UK

Duchess of Sussex launches cookbook for Grenfell

The Duchess of Sussex at the Hubb Community Kitchen Image copyright Reuters

The Duchess of Sussex has launched her first solo project as a royal - a cookbook in support of Grenfell families and others.

Meghan has written the foreword to a recipe book produced by cooks at the Hubb Community Kitchen, based near the tower in west London.

The duchess has been working with volunteers there since January.

She said she felt "connected" to the project as "a place for women to laugh, grieve, cry and cook together."

The book, called 'Together: Our Community Cookbook', includes 50 recipes by women whose community was affected by the tower block fire in June 2017, which killed 72 people.

Crisis and joy

Among the cooks the duchess worked with on private visits to the Hubb were two survivors of the blaze.

Hiwot Dagnachew helped to save the lives of her niece, Meron Mekonnen, and Ms Mekonnen's two children by calling them to warn of the fire.

"We were fast asleep and my phone rang - I'm so lucky it wasn't on silent," Ms Mekonnen told The Telegraph.

And Munira Mahmud was instrumental in founding the community kitchen, based at the Al Manaar Muslim Cultural Heritage Centre, because she had nowhere to prepare food after losing her home in the fire.

The duchess described her as the "chef de cuisine" and recounted how on her first visit Ms Mahmud put her in an apron and made her wash rice.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Hiwot Dagnachew (far left) and Munira Mahmud (far right) were among the Grenfell survivors who worked with the duchess

The idea for a fundraising book came when the cooks told the duchess the kitchen could only open twice a week, prompting her to ask: "How about sharing your recipes with other people?"

They hope the proceeds will allow the Hubb - named after the Arabic word for love - to support Grenfell families and others in the community seven days a week.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Meghan has been working with the community kitchen since January

The duchess helped the group find a publisher, while the Royal Foundation - a charity set up by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex - provided legal and administrative back-up.

In her foreword, she said that the Hubb brought cultures together under one roof and allowed people to enjoy "the universal need to connect, nurture, and commune through food, through crisis or joy".

'Proper comfort food'

"Through this charitable endeavour, the proceeds will allow the kitchen to thrive and keep the global spirit of community alive," the duchess said.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Two of the cooks, Intlak Al Saiegh and Ahlam Saeid, show off their work

Family recipes from across Europe, the Middle East, North Africa and the eastern Mediterranean are featured in the book.

In their introduction, the women said: "Our kitchen has always been a place of good food, love, support and friendship.

"We cook the recipes we've grown up with; there's no stress, and the recipes always work because they have been made so many times - it's proper comfort food."

The Royal Foundation will administer the transfer of the proceeds from the sale of the book to the Hubb Community Kitchen and related projects.

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