Hidden away in a small community hall in south-west Sydney resides an up-and-coming youth organisation, using food and story-telling to bridge the gap between the multicultural communities of Cabramatta.
The non-profit youth-organisation, The Youth Co-Lab, hosted their first Indian-themed cooking class, named ‘Kitchen Co-Lab’, in collaboration with Seena Incorporated earlier this month with the aim of uniting the different cultural communities of Fairfield City under the love of food, and empowering young individuals to create change.
“The Youth Co-Lab was formed in early 2018 as there were no real opportunities for young people to get together and make a difference,” said Vice-President of The Youth Co-Lab Thomas Dinh.
Dinh says that the Kitchen Co-Lab, as their first community enterprise project, was a medium in which they could “change the world in south-west Sydney”.
Host chef Mehar Ahmad, the President of Seena and publisher of the Australasian Muslim Times AMUST, taught the class how to make a variety of traditional Indian dishes, including chicken biryani, yoghurt raita dressing, kachumber – a tomato, cucumber and onion salad, and sawain – a sweet vermicelli-based dessert.
“Everyone loves Biryani as it’s got that balance of spices and meat and rice all in one,” said Mehar.
“Whether you’re Lebanese or Turkish, [everyone] just loves biryani.”
Uyen Tran, 21, participated in the event and said, “it was a great experience to learn about foods from other cultures” and “loved how delicious and simple it was to make the chicken biryani and how we all got together at the end to eat what we’ve made.”
Fairfield City is considered one of the most multicultural communities in Australia, with more than half the residents born overseas, and over 70 per cent speaking a language other than English at home, according to the 2016 Census.
The Youth Co-Lab has been running their cooking classes on a monthly basis since January 2019 and cuisines from different cultures, such as Vietnamese, Assyrian, Turkish and Laos.
The Youth Co-Lab is a non-profit organisation which aims to empower young change-makers to create positive social impact through the development of community-based projects.