Graphic novel cookbook published in Scotland featuring recipes inspired by immigration up for global award

A book filled with a collection of stories and recipes from immigrants living in Scotland to activists, writers and professionals from all over the world has been shortlisted for a global award.

Deborah May and a page from the book Tomorrow's Kitchen

Tomorrow’s Kitchen, which was put together by Glasgow social business Kuche, an organisation working in collaboration with people navigating the UK immigration system, has been nominated for the best cookbook in the world in both the illustration and migrant categories in the Gourmand World Cook Book Awards 2021.

The graphic novel recipe book, published in October last year, was born out of supper clubs and workshops that Kuche’s founder, Deborah May, hosted in the city since she set up the organisation in 2016.

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Incredible stories of loss, political hardship, poverty and immigration from those connected to Kuche have been interpreted into drawings by BAFTA-nominated illustrator Shuangshuang Hao along with a range of recipes and poems.

Deborah May, founder of Kuche in Glasgow picture: Najma Abukar

It is one of just four cookbooks to have been shortlisted in these categories for the global award.

"The idea was to create a graphic novel in a recipe book medium which would share stories from around the world showing connection with food,” Deborah said.

"From stories about a Banana Republic by a Rwandan playwright to a woman speaking about poverty in the fishing community in Aberdeen, the book gives a range of different accounts on food in people’s lives across the globe.”

Andres Blanco, who moved to Glasgow from Venezuela about 11 years ago, is one of the book’s contributors.

Andres Blanco, one of Tomorrow's Kitchen's contributors picture: Julie Broadfoot

His story draws on a dish he remembers eating in his home country with his family which he calls ‘La Cangrejada’, which translates as ‘Crabfest’, and the difficult years he spent fighting the UK’s immigration system.

"My story is really about the connection I have with this dish and my family,” he said.

"It’s a crab dish in a red sauce with coconut and spices. I have crazy memories as a child of my family tucking into it, using their hands and getting red sauce all over themselves, looking like something out of a zombie film.

"I also talk about my experiences coming over to this country, first to England, then to Scotland.

A page from Tomorrow's Kitchen picture: Kitchen Press

"I consider myself one of the lucky ones, but it wasn’t easy when I arrived and it’s not easy going back to see my family in Venezuela where life is tough.”

Andres won a scholarship to Heriot-Watt to study a masters in renewable energy and now works as a consultant for engineering and consulting business Wood Group.

Tomorrow’s Kitchen was put together during lockdown while Deborah, who is originally from Aberdeenshire, was in New Zealand, Shuangshuang Hao was in Singapore and Emily Dewhurst, who published the book through Kitchen Press, was in Dundee.

Emily said: “There was something wonderful about collaborating with others across the world on this book that draws on people gathering flavours from their homeland.

"I thought it was niche when I first came across it, I didn’t really know what to expect when we published it, but it has really chimed with people.

"Bookshops have really enjoyed stocking it, including Waterstones which sold out recently, and it’s fantastic to hear that it has been shortlisted for this global award.”

The results will be announced at the awards event in Paris on June 5 this summer.

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