EdmontonEats brings tastes of the world to you with meal kits
Cindy Lazarenko really wasn't expecting to become the equivalent of a food detective in 2020.
“This has honestly been one of the most challenging things I've ever done in my career,” the chef and educator laughs about her role at Edmontoneats, where she's been overseeing the social enterprise's Holiday Cultural Box Event. Tasked with gathering recipes from cultural hosts hailing from Libya, Bangladesh and Syria, Lazarenko has weaved her way around language issues, long cherished family recipes that have never been written down, and, of course, a pandemic. You remember the pandemic, right?
“That's when I signed on for the (Edmontoneats) Taste of Somalia event in March,” Lazarenko ruefully chuckles. “We were ready to go and then had to cancel. Like everyone else we wondered where to proceed from there, especially since we had sold a lot of tickets. Did we need to give out refunds?”
Thankfully not. Rather than riding out the pandemic and picking up again when things had settled down, Lazarenko, Edmontoneats co-founder Maureen Murphy-black, and the rest of the team decided to go ahead with the Somalia event in August, developing a three course meal that was boxed and then delivered on the day of. While more work than they anticipated, it also gave them the seed of the idea for their Holiday Cultural Box Event.
“Well, we couldn't do pop ups, and we couldn't partner with any restaurants,” she sighs.
“They're barely keeping up with things as it is. Then we talked about tea and spice blends, and that's where the idea for a recipe kit really came together.”
The kits come in two variations (after their Sweet Treats Box sold out quickly), the Recipe Kit Box and The Celebration Box.
The Recipe Kit Box boasts falafel mix, hariseh cake mix, chicken pasta mix, plus a curry Bengali chicken recipe with spice blends and rice kit, all occasion cards by BILD Photography, and a Somalian tea blend.
The Celebration Box has all of the above, with the addition of Honey Vinegar, Almond Rocher ( by Culina to Go), a package of black nigella seeds, and a couple of other items. As with other Edmontoneats ventures, 75 per cent of the profits go back to the cultural hosts.
“It still took us a long time to get
It all turned out really well ... We've gotten messages already from people saying they need more spices so they can make the dish again.
this going,” says Lazarenko about the boxes, which as of this writing are three-quarters sold out. “There were times when we got the measurements wrong because of a misunderstanding, and had to cross something out on the recipe card. Some of the cultural hosts are very busy with their families, and it took awhile before we got answers on a few things. It all turned out really well in the end, though. We've gotten messages already from people saying they need more spices so they can make the dish again, so there's an opportunity for us to package spices to buy online.”
KID FOOD NATION
Congratulations to Dongdao Xiao, who recently had his recipe for Pandemic Chicken selected to be in this year's Kid Food Nation cookbook.
The 11-year-old Edmonton boy is one of 27 winners from across Canada to also win a prize pack and virtual cooking lesson from celebrity chef Lynn Crawford.
The fourth edition of the
Kid Food Nation cookbook is available for purchase online at Editions-cardinal, and you can find young Dongdao's recipe at Kid Food Nation.