The Plant-Based Community Cookery School
Posted Wednesday 29th May 2019...
It's Volunteers Week 2019! And we're celebrating all our amazing, talented, enthustiastic and hard working volunteers that make our world go round at Made in Hackney! We LOVE these guys.
Meet Otilia Manungo. She volunteers at Made In Hackney as a class host supporting our teachers to deliver cookery sessions. As a trained chef Otilia explains how assisting with classes gave her an insight into how to teach, something she’d not learned before. Our apprentice Adele had a chat with her to find out more.
Adele: Hey Otilia Just wanted to say thank you during Volunteers Week, for all your efforts as an MIH volunteer! Tell me….. what different types of volunteering have you done so far?
Otilia: I have assisted on an Indian themed ‘Going Vegan’ masterclass with gourmet chef Anton Petrov. I have also completed a 6 week community course with the charity ‘Amy’s Place'. This was a recovery housing programme for young women overcoming drug and/or alcohol dependency.
Adele: What was your role during the cookery classes?
Otilia: Assisting the chefs with the food prep, speaking to and assisting the participants and practical cooking as well, because I’m a chef but I hadn’t had any experience teaching people.
Adele: So, would you say volunteering has taught you how to teach?
Otilia: Yes definitely! Working with people who don’t know as much as you do about food and seeing everything through their eyes. Teaching is really rewarding. And ‘learning’ how to teach.
Adele: What led you to volunteer with Made in Hackney?
Otilia: It was because of Made in Hackney’s mission. Although I’m not completely vegan myself I do eat a lot of plant-based food and I just feel that in the community more people could eat more plant-based diets and experience the health benefits.
Adele: Is there anything you would recommend to improve your experience as a volunteer?
Otilia: Well all the experiences I've had with Made in Hackney have been perfect! The only thing I can think of is to encourage as many people to show up to the classes as possible to gain the benefits of your amazing courses. During a community course with vulnerable young women I helped with some days only a few of them showed up which was a shame. However those that did show up got our full attention and basically had a private cooking lesson which was nice.
Adele: What is your favourite dish you have made while volunteering at Made in Hackney? You can choose several if it’s too hard to choose one!
Otilia: Ohhh hmmm wow haha. I’d have to say chef Aton Petrov made this dish which was porcini mushroom with some beans that was absolutely delicious. I’ve also had some lovely desserts. Oh it’s hard to pick! Anton also made this lemon lentil soup that was just so simple and refreshing. Going in to the summer that will be such a hit because it was the most refreshing lentil soup I have ever had. All the lentils I have eaten in the past have been heavy, but this was something different!
Adele: What have you gained from this volunteering experience that perhaps you weren’t expecting?
Otilia: The confidence to go out there and encourage other people to be healthier! It’s just been very fulfilling for me and still is. Just understanding that people who are not necessarily vegan do want to be healthy but they need the help of organisations like Made in Hackney to reach out to them. I was working with a group of girls at Amy’s Place that didn’t realise plant-based food could taste so good and they felt great eating it as well!
I had a life-changing experience working with these young women and the chef Sharon. I loved every minute of it.
Adele: Has the experience impacted any other parts of your life?
Otilia: It actually allowed me to be a more creative chef! Also with time management because in the space of two hours, we have managed to make three course meals with several dishes and it was just so quick, easy and delicious and everything was made fresh. So, knowing that this is possible has inspired me.
Adele: Anything you would like to share with me before we finish?
Otilia: Yes, just that Made in Hackney should just keep going and doing what they are doing and get bigger and reach more people! Because it really is wonderful seeing people lives changed. For a lot of people especially in the masterclasses participants were ‘newly’ vegan and said things like ‘I have been vegan for a few months and fallen into the trap of eating processed vegan food’. Made in Hackney has provided them with knowledge on how to prepare delicious fresh and easy vegan food.
Read more inspiring volunteer stories during Volunteers Week from Jill , Samah and Leo
If you're inspired to volunteer with us please head on over to our Volunteers Page and check out the roles on offer.