An update from Kitchen Theory founder Chef Jozef Youssef
We believe that good food and nutrition play a fundamental role in both mental and physical wellbeing and that in times of difficulty, stress or uncertainty a good nutritious meal can work wonders.
Since establishing Kitchen Theory in 2013 my intention was that we would have a greater, more meaningful purpose for our work. Rather than just focus on developing creative dining experiences, we should also contribute towards society. Over the years we have endeavoured to do so through our collaborative academic projects with psychologists, computer scientists and beyond which aim to address real world issues around food, nutrition and sustainability. By 2017 our team agreed on a mission statement to reflect our audacious intentions; “improving global wellbeing through innovations in gastronomy” – essentially, we want to make the world better using food.
Life often finds interesting ways of putting your values to the test! Around early March 2020, it was clear that the current global pandemic was going to directly affect the hospitality industry and we were most definitely going to lose business. By the middle of the month it was clear everything would come to a standstill. It was at this point we were faced with a decision; close down the studio and lie low for a few weeks, hoping this blows over? Or choose to look at this situation as an opportunity to live up to our principles and find a way to contribute towards our community in whatever way we could, with the resources and skills we have as a team.
As a result we turned our attention and resources towards a project we are calling #soupswithlove. The idea is simple; make delicious and nutritious soups and get them out to those who need them. Touched by the hard work and dedication of the NHS staff we decided this would be the focus of our attention. We had heard that staff don’t always have access to nourishing food while at work, and although many people in the local community want to donate food to the hospital it was important to them that there was traceability and consistency in the food served to their staff. So, since the 24th of March we started producing and delivering nourishing soups on a daily basis which we are donating to Barnet General Hospital for the NHS frontline staff.
We started with a humble 45 soups each day, which we are slowly but surely increasing each day. Our intention is to scale this up over the coming weeks (and months) to support more of those who are caring for the nation’s health and wellbeing through this difficult time and to also begin to extend the support to AgeUK Barnet with weekly drops of freezable soup packs.
This hasn’t been without its challenges, supply chain being one; our main fruit and vegetable suppliers unfortunately had to close down their operation, while other suppliers are running a reduced service or have redirected to their services to providing veg boxes to the general public (which we greatly appreciate!). On the flip side it has been heart-warming to see how many people have reached out to us offering financial support towards this initiative and we are very grateful for the offer, at this time we are funding #soupswithlove ourselves and intend to continue doing so for as long as we can. As we scale up over the coming weeks we may need to reach out for support, at which time your donations would be much appreciated. One form of support which has been most welcomed is donations of food packaging for the soups by Ambican and Tristar with a combined total of 6000 pots, a huge thank you to both of these companies for their support.
A silver lining of this experience is that it is bringing us closer to our community, allowing us to take ownership of the predicament and take action to make things a little better with some good food!
**update** 8th April 2020
Siemens has joined Kitchen Theory in our endeavour to feed NHS staff by supporting the #soupswithlove project. With our local area of Barnet facing 717 cases of COVID-19 (14th in UK as of 08/04) https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/apr/08/coronavirus-uk-how-many-confirmed-cases-are-in-your-area-covid-19 , we feel that increased support of our local hospitals in any way we can (which for us is food!) is of vital importance, therefore the support offered by Siemens will allow us to almost double the daily delivery of soups to NHS Royal Free London over the weeks ahead.
Thank you for your support: