Successful Open Iftar Event

Our Open Iftar Night Kitchen event went very well at Moor Theater Deli on Friday 19th June as part of their Refuge Festival.  We estimate that around 60 people came and ate with us.  There was also plenty of people who took part in the activities including a radish carving competition and samosa making workshop.  We started the meal with dates and water as a traditional breaking of the fast ritual.  We had a sparkling yogurt drink with mint, chicken curry, dahl and rice for the main course and finished the meal with fruit and ice cream.  We are grateful to Seven Hills Bakery for their donation.  We would also like to thank the British Red Cross for their donation of £25.00.  As always, we are grateful to our funder, Big Lottery, Awards For All.

We had great feedback from our guests who came from multiple different countries and also many from the UK.  Phil, pictured below with Sampson from Ghana says “A very enjoyable evening as I had the opportunity to meet and talk to a number of people from accross the world including from Ghana, Uganda, Somalia and Kenya.”  



OISC 2  


Open Iftar Night Kitchen



This Friday night at Moor Theatre Delicatessen, OKSC will celebrate both Refugee Week and the start of Ramadan with a breaking of bread meal, 8 ’til late in the old Woolworth’s building, opposite Debenhams.

We hope that many of our regular members will join us and also hope to reach out to a new audience at Moor Deli, one of Sheffield’s newest and most exciting community venues.  Our event will include meat and vegetarian dishes, created by our team from both bought and donated goods.  We will entertain guests with music from around the world, provided both “in house” and on request, for a truly interactive experience.  A samosa workshop and radish carving competition will also inspire and amuse our guests.  As Ramadan will be underway by Friday, we will break bread together at Iftar, the moment that the sun sets and those that are fasting are permitted to break their fast,  In doing this, we hope to bring people of different faiths and no faith together in solidarity to celebrate the message of Refugee Week.

Our exhibition can be viewed at Moor Deli all week and there are many events taking place as part of their Refuge Festival.  On Wednesday, the Eritrean community of Sheffield will hold an event to educate people about their plight and reasons for flight.  On Thursday, a fashion show by Northern Refugee Centre will see inspiration from around the world celebrated in materials and patterns on the catwalk.  On Saturday the play Sanctum will depict a Kosovan refugee who first sought refuge in Sheffield 15 years before returning to the city – this much talked about play has touched the hearts of many hardened workers in Sheffield’s RAS sector!  Live music from Amporf folk band will be a feature at Moor Deli on World Refugee Day and ASSIST’s World Over Concert will also return, this year focussing on Africa.

Whatever you do this Refugee Week, here at OKSC we warmly invite you to join us in recognising and celebrating the contribution that refugees and asylum seekers make to our communities and culture.  Happy Refugee Week 2015



The Chickpea Challenge


We had a very serious dilemma this week – which of the two brands of “3 tins for a pound” chickpeas was the tastiest and best value?

Handily, there were some toothpicks hanging around so after a careful opening of tins the chief taster (me) was put to work.


A verdict was reached. From now on, selecting the best “3 for £1” will be that much easier! If you want to know the result, you will have to come to Open Kitchen and find out!

Occupy Asylum

Hannah has been a regular attendee at Open Kitchen. She is a student studying Occupational Therapy and is interested in using her skills to enrich the lives of asylum seekers who are forced not to take up, continue or practice an occupation of any kind through the rule that they are not allowed to work. This is an interesting area. Someone who has not worked with asylum seekers might wonder what the point would be of practicing Occupational Therapy with people who are not “occupied” in terms of employment and who are legally obliged not to work by the system that they are in. My opinion after working with asylum seekers for 16 years is that they are the ideal group to practise this area with, as unlike other peer groups there are no asylum seekers who are immune to the stresses and strains of the daily routines in which they find themselves. Just as Occupational Therapy can be applied to assist retired people who have finished their working lives, the tools and techniques involved could be employed to assist those that are forced into premature abstinence from occupation for an indefinite period of time.

Today, Hannah came along to Open Kitchen to take part in the “Challenge Hannah” challenge. Hannah opted to do stuffed peppers and there was some discussion in the facebook group as to whether this was in fact Dolma/Dolmeh, in different cultural clothes… IMG_0240It seems to have been agreed that they were in fact different dishes, but none the less brilliant and relished by all in attendance. Hannah used barley and couscous in her stuffing, as well as lots of vegetables. Like the “Jenny Challenge”, we were lacking an essential implement, a grater this time, which led to improvisation induced fun, thanks to John 🙂 John also found time to express himself over a coffee and was even seen on top of the piano at one point, but we’ll keep that one under wraps. I must also note that Jenny excelled herself once again, using up the remainder of the mincemeat from her challenge in a fruit crumble that also entailed apples, bananas, oats and chocolate covered peanuts – it was well enjoyed Jenny!

We received excellent donations from Seven Hills Bakery on Sharrow Vale Road again this week – whole crates of bananas and carrots and numerous other things that made cooking together even more fun – we really appreciate the fact that they are supporting Open Kitchen. IMG_0251

Open Kitchen’s purpose is to support destitute asylum seekers, those in the asylum system and those who have recently received refugee status who are struggling with the change in their circumstances. We also aim to support anyone in the neighbourhood where we operate who is struggling with food poverty and we appreciate that this is not something that discriminates over nationality! We have found increasingly that “born and bred” British people are including themselves in the group and this presents us with a unique opportunity to contribute to cohesion in the local community. The great thing that happens at Open Kitchen is that the traditional “visitor” and “host” roles are often reversed or go out of the window all together. While we strive to create a family atmosphere and are loathe to commersialise events by charging fees for the food and time that we offer people, we could not keep going without the generous donations that some people and businesses elect to offer us and would like to give a special thank you to all of those who have given food, money and time to keep us going.

Donations and Contributions

ok 2302 005Today at Open Kitchen we got some beautiful donations of vegetables from Seven Hills Bakery on Sharrow Vale Road and also some delicious bread from Roses The Bakers on Atlas Way, Brightside Lane.

Seven Hills is in the premises that used to be Sharrow Marrow. They have a wide range of fruit, veg and baked goodies available and also offer cooked foods so check it out if you are in the Hunter’s Bar area of Sheffield.

We were a bit worried that Seven Hills wouldn’t be able to provide much surplus for us as they are managing to be very efficient with their waste, which is great of course. They give all of their three day old bread to the Salvation Army and all of their organic scrap to pigs or compost – personally I’d like to taste some of those pigs but our Halal and vegetarian friends at Open Kitchen wouldn’t be interested in that so that will be a weekend mission!

ok2302 ipad 058Roses the bakers are a new doner for us and it was thanks to our volunteer Olly who is also working on Foodcylce Sheffield and other waste reduction projects that we got the benefit of their delicious bread today.

We supplemented the donations this week with 2 kg of chicken leg from the Yemeni shop, Filey Street, Broomhall. It’s a great shop and has everything we need that cannot be donated. They are very helpful and have a great range of food and other supplies.

Another thing that happened todaywas that a member brought along his own chess set to enjoy a game with different people in the group. It’s great to see people getting into any of the games and activities on offer, but even nicer when someone makes the effort to bring something in to share with others. Of course it didn’t interfere with the ubiquitous table tennis, seen here in the background. As usual everyone had a great time, lots of nice food to eat and enjoyed spending time with friends old and new.

Hot Hot Dolma!

28 Dolma is such a lovely dish it deserves its own blog post, maybe even its own page on the blog, or even a whole blog just for itself! One of the great things about it is that it’s something lots of people can get involved in, as folding the stuffing into the leaves and onion shells is time consuming, but also lots of fun. Another great thing is that it’s very healthy and easy enough to make meat and vegetarian versions at one time. Finally it looks absolutely beautiful on the plate and given that people tend to eat with their eyes before they taste a bite of food, it’s nice to know that we have a dish to satisfy all the senses.

At Open Kitchen we like the idea of producing dishes that people might not be able to have at home. Members from asylum backgrounds have said that they don’t often have meat due to costs and some of our English friends have said that they don’t get enough vegetables day to day, so Dolma is the perfect dish to meet everyone’s needs.


With or without Dolma, the most important thing at Open Kitchen is when everyone sits down together to eat. We have snacks and coffee before the meal and we also provide the odd take away, but eating together is really the thing that makes Open Kitchen special for everyone involved. As the people that come are from different backgrounds, cultures and age groups there is always something to talk about and we have a lot of fun. Anyone in Sheffield reading this who hasn’t paid us a visit yet, come on down! Send your friends! You will have a great time and you might even get involved with the making of Dolma!


For anyone looking at all the lovely food pictures thinking “How do they do it?” please see the short educational clip below 🙂 Bon appetit – we look forward to welcoming you soon in the kitchen!

John’s card puzzle

oksc 160215 013We’re very lucky at Open Kitchen to have a professional filmmaker in our midst.  So this Monday, while Nes was busy in the kitchen battling spinach and paneer, some of us decided to try out our own bit of video based shenanakins.   Not everyone at Open Kitchen wants to appear in pictures or film, which is fair enough really because it largely involves being a bit daft, usually for the purpose of impressing future potential funders (“Oh go on, it will be fun – the funders will love it!”).

So, this week we had a Flip camera, but the question was, what could we film and more to the point, who would be willing to appear in such a film?

Now one member at Open Kitchen who is definitely not shy is our John.  John joined the group after Christmas and he has amazed and delighted us all with card tricks and puzzles.  One such puzzle intrigued me so much that I bought a pack of cards and spent the whole weekend practising…  It seemed to be impossible to get it right and John was adamant that I’d never be able to work it out – hence the determination to crack it!

So, the plan was simple.  Get John to do the puzzle on camera, explaining it first and then doing it as fast as he could while being filmed.  I would then try to beat his time, having finally figured out how to do it after much head scratching and fruity language.  Finally, we would find a willing victim, sorry volunteer, to try to do the puzzle, of course not be able to, and prove on film that John and I are destined for the higher ranks of the magic circle.  Well the following clips pretty much say it all…  I’m particularly pleased with the genuine dismay in my voice at the end of the final clip – sadly I’m not a great actor, that was real emotion right there!  Please remember, no proper filmmakers were involved in the making of these clips!