Cook your way around the world

3 minutes read
Posted 10 July, 2024
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"Just like cooking with friends" – that’s how Happiness House’s Coordinator Steph Burbidge describes their free bi-weekly Cook Around the World classes. Held on Tuesdays, they open up their kitchen to anyone wanting to learn to cook an international cuisine. There’s one person from the community directing each class – next week’s event will showcase Indian food.

The classes, which kicked off in April, are held in partnership with the Kiwi Kit Community Trust and with funding from Te Hau Toka Southern Wellbeing Group. Inspiration was sparked at last year’s Te Atamira Matariki celebrations, where different cultural communities were invited to host a cultural dinner. Some of the cuisines covered so far include Scottish, Korean, French and Mexican – never fear if you’ve missed out, they’re not opposed to doing a cuisine more than once.

"It was super cool to see how many people were really embracing the dinner and wanting to learn from our diverse communities about their culture,” Burbidge says. “We realised a lot of that cultural exchange really opens up when there’s food involved. The idea for us was realising how many different communities we have represented here in Queenstown – so many of them are doing things within their community, but not everyone gets to see that.”

Happiness House has a lot of connections to different communities around the region and wanted to offer a platform to showcase the different groups. Initially they had been liaising with Queenstown Lakes District Council’s Welcoming Communities to make contact with the groups. The hope is to allow people to connect, learn something new and bond over food. Recipes are designed to be easy, and they encourage those participating to replicate them at home and share with friends and family. So far, the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive with class numbers continuing to grow.

“The feedback from those that have hosted is that they’ve really enjoyed the community connection and have been really blown away by how much enthusiasm there is for people to learn about their culture, but also learn about what food means to them and how they’ve had that connection to food when they’ve been growing up in their culture.

“For the people who have been involved in it and coming along, a lot of them have said how blown away they are at being able to see so many people just communicating and connecting, and the freedom that food provides us; creating those connections with people.”

Burbidge is keen to continue the classes and represent as many of the communities around Queenstown as possible. She’d also love to get more members of the community on board who would like to host a class. For those wanting to get involved in teaching, you’ll be walking into a warm and welcoming environment. No over the top preparation is required and it’s not a stressful or intense experience – the team at Happiness House can help to guide you in the running of the class.

“It’s just like welcoming a few extra people into your kitchen and sharing what food means to you. We’d really love to hear from more communities and have them approach us to get involved. Happiness House is really a community centre for everyone – come in, join in, enjoy and get connected to the community,” Burbidge wraps up.

Happiness House’s Cook Around the World events happen every other Tuesday. The next one is happening on Tuesday, 16 July, followed by 16 August with Chile. They run from 10am – 1pm and registration is required. You can find the registration form, get more info or get involved and host a class with your own cuisine by heading to their website happinesshouse.org.nz


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