The Soul Food Sisters are an all-female, multicultural, not-for-profit food collective. Established in 2013, this group of women are chefs on a social mission – the core ethos is that sharing is good for the soul.
Their intimate understanding of the obstacles confronting migrant women, largely through first hand experience, allows them to develop a supportive, collaborative network. Through their collective making and sharing, the Sisters goal is to develop talents in (and out of) the kitchen, to end social isolation, to build confidence, to enhance employability and to empower migrant women. You can read the Soul Food Sister manifesto here.By sharing their ideas, recipes and skills, the Soul Food Sisters bring together women from around the world. Inspired by the cooking traditions and authentic recipes from their diverse homelands – from Algeria to Hong Kong, from Eritrea to Poland – the Soul Food Sisters are committed to using food as a force for good.“It is hard to make a life in a new country, there are so many issues to overcome. Soul Food Sisters is about giving confidence and skills to women and supporting them through the challenges they may be facing.” Djamila Singh, Soul Food Sister.The Soul Food Sisters provide these opportunities for migrant women through the provision of an impressive range of services. From bespoke, vibrant catering for events, to running community-lead workshops which facilitate the sharing of skills and enable the Sisters to make new connections in the wider community.They also run a great cafe!The Soul Food Sisters Cafe is situated on Gallowgate, just down the road from the legendary Barrowland Ballroom. The Sisters serve a range of freshly made food, cakes and coffee – the multicultural diversity and passion for international cuisine is evident throughout the menu. Pop in to the Soul Food Sisters cafe for lunch and you might enjoy North African lentil soup, Sudanese black salad, Spanish omelette, Scottish shortbread, Algerian lemon cake and baklava!
Diversity isn’t the only important feature of the Soul Food Sisters menu. Ethical production and quality are central to the produce the Sisters make. Ingredients, where possible, are locally sourced, and they support other local co-ops and neighbouring ethical businesses. On one of my recent visits to the cafe the Sisters were receiving expert barista training from Dear Green coffee – the local ethical coffee roasters who also supply the McCune Smith cafe (featured in the last People Make Glasgow post).Soul Food Sisters cater for all kinds of events, large and small – from formal dinners and weddings to pop-ups and community events. Menus are entirely bespoke and prepared with the Sisters characteristic love for food. Like the menu offered in the cafe, there is a huge range of inspiring dishes showcasing diverse national cuisines. Recent events have included an Iberian themed wedding party for 300, a pop-up at the Glasgow Centre for Contemporary Art and the “Love Conquers All” fundraiser which raised over £1,200 for Syrian Refugees.In addition to the catering service and cafe, the Soul Food Sisters also run a number of workshops. These events are as diverse as the Sisters themselves. The recurrent theme throughout though is how important food is to relationships, to family, to community and how the stories behind recipes can bring us together. For example, a recent workshop focused on recipes handed down through generations of women from mother to daughter. The workshops also often feature collaborations with other local businesses. House of Solace recently joined the Soul Food Sisters to run an event which explored the use of spice in creating authentic African flavours. So, whether you’d like to learn to make Algerian mhajab flatbreads, Polish pierogi dumplings, or Lebanese stuffed vine leaves, the chefs at Soul Food Sisters have the skills to share with you.
All this hard work, this ethical and community-minded approach to food, empowering migrant women and building supportive networks is not going unnoticed; this exemplary collective has rightly attracted significant funding and accolades. The Soul Food Sisters were awarded National Lottery Funds in 2016 and were winners of the Great Scot National Lottery Project of the Year Award in 2017. It’s clear to me that this group of inspiring migrant women, with their genuine love for food, and the power it has to transform lives, will continue to build on their successes well into the future.
So, if you’re looking for an ethical caterer for your event, want to learn some new skills in the kitchen, would like to volunteer your time to an important and compassionate social enterprise, or just sample some wonderful, soulful food, look no further than the Soul Food Sisters!