Every Friday at 5 p.m. the smell of sizzling food and spices transforms the Skeena Diversity Centre into a community culinary tour of Terrace.
The drop-in sessions have been a part of the association’s weekly program for the past five years and showcases culinary dishes from around the world. Cooking supplies are provided, with a pantry in the backroom stocked with herbs and spices.
On Feb. 16, 29-year old Neelam Rixon was preparing a vegetarian stir fry with potatoes, and sweet and sour chili chicken to celebrate Chinese New Year.
The mother-to-be is from Kolkata, India and moved to Terrace with her husband on Feb. 7, 2017. Even though she’s still new to the area, Rixon said she met a lot of “beautiful people” through the Skeena Diversity Society.
“I’m not that fond of cooking but I still like to cook something special sometimes,” Rixon said as she prepared a hot-plate to fry sliced potatoes, smiling with a hand on her belly. “Well, it really depends on what I want to eat.”
Saša Loggin, Project Director at Skeena Diversity, said Terrace has a large population of newcomers who sometimes feel nervous about reaching out to the community.
“Sometimes people feel like they don’t want to bother anybody, they don’t want to cause a problem or anything,” Loggin said.”But it’s so beneficial when people come and they get to know us working here, each other, and other people in the community.”
Attendance for the drop-in sessions each week varies, but usually draws anywhere between 15 to 50 people, including families and long-time residents.
Volunteer cooks sign up for a slot each week and prepare a new culinary dish, bringing with them a printed out recipe for anyone to try at home.
Avya Ishaya, a teacher of meditation in Terrace, said when she first moved to the city three years ago from the U.S. she saw a flyer about the Skeena Diversity Centre. Now, she serves as a board member of the association.
“I love walking in and seeing all different cultures, all different generations here,” Ishaya said. “I bet we have over thirty cultures in this community and people don’t even realize it unless they walk in our doors on a Friday night.”
International cooking sessions are held every Friday at the Skeena Diversity Centre on Lazelle Ave. from 5:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.