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‘Learning and collaborating’: Diverse flavours delight taste buds at Perth’s The Table Community Food Centre

Project Assistant Haley Wolk (second from left) poses with Table volunteers Brenda Caders, Krystyna Chelminska Kim Botsford, and Jean-Robert Anthony. – Submitted photo

Flavours from around the world are being celebrated at Perth’s The Table Community Food Centre.

Support from Feed Ontario’s Feeding Possibilities grant initiated the Cultural Celebrations Project in December. This project introduces monthly cultural celebrations during The Table’s regular community meals, held from 4:30-6 p.m. every first Friday of the month. Feedback from participants, staff, and community members has been “overwhelmingly positive,” according to a media release from The Table.

The Cultural Celebrations Project aims to provide exposure to diverse cultures in the evolving demographics of Perth. Each event transforms The Table’s dining hall with cultural decorations, music and delicious smelling cuisines. The focus is on immersing attendees in a specific culture, with staff, volunteers and community members collaborating to bring it to life. Community chefs work alongside volunteer cultural ambassadors to craft menus that offer authentic experiences and may inspire participants to replicate dishes at home.

In addition to cultural immersion, the project seeks to ease access to ethnic ingredients and demystify ethnic cooking. The monthly cultural meals have seen a notable increase in participation, averaging a 44 per cent rise on the first Friday of each month.

“These events have been so rewarding to participate in because each one takes on a life of its own,” said Haley Wolk, assistant to the Cultural Celebrations Project assistant. “The spirit of each culture being celebrated comes to the forefront. Participants and community members share experiences, learn together, and get to enjoy a pretty delicious meal at the same time.”

Stephanie Corrin, social justice and advocacy coordinator at The Table, emphasized the value of celebrating diversity through the project.

“What a joy to have the opportunity, through Feed Ontario, to honour a variety of cultures through celebration. The Cultural Celebrations Project offers a look into the food, recipes, music, activities, decor and history of various cultures. Learning and collaborating through celebration has drawn interest and stimulated a desire to welcome new experiences with our participants.”

Previous celebrations have included Hanukkah in December, Ukrainian New Year in January and Dominican Carnival in February. The upcoming event will explore Filipino culture, with rumours buzzing that a whole roasted pig might be on the menu.

The Table hopes to continue the Cultural Celebrations beyond the grant period.

“Through the lens of diversity and inclusion, the possibilities are vast and sharing a meal with your neighbour is a universal way of building bridges,” says the media release.

Dancer Johanna De Los Santos De Vásquez demonstrates the merengue as part of the Dominican Carnival cultural celebrtation. – Submitted photo

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