As part of their plan to expand their kitchen and programming, the Army’s Boundless Vancouver corps has launched a new initiative to embrace their diverse community. The multicultural cooking class, introduced by Pamela Burt, food co-ordinator and special events co-ordinator, engages members of the community in two-hour classes for cooking and culture sharing.

“We find volunteers, neighbours or people who walk through our doors, people from all different cultures, and we ask them if they are interested in leading a cooking class,” explains Burt. Each class is offered as a two-part series, the first part teaching appetizer recipes and the second part teaching a main dish. “I want to give people a chance to shine and teach about food and their culture."

In addition to cooking, the classes allow time for leaders to share stories of their families and cultures. Burt, who has a background in culinary nutrition, adds health and nutrition lessons to the class. “I think it’s a great way to bring in neighbours, share what we do at Boundless and build relationships,” she says.

The first class, which took place in February, was led by a Syrian refugee and former caterer who taught a traditional baba ganoush recipe. “We played Syrian music, we danced a little bit, it was so much fun. Everyone got to take the meal home with them, and they had a blast,” says Burt. Next, Burt is planning a class on potato pakoras with a volunteer from Pakistan, as well as an exciting three-part series dedicated to sticky rice dumplings and the Chinese Dragon Boat Festival in June.

According to Peter Cheung, community ministries director, the multicultural cooking classes emerged as part of a larger project supported by an innovation grant from territorial headquarters. This is the first part of a long-term plan for the facility’s renovation and the subsequent programs they wish to offer. “We want to recognize the innovation grant that has made this possible for us. I hope this can serve as an example of what people can do with these grants,” says Cheung.

“Our main goal is to promote the diverse backgrounds and cultures of our neighbours,” says Bernice Chiu, community relations co-ordinator. “We welcome everyone. We want to make this a place to bring people together, to enjoy food and to have fun.”

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