dinner and social connections Reimagined: Authentic food and shared experiences
Can a midweek dinner become a memorable event? Take a moment to think about some memorable dinner experiences in your life.
For me (Paul), it was the first time I had moussaka in Athens. It was connecting with people I just met at a street vendor crab shack in Kuala Lumpur. And it was with my best college buddy, his family, and my daughter around my kitchen table. We were sharing meals created by immigrant cooks from Ethiopia, Bangladesh, and Brazil and sharing notes with one another.
We think it’s totally possible to have those kinds of dinner experiences regularly…even right in our neighborhood on any given evening.
Social media Meets dinner
Expand your connections in real life…and your culinary taste. Open Kitchens Project is a mashup of online community and dinner club. It’s a fun way to meet people you’ve never seen before, eat food you’ve not tried before, in a home you’ve never been to before, and share your own experiences on topics you’ve not studied before! And you’ll discover real connection with real people to explore new interests, expand business networks, or discover romance.
Social Media meets Social justice
Creating real community that offers real justice. Seventy percent of restaurants in the US are started by immigrants, but it’s a very high cost with lots of risk. Open Kitchens Project lowers the bar for immigrants to launch their own direct-to-community food startup and earn extra income right away. Experienced professional immigrant cooks can join our mastermind community, get business coaching and share operational costs (such as insurance and commercial kitchen rental) with other immigrant owners. The community model for Open Kitchens Project ensures consistent income: approximately two thirds of Open Kitchens Project revenue goes to the immigrant chefs.
In 2008, Paul started working at a non-profit in North Cambridge whose mission was to build inclusive neighborhoods. Some of the immigrant moms he met in the neighborhood wanted to share their food for extra family income and satisfy their passion, but public food policies prohibited it. So he partnered with a half dozen women 2010 - 2012 to form Peace Dinners, an online subscription to home meal delivery of culturally diverse meals. In 2018 when a group of food activists in California, advocated for revolutionary new home cooking legislation (and became law on Jan 1, 2019), Paul was inspired to join with friends to launch a new food focused community. The first Open Kitchens Project dinner event was at a local church dining room with friends, and friends of friends. Paul curated the conversation after an Ethiopian meal prepared by Asmait, who was one of the original Peace Dinners cooks. The evening ended with dessert and the traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremony. Feedback was super positive and we’ve been growing ever since.
We hope this nascent movement will continue to grow, but no movement grows with the efforts of just one or two people. It takes love, shared vision and buy-in from individuals like you. We eat together, have lots of conversations, and root for each other! We can’t wait to see you at one of our upcoming events.
What People are Saying
“I enjoyed the facilitated dialogue and seeing the diversity of people who came - awesome! - Kelly
“Thank you for an amazing evening! - Alyse
“Thanks for creating this space! Loved it!” - Kate
“This totally rocked guys!” - Thomas
“Food was authentic and amazing.” - Brian
“I want to host one at my house and get my neighbors together.” - Tudor
“Thank you very much! I have enjoyed every bit of it.” - Yana
“We’d be happy to host!” - Molly
"Lots of fun! :)"
"I just love the concept of combining new foods with stimulating conversation, while also benefiting immigrants. I enjoyed the opportunity to answer the questions in a friendly and non-judgmental environment, permitting [me] to express my personal thoughts."
"Really fun. Nice group of people and an enjoyable evening."
"It was the first time I had this experience and I thoroughly enjoyed it! Thank you so much, Paul, Eleanor and chef!"
"A refreshing opportunity to connect more deeply with other people. :) "
"Surprisingly fun! I was attending as an invitation and was not sure I would like the curated discussion."
"Great questions and curator!"
"So worth it!"
Where we Work
Opens Kitchens Project is out of Somerville, MA