A supper club for refugees is breaking down barriers and bringing people together, says one its co-founders.

Stories and Supper was launched almost three years ago by Rebecca Tully and Helen Taylor.

They were keen to challenge the negative headlines about refugees and migrants, while bringing people together over delicious food.

Stories and Supper hold supper clubs in Waltham Forest and beyond, where people flock to enjoy meals cooked by refugee and migrant chefs and hear their stories. They currently meet every Saturday at Gnome House in Walthamstow for storytelling and cooking workshops, and to prepare for events. 

The project, which has about 50 people engaged as participants and volunteers, is releasing a recipe book with refugees’ stories accompanying each meal.

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A meal prepared by a refugee chef. Photo: John Nassari

Helen Taylor said: “Food is a very sensory experience, and often recalls memories of home for people.

“There is that universal language of food and when you are eating with people it breaks down barriers. Even if you don’t have a common language you can share in past experiences and memories.

“It’s an act of love in a way. It’s a compassionate thing to do to cook for someone, it transcends all language and culture barriers and allows us to discover commonalities we didn’t know we had before.”

Helen’s co-founder, Rebecca Tully got the idea for the club when she was struck by how much poor coverage there was of refugees in the media. She decided she wanted to help them share their real experiences.

She felt food would help bring in both refugees and members of the public and allow them to connect and engage with each other.

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The supper club is releasing a recipe book in time for Christmas. Photo: James Robertshaw

Helen and Rebecca have dreamed of producing a recipe book from the supper club since its inception. It was only when Waltham Forest was named the London Borough of Culture 2019 – a Sadiq Khan initiative – that they finally secured funding for the project.

“We were often sharing recipes and we spend a lot of time talking about food from different countries with people with fascinating stories from all over the globe, so it was also something we thought about it doing,” explained Helen.

“Each recipe has its own little story and there are also some longer stories about people leaving their country and families, their journeys to the UK and their experiences settling here.”

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A pakora recipe included on the book. Photo: John Nassari

The book, ‘More Than a Recipe Book’, is available for pre-order now.

Helen said: “"This may not be a book from a celebrity chef or a fancy restaurant, but the standard and attention to detail is incredibly high and the recipes have been enjoyed and appreciated by many guests at previous events.

“Each and every recipe means a huge amount to the person who donated it - it was crucial that the recipes were reproduced with as much love as they had been written with. They are recipes that speak of friends and family, and of home and belonging.”

Several launch events for the book are planned. For more information visit the Stories and Supper website.