Bridging Cultures Through Food and Cooking: League of Kitchens

by Deirdre Appel
League of Kitchens

Name: League of Kitchens

What They Do: The League of Kitchens is a culinary dream-team of women from around the world who will welcome participants into their homes, teach them their family recipes, and inspire with their personal stories. Each experience offers opportunities for meaningful connection and social interaction, cultural engagement and exchange, culinary learning and discovery, and exceptional eating and drinking. Currently they offer two types of experiences: cooking workshops and food tours. Through these experiences, the League of Kitchens seeks to build cross-cultural connection and understanding, increase access to traditional cooking knowledge, and provide meaningful, well-paid employment and training for immigrants. The current wages start at $25/hour plus reimbursement for food costs. Every year the instructors get a raise and the instructors who started out with the company from the beginning are now paid $31/hr. The instructors are immigrants who are exceptional home cooks with a deep knowledge of their native cuisines. The League of Kitchens works closely with community and cultural organizations to find instructors.  The instructors are carefully chosen, thoroughly vetted, and trained (training is paid).

How They Do It: For cooking workshops, a League of Kitchens instructor welcomes participants into their home. The participants cook together, eat together, learn together, and share their cultures and stories. Each participant goes home with a packet of the instructor’s family recipes and an in-depth shopping guide. There are two types of workshops: immersion and taste-of.

Immersion Workshops include a light lunch and introduction over drinks, hands-on cooking instruction, dinner, and dessert, while  “taste of” workshops include a welcome snack and introductions over drinks, hands-on cooking instruction, and a light meal. The 4.5-hour immersion workshops are $175 per person and the 2.5-hour “taste of” workshops are $125 per person.

The League of Kitchens food tours give participants the chance to see immigrant communities and specialty stores through the eyes of the instructors, all of whom are neighborhood regulars. The tours make 3-4 stops at a combination of shops such as markets, butchers, bakeries, spice shops, and home goods stores. All tours include food samples and insider tips, a family-style dinner at a restaurant, and a shopping guide. Tours are 2.5 hours and are $95 per person.

Mission: Bridging cultures by offering culinary workshops and tours with immigrants from all over the world

Latest project/campaign: League of Kitchens is taking on a new focus through larger team-building events for companies and organizations, in partnership with a loft space in Chinatown. Visit here for more info.

Major Funding: Revenue from the workshops and tours

Profit/nonprofit: Profit

Annual Revenue: N/A

Interesting fact about how they are working to positively affect the food system:  The League of Kitchens is working to promote cross-cultural awareness through food, and their efforts have so far been successful at the individual level. Take a look at their reviews on Yelp to see more. One participant noted that, “League of Kitchens is really a great space to learn more about different cultural foods from women who have been making these dishes for many years. It’s a highly recommended experience!” while another writes that “Our hosts, husband and wife, shared stories of life in their homeland, their upbringings, their families. From their stories and photos we learned so much about Samarkand, their home town on the Silk Road, and Sahib, who is a retired history Professor, is absolutely brilliant. I feel like I got a free course in Comparative Cultures.”

While these are just two examples, the list of positive reviews continues with 63 out of 64 reviews being 5-stars.The League of Kitchens is breaking barriers through food and using the kitchen as a vessel for exploring other customs and cultures.

FACT SHEET

Location: New York City, New York

Core Programs: Cooking workshops and food tours

Number of staff: 2

Number of volunteers: N/A

Areas served: Throughout New York City

Year Started: 2014

Manager/Founder: Lisa Gross

Contact Information: [email protected]

Website: https://www.leagueofkitchens.com

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