Library and food are two words that don't immediately spring together in one thought.But in 2021 a unique partnership between the Kitchener Public Library (KPL) and the restaurant Underground Flavour Group (UFG), introduced people to different cultures through food.The virtual cooking series launched in June and every month a different local chef would introduce a recipe and talk about how food and culture intersect."It was a very cool way to dive into the community of chefs we have here in the region and explore the different cultures we have here," Chef Arnold Yescas, who is also the founder of UFG, told CBC News. Yescas said the series featured chefs such as Venkatesh Puranik from Tapestry Hall in Cambridge, who cooked up a meal for Diwali, and others like Chef Zerka from The Pulao Gals in Kitchener.Yescas said they received a lot of positive feedback from the community, in particular about getting to know local chefs and their cultural backgrounds."We know the community really likes to dive deep into the chef's culinary background and the same thing for the chefs, they are always super excited to show where they come from, what they're about and what they specialize in," he said.Shirley Luu, with the KPL, said libraries today are more than just a place to borrow books. Libraries have become a hub for the community connect with different programs and partnering with the UFG just made sense.
"UFG as an organization focus so much on diversity in food and the library is very much looking into food literacy," she said."A program like this has all the pieces of what people care about."Yescas said the pandemic has been tough, but food has always had a way to bring comfort and people together."It's like food for the soul and the feeling and love you can really feel behind it," he said.