Housing

The Big Issue visits the Grenfell survivors' kitchen with Meghan Markle

In the immediate aftermath of the Grenfell Tower fire, the kitchen in Al-Manaar was used to cook meals for those who needed to be fed. It then opened its doors to women who no longer had kitchens of their own so that their families, relocated and staying in hotels, could still eat homemade meals

After learning that funding shortages meant the kitchen, named ‘Hubb’ after the Arabic word for love, could only be open two days a week, Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex, suggested the group create a cookbook to raise money. Published in September, Together: Our Community Cookbook collected more than 50 of the women’s own recipes and was an instant bestseller.

The Big Issue was exclusively invited to be shown around the kitchen by Meghan. She crosses the room to embrace someone who works in the kitchen, who congratulates her on her pregnancy. “Thank you so much!” Meghan replies. “I wanted to tell you the last time I saw you.”

“Oh wow!” Meghan exclaims. “You should have seen this kitchen before, it’s such a transformation. Even that window, do you remember what it used to look like?”

It’s great to try the recipes but that simple reminder of coming together

She surveys the steaming pots and pans and peers in to see what’s bubbling inside. “I remember that, that’s delicious,” she says before offering to prepare vegetables, rolling up her sleeves and donning a pair of disposable gloves.

Joining them in the kitchen is Clare Smyth, the chef who catered Prince Harry and Meghan’s wedding, a banquet that included wagyu beef and pork belly. Meghan shares the recent news about Clare’s restaurant Core: “Two Michelin stars – which is huge!”

“It’s about the gathering,” Meghan says. “It’s great to try the recipes but that simple reminder of coming together. [The book] has already sold 30,000 copies in the US.”

Studying the kitchen’s schedule, Meghan is delighted about how it is going to be used now it is fully refurbished. “You could open but there were still some finishing touches to be made,” Meghan says. “Now everything’s ready for use.”

Read the full article in this week's Big Issue.
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