Flavours From Our Neighbours – The St. James Town Catering Collective
Flavours from our Neighbours is a vibrant lip-smacking catering collective initiated by a group of passionate St. James Town residents. The initiative is an attempt to acknowledge the rich diversity of the neighbourhood and to create an income generation opportunity for the residents. Being a group comprising of members from diverse backgrounds, the collective’s menu reflects dishes from across the globe. Their motto is “Cooking with heart, and cooking healthy”.
For decades, residents had shared their culinary prowess with community members in informal gatherings, sharing delicious foods from diverse cultures. However, there was a lack of infrastructure to support a coordinated culinary program in the community. The events and programs in the community typically had to rely on restaurants to provide food for community events. The community saw an opportunity to merge the existing resident culinary skills, with the need for catering for events and programs for income generating opportunities for community members.
Sherbourne Health and St. James Town residents went to an event organised by the Regent Park Collective to better understand their catering model. St. James Town residents set up a meeting with members of the Regent Park Collective to understand and learn how they started their initiative. Following this, an initial team of interested residents were asked to form a team. Deeksha Gupta, a resident and community leader took the lead and held discussions with diverse groups from the neighbourhood. A dietician from Sherbourne Health partners with residents to provide support for cooking healthy and nutritious foods. The name and the logo of the collective was finalised through this process.
On 17th April, the collective organized a tasting event along with other residents and representatives from the the St. James Town Service Provider’s Network (SJTSPN). The items brought in by the 20 odd members of the collective were highly appreciated and feedback was given. In the coming days, 10 of the 20 participating members got their food handling certificates while a few of the residents already had the certificate. The collective currently has Indian, Italian, Pakistani, Mexican, Chinese and Afghani dishes on its menu apart from desserts. The menu has been carefully curated in a way that preparing a particular dish is not dependent on one individual. There are always several individuals who can cook the same dish.
The catering collective, through the ‘Love Food Hate Waste’ campaign, was able to secure their first couple of orders. The members of the collective hope that the initiative will be able to do justice to the diversity of the community and hence are looking for more participants from diverse backgrounds to join them. They also hope this will provide significant opportunities for income generation in the neighbourhood. If you are interested in joining the collective or would like to place an order please write to them at email@example.com.