A new cooking club is now open at the Qajuqturvik Food Centre in Iqaluit introducing eager participants to a broad range of cooking styles and cuisines.
Thea Zuiker, the food skills coordinator for the program, helps to facilitate the cooking classes, which began on Nov. 6. She hopes members will eventually take on a leadership role and conduct the cooking classes.
“I’m hoping that people will take it (program) up and feel empowered to carry it,” said Zuiker. “Be responsible for how it moves and grows and changes because it’s not stagnant. It’ll always be changing.”
Meals from different culinary traditions are prepared weekly. The cooking club runs every Wednesday evenings from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. During the two hour workshops, participants have the opportunity to chat, cook and share the prepared meal together.
It is free and does not require any registration.
“We’re trying to reduce barriers to participation,” said Zuiker.
The community program is open to everyone of all backgrounds and ages.
Zuiker explained the goal is to create a “safe” and “welcoming” space in Iqaluit that is substance-free and family friendly.
“This is a place for everybody. It’s a place for people to connect across maybe social and cultural divides and hang out with people they may not otherwise hang out with,” said Zuiker.
Nine participants from diverse backgrounds have attended the sessions since its opening, including people from Zimbabwe, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Africa, China, and Mauritius.
“It just goes to show how much food is the equalizer,” Zuiker said. “You know, we can all connect over food. It brings everyone together.”
Besides the opportunity to have fun and enjoy diverse foods, it is the curiosity to learn about different cultures that has been attracting members to this new club.
Participant Tracy Webb, a Zimbabwean cook, believes “it is good to cook different types of food.”
“When I found out about the class, I was so excited! I wanted to learn about different things from different countries,” said Webb.
Like Webb, Alexandre Michaud from Mauritius has also been attending the cooking club since its opening in hopes to meet new people and discover new recipes.
“Cooking is a great way to meet other people, especially in this community,” said Michaud. “Also, I got tired of cooking the same things over and over again. So I was like, maybe I would discover some new recipes.”
According to Michaud, it is a good environment where people are curious to learn and share.
This “approachable” and “interactive” program is funded through Community Food Centres Canada.
“Food costs are an expense we cover through our general fund,” stated Wade Thorhaug, the executive director of the Qajuqturvik Food Centre.
Zuiker, who is fascinated by the connection between food and community, hopes the program will continue for a long time.
“I’m hoping that this will go on indefinitely,” said Zuiker.