You’re probably 8 years old. It’s probably Sunday. Your mum invites your auntie for tea. Your auntie brings your cousin along. You find your cousin a bit weird, and you’re no sure what to say to him, but the adults talk about boring or difficult things, so you bring him into your room. You empty a box of Lego, and you start building a city out of multi-coloured construction blocks and little yellow people. Or you show him your Kinder egg figurines collection, and you start building a city out of random objects lying around in the house. Your cousin is a bit older, and much better at playing “Lego” or “Random Objects” than you are, so he shows you a lot of good tricks to consolidate the pizza delivery castle you are trying to build. But despite your cousin’s best efforts, the pizza delivery castle doesn’t resemble a pizza delivery castle at all, so you collectively decide to turn it into a flying haunted island. And that’s OK, because anyway, you only found one pizza in the whole pile of lego pieces you emptied earlier, and one pizza is not enough to feed the city you have built, given that it is almost large enough to cover your whole room.
By the end of the afternoon, your cousin is your best friend, and you don’t think he’s weird anymore. There is also this amazing sense of accomplishment, as you are planning hours and hours of stories to make happen in your newly built playground.
Well, this is a bit of a long-winded story to share what happened to the Brixton People’s Kitchen team a couple of weeks ago, when we built the mobile kitchen.
We had a playground, The Remakery, with a limtless supply of stuffs, commonly called junk, which we rummaged through to find the perfect materials for our mobile kitchen (“A cd tower for a spice rack, of course! An old door for kitchen table, well yeah, that makes sense”). Working in The Remakery meant that the whole kitchen was built from recycled materials, just like our meals are cooked with food that would have otherwise been wasted!
We also had an older cousin, who knew better than us, and showed us loads of tricks. Or in fact 2 cousins, Per & Malte, who aren’t our cousins at all, and who came all the way from Hamburg, in Germany, to show us how to build a mobile kitchen, and to run some spontaneous cooking sessions at the same time. We were quite blown away by their skills and their generosity, and think they are a bit more than human.
And we had that amazing feeling of accomplishment, when we realised that the bike was ready two days earlier than expected, and showcased it at our launch event, on Sunday 28 April, in Myatt’s Fields Park. It was one of the best attended and most open event we ever ran, and we are very grateful to everyone who came for that.
All in all, it was an awesome week, and it made us think a bit more about how the people’s kitchen events works. A big factor in making this week so successful was the joy of making. Building something almost from scratch, with a bunch of strangers, learning from them, and trusting them to combine efforts towards the same purpose is empowering, and has something magic about it.
I guess this applies to our events too. Most of the volunteers join because they are interested in the cooking side of things, and the most enjoyable moments are when people who don’t know each other start improvising a dish together, building on each other’s skills and creativity. We haven’t always been that great at facilitating this, and some times, it works better than others. But having realised that the love of cooking (and making) is what keeps a lot of us motivated and excited about the project, we want to make a bigger deal of how the volunteer cooks experience the events, so that we can ensure more skills sharing and creative interactions happen. It’ll make the eating even more worth it!
So if you have volunteered as a cook in the past, please share your thoughts! And if you’d like to volunteer as a cook, make sure you let Camilla know beforehand: firstname.lastname@example.org
PS: Thank you Tom for your amazing organising skills, Per & Malte for everything, Roman for turning a dead bike into a functioning bike, Bella for applying your incredible sign painting talents to making the bike look beautiful. And thank you to all the volunteers who popped by, including Chris, Ed, Emma, Adele, Christine, Esther, Owen, Robert, Alex, Kishan, Chloe, Frances, Camilla, Fan, Winford, Jake, and all the Remakery volunteers for your work and advice on the bike!