Feeding the Conversation

Taghi Tazkir: Feeding the Conversation at Little London Community Centre.

Last year, I spent many a Saturday volunteering with the Leeds University Student Action for Refugees (STAR) group who run conversation classes at the Little London Community Centre. The classes were always rewarding but tiring, both for the students and the teachers. That is where Taghi Tazkir comes in, providing delicious meals for everyone at the community centre at the end of the classes. Unfortunately, I am unable to attend the classes at the moment but remembering the mouth-watering smells that floated in from Taghi’s kitchen, I decided to wander down and pay him a visit.

Taghi came to the UK from Iran in 2004. He has been working as a cook for six years, with half that time being spent at the Little London Community Centre. He provides food for the guests of the community centre between four and five days a week. As I look out of his kitchen, to the room packed full of hungry mouths whose taste-buds have been teased by the smells wafting towards them for the last 40 minutes, I can see this is not a task to be taken lightly. Taghi simply shrugs, claiming that there is only a small group today. He is used to cooking for up to 80 people with only a small and limited kitchen.

Today Taghi is cooking up an Iranian-style vegetable soup, rice and a salad. He believes that keeping it simple is the key to keeping such a diverse group happy. The range of what is on offer varies greatly. Every other weekend, Taghi cooks with Food Cycle, a groups that uses surplus ingredients collected from Sainsbury’s. As such, he describes the food prepared these weeks as British. When asked if he is tempted to introduce a bit of Iranian spice to the traditional British dishes Taghi  points out that he enjoys cooking British food and his customers enjoy eating it. It would seem to be the same for his Iranian soup and as I left the centre, a small crowd was starting to hover expectantly around the kitchen.

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