With all in-person events on hold for the foreseeable future, the Free To Feed team took this setback as an opportunity to bring the talent and passion of their cooks to a larger audience than ever before. ‘It is very important to us that we continue building community and creating employment opportunities for our cooks’, says co-founder Loretta Bolotin. Their latest project, All Together Now, transports the knowledge and expertise of Free To Feed’s most popular instructors into your own home!
This new endeavor will be launched with Iranian community advocate, leader, and popular Feed To Feed cook, Mahshid Babzartabi. Over a series of intimate cooking videos, Mahshid will guide participants in a ‘choose your own adventure’ authentic Persian menu, that can be enjoyed individually, or prepared together as a decadent feast! Stories from Mahshid’s life and culture will be woven throughout these videos, allowing viewers to share in Mahshid’s love, culture, and passion through her food.
As well as access to eight instructional videos, the price also includes a ‘Feast Essentials’ kit filled with the harder-to-find Persian specialty ingredients (shipped Australia-wide!), a recipe booklet, thought-provoking conversation cards, and an invitation to the Curious Cooks Online Community to share your food journey with.
We chatted with Loretta and Mahshid to hear more about this exciting new chapter!
Hey Loretta! What can people expect from this first installment of ‘All Together Now’?
Loretta : You are inviting one of Free to Feed’s most experienced and much-loved cooking instructors into your kitchen. Sit down, pour yourself a glass of rosé. Go at your own pace. There is no rush. Savour Mahshid’s stories and the first-hand guidance she generously provides over eight immersive and interactive films. Explore the beautiful recipe booklet, including Mahshid’s poetry in it!
When you feel ready to get a little more active and start cooking, you will find all the specialty ingredients you’ll need in the home-delivered Feast Essentials Kit. You can approach the menu in any way you choose, all at once or learning one dish at a time. I know I’ll be starting with mastering Persian Baklava! Pause, rewind. If you have any questions at any stage, the team at Free to Feed is ready to help you out.
We’ve also created conversation cards so that you and your guests can delve deeper into Persian culture and Mahshid’s life if you wish. You can connect and share your experiences and pics of your beautiful creations back with Mahshid and other cooks from around Australia in our new Curious Cooks online group.
Loretta, Can you tell us a little about your first host, Mahshid? How long have you been working together, and what kind of teacher is she?
Loretta : Like all of our wonderful cooks at Free to Feed, Mahshid is a survivor of one of the most epic journeys of humanity, the perilous and heart-wrenching journey to seek asylum from Iran. Arriving in Australia on a leaky fishing boat on July 7th, 2013, Mahshid wanted to finally be recognised as a human and not persecuted for being a woman with a voice and ideas.
Mahshid is a home cook and poet and her cooking style is relaxed, playful, and authentically Persian and we’ve gotten to know her for a number of years. This first edition of All Together Now presents Mahshid with a wonderful platform to express herself which she does with full force!
And Mahshid, thank you for sharing your skills and stories! What do you enjoy most about teaching people how to cook Persian food?
Mahshid : For me, cooking is an expression of love and care … for family, friends … whoever I’m cooking for. Like I explain in my cooking videos, for many Middle Eastern women, freedom of expression can be very limited, and cooking is sometimes one of the few ways they can really express their love for others. In this way, there is a lot of love and passion always in Persian cuisine, some of which has not been expressed in any other way. I want to share this love!
Also, Persian food is actually very subtle, with flavours that are comforting, not too spicy. The flavours invite you into the dish to enjoy it, instead of knocking you on the head! My dream is for as many Australians as possible to enjoy cooking, eating, and sharing Persian food.
Purchase your ticket and find out more about All Together Now here!
Free To Feed’s Feast Essentials Kit, stocking you up with harder-to-find Persian ingredients. And yes, they ship Australia-wide! Photo – Rebekah Chugg.
Mahshid Babzartabi, the host of this first ‘All Together Now’ series. Photo – Rebekah Chugg.
A Persian feast! Photo – Rebekah Chugg.