from generations and different cultures from around the world. SOOP brings people together through the simple shared love of culinary memories and stories that we can all relate to.

After researching the SOOP enterprise I was really excited to be going along to the launch of new chef Shakirat and attending her event ‘From Mama to Moimoi with Shakirat’. Shakirat was warm and welcoming and we instantly felt comfortable and excited to try her meal.

Upon arrival we were greeted with an elderflower and gin fizz and a Moimoi (bean puree roll) – this was a wonderfully morish bite made from beans and red pepper– there were plenty to go around and we gladly had 4 or 5 helpings. There was a buzz in the room while people chatted and introduced ourselves.

Everyone on our table was really friendly and I enjoyed looking around and seeing how much everyone was enjoying themselves, there were lots of smiles and a great atmosphere from start to finish.

Our first course was a mix of dips; all quite different and exotic. I particularly liked the mackerel and tomato dip and the gingery avocado dip, which we ate with freshly made corn bread. A delicious start with lots of colours and flavours, all complimenting each other beautifully.

Shakirat introduced each course and told us stories about growing up and eating the dishes with her family in Nigeria. This was really touching and I was moved by her pride and enjoyment of completing the SOOP programme and reminiscing on family memories.

For the main we had a traditional Nigerian stew made from crayfish and chicken. Shakirat’s stew was perfectly seasoned and served with perfectly cooked plantain chips and a selection of vibrant salads. I could really taste the passion and love that had gone into every dish.

Lastly we had a delicious apricot and blueberry cake – this was light and fluffy and a perfect end to a lovely evening.

At the end, Shakirat asked a fellow diner - who was celebrating her birthday - to join her for a traditional African dance, the good vibes continued and we all clapped along and enjoyed the shared happiness in the room. A fine feast indeed!

Attending a SOOP event is well worth the experience – coming together and appreciating food and culture is a beautiful thing. Find out more about the amazing work and events from SOOP - Facebook (Stories On Our Plate - SOOP), Instagram (soop_stories) and Twitter (soop_stories). Shakriat has now set up her own Instagram account - dupeakinosho