Tate Modern Talk

Can you build communities through food?

Photgraph of chef Asma Khan

Asma Khan

Join us for an exciting panel discussion about the power of food for social change and building communities

Food unites and brings people together. This discussion shares the stories, strategies and perspectives of inspirational people who have harnessed the power of food for social change. From breaking down barriers and creating meaningful connections, challenging stereotypes, championing marginalised groups and celebrating the diversity of culinary culture.

Join Jess Thompson (Migrateful) to share stories on food forming friendship and cultural exchange, through supporting migrant and refugees. Asma Khan, founder of Darjeeling Express and celebrated chef and force for social change, discusses her all-female kitchen and tackling stigmas surrounding the status of female chefs. While Kavita Meelu reflects on how food can challenge culinary norms and celebrate cultural diversity, opening new ways for people to connect.

This discussion will be moderated by Polly Russell, food historian and curator.

This event is presented by Studio Olafur Eliasson Kitchen and The Terrace Bar as a part of Olafur Eliasson: In real life


Kavita Meelu

Kavita Meelu is a culinary curator, cultural anthropologist and community organizer. Over the past nine years, she has created a number of different projects that support young budding food entrepreneurs to build independent food businesses. With a particular focus on markets, migration and culture her projects include Street Food Thursday, Mother's Mother, Burgers & Hip Hop and Kebabistan. She is a host on Vice Munchies. Kavita’s research into the intersections of race, power and gastronomy at SOAS led her to co-found the ‘Smells Like Collective.' The community of BIPOC chefs, artists, writers, budding cooks, restaurant owners and food lovers use storytelling to celebrate and negotiate food culture on their own terms.

Asma Khan

Asma moved to Cambridge from Calcutta in 1991. She is Rajput on her father’s side and Bengali on her mother’s. After studying law Asma went on to do a PhD in Law at King’s College London. Cooking was her passion and she began her food career in 2012 as a supper club in her home. In 2015, she opened a pop-up in a Soho pub and Darjeeling Express the restaurant opened its doors in June 2017. A year later, her cookbook Asma’s Indian Kitchen was published by Pavilion. The book was the winner in the UK category for food publishing in Indian cuisine in the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards, the cookbook will qualify as a finalist for the Best in the World. Asma’s Indian Kitchen was also shortlisted for best debut cookbook in Fortnum & Mason 2019 awards. Asma is the first British chef to feature in Netflix Emmy nominated Chef’s Table.

Jess Thompson

Prior to setting up Migrateful, Jess Thompson spent two and a half years working on the front line to support migrants and refugees in Ceuta, Morocco, Dunkirk refugee camp in France, and London. Migrateful emerged from discussions with refugee women at a Time Bank project in Tower Hamlets. Migrateful helps refugees and asylum seekers on their journey to employment and independence and promotes integration. It runs cookery classes led by migrant chefs struggling to integrate and access employment due to legal and linguistic barriers. Migrateful currently runs ten cookery classes per week taught by over 20 refugee chefs in London, Kent and Bristol.

Polly Russell

Dr Polly Russell is a lead curator at the British Library, Historian, TV Presenter and Writer. She has a regular column 'The History Cook 'in the FT Weekend Magazine. On TV, Polly is best known as co-host of the hit BBC2 food history series Back in Time.

Tate Modern

Terrace Bar

London SE1 9TG
Plan your visit

Date & Time

7 December 2019 at 17.00–18.00