By Jeff from Options FoodLab, Athens.
Options FoodLab was a one-off experiment that became a full time project for our dedicated team. Our first event, held in April 2015, attracted more attention than we ever expected. It was sold out and people were asking for more, so we continued.
Senait’s Kitchen became the OneLoveKitchen, which then became Options FoodLab in 2016. The goals of the FoodLab were based on the real success of that first event, which wasn’t actually the fact that it was sold out, but that it brought many different people together, even if it was just for one night.
The events took place on rooftops, in social centres, in co-working spaces and in churches, any place that saw the impact we were having and wanted to support us. We partnered with more established NGOs like Babel and United African Women to further develop our process of cross-pollination between the newcomers to Athens and the existing community.
We use food as a vehicle to learn about sustainability, integration, health, and culture. In addition to the public events, we also do workshops and sometimes catering. The benefits of working together in a collaborative, inclusive method have been noted by many experts from around Europe.
Currently we are in the process of getting our own location as we have been operating nomadically for the last year. Though we are still a fairly new project, we have high hopes for the future as more people with exceptional skills join our organization and help it to move in new directions. Our goal from the beginning has been to provide meaningful employment to refugees, migrants, and locals via an innovative social enterprise, we are slowly making our way to that goal.
Our upcoming event (our 12th so far) with Khaild, a chef from Syria, and Yaakhoub, a baker from Algeria, are bringing us closer to achieving our goal.