Frequently Asked Questions
About the project
How are the asylum seekers and refugees recruited?
We work with support agencies such as the ASRC and the Australian Red Cross to recruit asylum seekers with a flare & passion for cooking and sharing. We also recruit informally through local advocacy groups and community members.
What are their training/qualifications?
All our Free to Feed instructors have undertaken a unique, bespoke training program that we have designed for this project. After passing through our rigorous recruitment process, they undertake training in cooking and communications skills, participate in trial gatherings, gain their food hygiene certification, and receive ongoing mentoring from industry experts.
Are they professional cooks?
Our grandmas are the best cooks we know, and their qualification is a lifetime of experience. We apply this philosophy to this project. What’s important to remember is that we are not teaching our instructors how to cook – they already know how! We recruit those with a passion, flare and talent for cooking their traditional cuisines. We support them to transfer their existing skills to a new environment and we’re building their capacity to present their unique stories.
Refugees and asylum seekers often have compelling stories to tell but for a range of reasons do not have the opportunity to share these experiences and connect with others. We believe that storytelling plays an important role in providing a voice for this often marginalised group, and that the intimate space of the kitchen is the best venue for it. One of the most positive outcomes of participating in this project for refugees and asylum seekers is developing their skills in expressing themselves and their stories, communicating and facilitating small groups.
Do they speak English??
Yes. Asylum seekers and refugees on our program are required to speak basic English as a starting point. We also offer all our instructors free English tutoring support. But it is you, our gatherers, who play a huge part in helping them feel more confident speaking English. They will come to your gathering ready to share their culture and cuisine; you become a part of their supporting community, advancing their language skills so that they can excel in the workforce and make new connections in Australia.
Where does the money go?
All of your contributions are reinvested straight back into the running costs of the project.We are a Registered Charity, our ABN is 45613017682.. Our outgoings include amazing local ingredients, cooking equipment, training our cooks (including with industry professionals), paying weekly rent on our kitchen HQ in Thornbury and, importantly, paying our staff a good wage!
All about food & diets!
Where do our ingredients come from?
Every week, our instructors select all the freshest local ingredients that they will need for their gatherings from Melbourne markets and speciality Persian or Sri Lankan stores. If you’d like your ingredients to be strictly organic and we will source them from CERES, please let us know and we will inform you of the extra costs.
What about vegetarians and other dietary requirements??
Our gatherings are about inclusivity, therefore we will have vegetarian (and vegan) nights too! Please let us know your dietary requirements when you’re making a booking. Most of the traditional dishes do include meat, so please advise us if this is not appropriate for your gathering or book into a veggie night.
Can we select the recipe that we will learn to cook?
No, it’s a surprise! We trust and empower our instructors to share with you the traditional dishes/recipes that they know and love and have been shared in their home-communities for generations. Please read our instructors' profiles to get an idea of what they might surprise you with. Our cookbook is coming in 2016, so stay tuned!!