5 Questions with Laya Slavin, Founder of “Our Big Kitchen”

Our Big Kitchen is a community run, non-denominational kitchen. Meals are prepared for distribution to needy people across Sydney and NSW. Last year over 90, 000 meals were made and distributed to disadvantaged Australians.

1. Where did the visions for Our Big Kitchen come from?

The idea to start Our Big Kitchen came to me after I completed my Hair and Wig Design course, with many of my customers being women who were going through chemotherapy. I didn’t want to stop at providing these women just a head of hair. I established personal connections, stocked up their fridges with delicious meals and would be there as a pillar of support. With that at the heartland we wanted to continue giving but on a larger scale, hence the idea of creating a communal kitchen was seeded and continues to grow!

2. When did Our Big Kitchen start and what has the journey to today been like?

Our Big Kitchen started in 2005. The journey so far, has been so rewarding for not only myself as an individual but the amazing team that we have at Our Big Kitchen; collectively, we are doing incredible heartfelt work within the local community and for wider Aussies everywhere. Working with the homeless, the hungry, women’s shelters and did our best to support the RFS during the tragic fire season – hosting sessions with school kids to make cookies and leave notes for the firefighters doing it tough and fighting for our country.

3. What are the immediate goals for Our Big Kitchen?

In 2020 goals the primary goals for Our Big Kitchen is to streamline our overall operation and output. We want to make sure that everything we do is efficient and reaching the people who need it the most. We want to extend our outreach and kitchen ideals to more people across Sydney NSW and Australia.

4. How can the public get involved in Our Big Kitchen’s work?

Individuals can get involved, cook for the needy and learn first-hand how powerful giving can be by booking via: https://www.airbnb.com.au/experiences/336816.

 At these experiences people will meet and bond with other fun-loving people at this hands-on cooking experience. You’ll get busy in the kitchen transforming rescued surplus food into restaurant quality meals that are then delivered directly to local disadvantaged communities.

If cooking isn’t your thing, there are other volunteer opportunities available via https://www.obk.org.au/volunteer. These include the coordination of group activities, to cleaning, to packaging, to set up, pack away and food distribution. Depending on each day the tasks can vary, usually it is structured around an event at OBK. There are also regular volunteer times for those who can offer more consistent help.

Our Big Kitchen also offes corporate programs / team building programs whereby participants can give back to the community; https://www.obk.org.au/coporate-team-building

5. What can people do to help Big Kitchen if they live interstate or overseas?

We would love it people to continue our vision to help others in need and donate your time for a good cause. We understand that you are not always able to give us your time in the kitchen. While much of our manpower comes from volunteers, we are always in need of kitchen equipment, produce and maintenance services. Your kind donation will help us to remain financially sustainable and to give us the tools we need to help others in our community.

You can donate directly to OBK or provide a Gift Certificate here: https://www.obk.org.au/donate-or-purchase

Words by Arrnott Olssen