Meet Her Kitchen Table, the social enterprise that delivers meals from around the world

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Over the years, Canberra’s food scene has seen fusion restaurants, cafes and food vans spring up across the city, offering us a variety of dishes from different parts of the world.

But with closures, restrictions and a rise in COVID cases, Canberra’s hotel scene has fallen on hard times.

However, if you love good food and support a social cause, meet Her Kitchen Table, a meal delivery service offering home-cooked meals from around the world, from Bangladesh to Palestine to Fiji, Afghanistan and more. others. All dishes are cooked by migrant and refugee women in Canberra with the aim of empowering them and helping them create their own opportunities.

Meal artists at work.

What is his kitchen table?

Officially launched in November 2021, Her Kitchen Table is a Canberra-based social enterprise that aims to empower culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) women across the territory by promoting financial independence, harnessing social inclusion, creating a network of resources and promoting diversity. . I spoke with Nazia Ahmed, one of the co-founders of Her Kitchen Table, to find out more about this exciting new venture and what it means for Canberrans.

In her “day job,” Nazia is the Managing Director of the Social Outcomes Lab (SOULAB), where she and her team use evidence to identify problems and propose possible solutions.

“The problem we were trying to solve was how can we improve the economic empowerment of culturally and linguistically diverse women in ACT,” says Nazia.

By running a number of workshops in 2018 and 2019, Nazia and her team learned that the main issues faced by CALD women were discrimination, lack of networks, language and lack of recognition of qualifications.

“We wanted to see what we could do to remove those barriers and after much thought we came up with the concept of her kitchen table. Our thought was that many women from CALD backgrounds were naturally great cooks, so why not leverage that strength to tackle the remaining barriers.

The idea is simple: through Her Kitchen Table, home cooks (known as Meal Artists) can not only sell their food through the Her Kitchen Table online platform, but they also receive training and supervision from a qualified chef, as well as business training, access to various support networks and global support for anyone who needs it. All food preparation and cooking by Meal Artists is done in a commercial kitchen.

Nazia tells me that her inspiration for Her Kitchen Table comes from her own experience as a migrant.

“I am a second generation Bangladeshi-Australian and came here at the age of ten from the Middle East. My mother didn’t speak much English and I saw how persistent she was in learning and gaining skills to become a preschool teacher. The migrant struggle is real,” Nazia tells me.

Nazia Ahmed

Looking at her own mother’s experience of moving to a foreign country, learning the language, finding work and raising a young family in a new environment, Nazia wondered how her own mother could have been so much better.

“Imagine a situation where she would make friends, get paid to do what she loves (cooking), learn English and a whole bunch of other skills along the way – that would have been pretty amazing! So d in a way, Her Kitchen Table is very personal to me, it’s my way of giving back to today’s migrants and refugees so that their journey doesn’t have to be as hard. We are already seeing positive results. and it’s pretty amazing.

Although a simple but incredibly challenging and effective concept, setting up her kitchen table was no easy task.

“Starting a social enterprise with limited funds presents many challenges. There are a number of moving parts including recruiting and engaging meal artists, online platform, training, customer acquisition, marketing and securing a commercial kitchen during COVID,” says Nazia.

Along with the challenges of setting up her kitchen table and running her consulting business, Nazia tells me that one of her biggest challenges was the two years her father spent in hospital. with a brain injury and his recent death.

“I had many team meetings at the hospital cafe. My dad was a major driver for me to continue because I knew how much he would love his kitchen table,” she says.

“The only easy part was getting other partners on board. Many amazing organizations and people have supported us to offer their support. While we had funds available, we had two key partners who joined very generously and provided pro bono services”

Nazia also tells me that all of this is possible thanks to the “partners and the incredible team of SOULAB who are all brilliant and passionate people”.

How can Canberrans support his kitchen table?

You can support Her Kitchen Table in many ways, whether it’s by ordering food, signing up as a fundraising partner, or becoming a meal artist.

Food orders can be placed on the Her Kitchen Table website, where you can see the different cuisines on offer and learn more about each of the Meal Artists and their stories.

Additionally, if you are a business that wants to get involved as a corporate partner to help with funding and implementation, contact Her Kitchen Table to see how this social enterprise can help you with your corporate social responsibilities.

Her kitchen table also does corporate caterers and recently hosted a wedding.

“Please order, give us your feedback and help spread the word!” Nazia said.

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