Written By Hussina Raja
The space is buzzing, it’s 2pm and the working day is in full procession at the e5 Bakehouse. It’s week seven and event night! I’m a little nervous but that soon passes as the group, all smiles are excited to get cooking. Their enthusiasm is infectious, with Kate swooping in, the trooper she is, with the ingredients for tonight. Her efficiency definitely gets us onto a smooth start.
The group are divided into two. One team begins with rolling out the dough for flat-breads, the last subscription order for Just Bread 2018 – a sad, but successful end.
The other group begin by putting their peeling and chopping skills into action, getting through onions, garlic, chillies, leeks, cabbage and more, sharing the duties by swapping from time to time.
As the kitchen in the e5 Bakehouse becomes available from 4pm, the group begin on their individual dishes, with everyone mucking in to support wherever they can. Kate and Maaz are off preparing the aseeda dough while Izzeldin gets started on their Tagalia stew.
Wudie gathers all the injera she’s just prepared and begins to work with Elsa and Zenebu on the Shiro dish.
I’m washing and chopping greens for Masooma’s Ghormeh sabzi and Uzoma is blending the scotch bonnet and tomato paste for her jollof rice dish. The e5 Bakehouse is enveloped in an array of delightful aromas. We’re all getting hungry and can’t wait to tuck in with our audience tonight.
Kate and I stop for a moment taking in the scene before us, everyone’s commitment to the event is admirable. We’re so impressed by how slick this whole operation is.
Time is ticking and the space is yet to be dressed. Jean is in the MillHouse setting up the equipment for the music tonight. Anna, from the Refugee Council has been tirelessly helping throughout the day, she’s been an absolute star. She arranges the space with me in time for our guests’ arrival.
It’s 6.15pm – gathering the group quickly before the event is due to start – we take this moment to thank each other for the hard work and energy we’ve invested over the last two months to make the project, subscription and event possible. Now, it’s time for the group to have fun and enjoy the night.
A few minutes to spare, I dash to grab the menus for the event, while Anna makes up candle holders. Tina and Laurence help clear the space.
A stream of guests arrive to the sound of Ethiopian music and candle lit tables, setting the perfect tone for our Just Bread event. The lights are now dimmed and the MillHouse is intimately set, filling up with inquisitive guests awaiting their first dish for tasting.
Kate loads plates with the help of Merry and Elsa, who previously had been Just Bread trainees, they’ve kindly stuck around to support and help. As the dishes free flow out of the kitchen and onto tables, our guests share smiles of appreciation and marvel at the variety and colourful picture before them.
Zenebu, in traditional Ethiopian attire takes her place in a corner that has been dressed for the coffee ceremony. As the live music begins for the night, the sweet smell of roasting coffee beans engulf the MillHouse. Once prepared, our guests eager for relief from bellies full of world food welcome the light liquid being poured into small traditional cups.
What a way to end the year but with so many delicious dishes spread across tables being shared by groups of people. We all sit and eat from the same plates and laugh into the evening with the sweet sounds of Senegal brought to us by the wonderful Abdoulaye Samb.