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Still Creating Community

Breaking down barriers.  Building up community.

This is the mission statement of Cooking as a First Language.  We have always pursued this mission in our small Southern community in Tupelo, Mississippi.  It has been incredibly rewarding because of the inspiring diversity in our town.  There are not many things better than bringing a group of people (from different backgrounds) together to create a meal to share.

Enter Covid-19.

In a global pandemic, everything is cancelled or at least significantly altered.  Our community cooking classes came to an abrupt end in March 2020.  Several classes we had already announced were cancelled.  I put away our logo aprons with no idea of when I might be able to pull them back out again.  I was not okay with that.

The era of Zoom.

Once quarantine hit, we started hearing words like Zoom, Google Meet, Hangouts.  People started conducting work meetings, church, play practices and all manner of other things Brady-Bunch-style over these new online resources.  It was hard at first and it’s still not the same as being face to face.  However, it has opened new doors for us and a broader method for us to pursue our mission!

Connecting kitchens.

A global pandemic is obviously not a good thing.  But most of the time, blessings come out of hardships.  We have discovered that we can easily and smoothly conduct cooking classes over Zoom.  This has allowed us to connect with guest chefs and class attendees in other countries!  Our classes are now available for anyone in the world to participate.  We have offered some wonderful classes taught by people in other countries and some taught by amazing chefs here in the states.  The places we have connected so far via Zoom are: Ireland, Jordan, Italy, Australia, New York, California, Colorado, Canada, Connecticut, India, Syria, and the Caribbean. And we've only just started!

Good things ahead.

We are just as committed to the mission of Cooking as a First Language as ever, pandemic or not.  We have started to offer very limited capacity classes in person again (so I did get to pull those aprons back out). But we will conduct international Zoom classes from now on in addition to our original model! We look forward to so many collaborations and wonderful cooking events in the future!  As always, this is an excellent time to get involved.  We hope to see you soon!

Lauren McElwain

Cooking as a First Language Founder and Director

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