Enfield’s first ‘community kitchen’ opens in Ponders End

Cooking Champions founder says some of the people they help can’t afford to turn on their oven, reports James Cracknell

At the new community kitchen run by Cooking Champions in Ponders End are (from left) Heather Bredee, Ela Teague and Clare Donovan
At the new community kitchen run by Cooking Champions in Ponders End are (from left) Heather Bredee, Ela Teague and Clare Donovan

Enfield’s first dedicated community kitchen has opened in Ponders End after a successful fundraising appeal.

Cooking Champions, a social enterprise that cooks and distributes hot meals and food parcels for vulnerable people, raised £15,000 to help launch its new community kitchen – where people can go not just to collect food but also cook it, with help from trained chefs.

The need for a community kitchen in Enfield became apparent amid the worsening cost-of-living crisis, with some of those struggling financially faced with a choice between eating or heating their homes.

At an open day this week for the new community kitchen in St Matthew’s Church, where Cooking Champions is now based, founder Clare Donovan told the Dispatch that some of the people they are helping either don’t have access to an oven or can’t afford to turn it on.

Clare said: “This is the first community kitchen in the borough. It is a much-needed resource, based on our experience over the last two years.

“When we give out food packages, some of it is returned to us because they can’t afford to use the oven. But here it is safe and warm and they can choose what to cook. We put all the food out and they can cook what they want, and if they need help we are here to give advice. Everything is completely free.

“We are still doing our food deliveries which we have been doing every week since April 2020. But this seemed like a solution to some of the problems we have found with people returning food to us. They are not ungrateful, they just can’t use it. Some people are in hostels and they just have access to a kettle or a toaster.”

Enfield Dispatch membership appeal

Unlike most foodbanks, there is no need for anyone to obtain a written referral from a welfare or health professional to be able to sign up with Cooking Champions; if someone needs food, they can simply get in touch. And while demand is rising – Clare says they have never been busier and are now feeding 50 families per week – the community kitchen will have capacity to expand if needed.

This story is published by Enfield Dispatch, Enfield's free monthly newspaper and free news website. We are a not-for-profit publication, published by a small social enterprise. We have no rich backers and rely on the support of our readers. Donate or become a supporter.

Some of the food Cooking Champions uses is donated, but they also receive ingredients from The Felix Project, an Enfield-based charity which saves surplus food from supermarkets.

The new base at St Matthew’s Church, where Cooking Champions now has access not just to the hall and kitchen but the church nave and alter, allows other events to take place alongside the community kitchen. Clare wants to run cooking lessons, workshops, child and parent sessions and even launch a training academy next year.

“I wanted to open this five years ago, but it has taken a long time. We want to share our assets to benefit more people in the community.

“We are starting off small, making sure we have the provision, before we expand it. We want to adapt our services based on what people want.”

Clare has a small team helping her run Cooking Champions, including Heather Bredee and Ela Teague, who also runs an Indian cooking school in Enfield. Ela said: “With the start of the community kitchen, it is something I wanted to achieve, and I am happy it has all come together. If people come and they have an idea of what they want to cook, then that is fine, but if not I will get out my cookbook!”

Heather said the cost-of-living crisis is now surpassing the pandemic in terms of the financial impact it is having on people. She said: “Often people who are juggling lots of jobs still don’t have enough money. There are parents skipping meals so the children can eat. We have recently had our busiest week ever – the phone didn’t stop ringing.”

The Cooking Champions community kitchen is open every Friday at St Matthew’s Church, South Street, Ponders End EN3 4LA. To get in touch and enquire about signing up for support:
[email protected]

We know times are hard

If you are struggling to make ends meet, we are keeping Enfield Dispatch free because of you. We know that many people cannot afford to pay for local news, so this website and our print paper will always be free. If you can afford to, and value what we do, a small monthly, yearly or one-off contribution can support us to keep providing quality journalism for Enfield to our community for free.

Monthly direct debit 

Annual direct debit

£5 per month supporters get a digital copy of each month’s paper before anyone else, £10 per month supporters get a digital copy of each month’s paper before anyone else and a print copy posted to them each month. £50 annual supporters get a digital copy of each month's paper before anyone else.  

Donate now with Pay Pal

More information on supporting us monthly or yearly 

More Information about donations