Way ahead of TV’S re­al­ity food shows


The Mi­grat­ing Kitchen was an idea long be­fore tele­vi­sion food sa­faris be­came the vogue.

‘‘We had the peo­ple and their cul­tures right here in New Zealand. The idea was for refugees and mi­grants to tell their sto­ries, to help break down bar­ri­ers and prej­u­dice, with food as the en­tree,’’ says Anna Cot­trell.

The well-known broad­caster and tele­vi­sion doc­u­men­tary maker’s idea seemed to fall on deaf ears. ‘‘ No- one ap­peared in­ter­ested,’’ she says. ‘‘It was an idea ahead of its time, but with my col­league Jen­nifer BushDaumec, we turned the idea into a se­ries of ex­hi­bi­tions and me­dia events.’’

What tele­vi­sion re­jected has been picked up by oth­ers who re­alised the po­ten­tial and power in what was be­ing of­fered.

Now the Mi­grat­ing Kitchen Trust puts on shows and ex­hi­bi­tions in dif­fer­ent parts of the coun­try, with one planned for Palmer­ston North at the newly re­fur­bished Te Manawa Gallery, open­ing at the end of March.

‘‘We’ve had three very suc­cess­ful ex­hi­bi­tions at Pataka mu­seum and we’re look­ing for­ward to the one day event at the Fes­ti­val of the El­e­ments Wai­tangi Day cel­e­bra­tions,’’ Ms Cot­trell says.

At Te Rau­paraha Park, the Mi­grat­ing Kitchen prom­ises a rich mix­ture of colour, cul­tures, sights and sounds, and al­lur­ing aro­mas. All un­der the canopies of two huge Moroc­can tents.

‘‘Com­mu­ni­ties tell their own sto­ries – sto­ries full of ad­ven­ture, ad­ver­sity, ro­mance and hope . . . and food is the medium.’’

The Mi­grat­ing Kitchen Trust is a non- profit or­gan­i­sa­tion, fi­nanced through grants, do­na­tions and spon­sor­ship.

‘‘The Trust was set up be­cause we are aware that lone­li­ness and iso­la­tion are con­stant com­pan­ions as peo­ple ar­rive and set­tle in a new place,’’ Ms Cot­trell says.

‘‘Lan­guage dif­fi­cul­ties, sepa­ra­tion from fam­ily, ab­sence of cul­tural and spir­i­tual net­works may lead to de­pres­sion and con­flict. The Trust ad­dresses these is­sues by invit­ing com­mu­ni­ties to take part in Mi­grat­ing Kitchen ex­hi­bi­tions.’’

‘‘Food and its prepa­ra­tion is a won­der­ful way for peo­ple to meet,’’ Ms Cot­trell says.

‘‘ Of­ten for those who have come here as refugees it’s their best chance to be heard. We all have cus­toms around food, and our ex­hi­bi­tions avoid the di­rect ap­proach, which some­times can be in­tim­i­dat­ing.

‘‘ The Mi­grat­ing Kitchen en­cour­ages peo­ple to have a voice. And there’s fab food.’’

Ex­po­sure: Sto­ries from other cul­tures are told and tasted in the Mi­grat­ing Kitchen. Pic­tured left is the con­cept’s cre­ator, Anna Cot­trell.

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