Open Kitchens | Online Cookalongs 2021

Last year we worked with six learners who wished to challenge themselves with their English language and presentation ksills, by leading participants through a homecooked dish that they love and are proud of. This year, the same teachers are bringing you a fresh new number of dishes and meals to join in with!


Rasha’s Kubbeh | crispy bulgar wheat dumplings with lamb

Karolina’s Ćwikła | Beetroot & Horseradish w/ wild mushroom & sauerkraut pierogi

Here’s what some of our participants said about last year’s cookalongs:

“I found it to be a really fun and joyful experience, one that not only gave me some cooking knowledge but gave me a sense of connection and hope – in times like these, that’s a precious commodity!!”

Participant Open Kitchens 2020

“It was such a lovely experience and a great activity to learn a new skill and spend some time with others during lockdown! I learned new skills that I can take with me cooking other things, used new ingredients, and made new dishes I am excited to make again”.

Participant Open Kitchens 2020

“I have been recommending it to everyone”

Participant Open Kitchens 2020

“I did it with my daughter so it was great experience for both of us in so many different ways – meeting someone new, meeting someone who has come from a different country and wanting to better herself, getting to make and eat something we never would normally would and generally a very positive experience”.

Participant Open Kitchens 2020

Rawia and Mais making Shishbarak | lamb and parsley dumplings in a hot yoghurt and garlic sauce

PROJECT BACKGROUND | During the COVID19 pandemic of 2020 and subsequent lockdown, we have had to keep ourselves and loved ones safe and healthy by staying at home. This has had significant changes for the education industry, and for Heart & Parcel provision to develop free, meaningful English language skills through cooking in an inclusive and relaxed environment for women who have recently arrived in the UK. We were concerned we would let down our long term users and also not be able to provide for new users who require ESOL provision. 

As a result, we, like many others Education providers had to find creative and innovative ways of continuing our provision online. 

One of these immediate solutions was to livestream free Cooking & English classes from our youtube channel, each week cooking a recipe from our Heart & Parcel cookbook (the recipes which were created and given to us by our learners), giving homework and then providing zoom classes that learners could join to practise their communication skills with their classmates and volunteers. 

These were incredibly successful and well received, however for us it was more than online English lessons; we wished to keep forging toward our original values of empowerment and community through learning, that is, our aims for learner-led sessions, and the positive effects of our work extending beyond the classroom and into our communities through our public facing events and inclusive work with volunteers, fostering social networks in the neighbourhoods and spaces where the women we work with reside. 

Over this Autumn, Heart & Parcel learners will deliver and teach their own ‘cookalong’ – a cooking class where members of the public will be able to join online to make delicious homecooked meals. The cookalong involves cooking a dish chosen by each of our learners from start to finish, exploring new flavours, cooking techniques, ingredients, stories and will no doubt be an evening of fun, sharing and learning. 

Our learners are currently attending weekly online training sessions mastering their digital literacy, presentation and communication skills, and learning how to demonstrate their existing cooking and knowledge to a wider audience – all through the medium of English.

Through this, we aim to support our learners to build confidence, reduce isolation and improve everyday English and digital literacy skills. At the same time we hope to develop stronger effective connections across communities through the sharing of food and informed knowledge often hidden and invisible in today’s society, breaking down those common misconceptions around migration, food, cooking and identity.

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