Parkdale’s Moving Kitchen

Placemaking for Cross Cultural Exchange

Toronto is a melting pot of cultures and backgrounds that come together and create a strong community in various parts of the city. Parkdale is one of the most diverse and close- knit areas in Toronto as it is home to a large population of Tibetans and others of southeast Asian descent. There are also other populations situated within the area but one of the larger concerns is the lack of intermingling and cross- collaboration between all the various ethnicities.

Create Team 3 explores Parkdale’s demographics and needs based on research, conversation and .. with the OACC to understand how we can best assist the community. Through our research, we came to understand the community members and their perspectives when they ask us to create opportunities for cultural exchange. We also came to learn that community gardening and food was at the heart of their involvement within their neighbourhood.
Using this research we looked at various ways of enhancing theexperience of cross- cultural collaboration through food: the act of growing, making and eating. The proposed solution is goingto be narrated through the needs and desires of three residentsof Parkdale.

Our first resident is Richard, a 37- year- old single father of two young children. Richard is also a recent immigrant of Filipino descent and has come to Canada to provide a better life for his family. He works long hours and weekends and doesn’t have much time to make traditional dishes to feed his kids. He misses home and would really like to teach his children about their heritage as well as make some time for himself in his hectic life.
Our second is Hilda, a 65-year- old widowed grandmother who retired not too long ago and is looking for ways to pass time. Hilda was a first-generation immigrant and came to Canada in the ’70s with her husband. Her family had settled in Parkdale and has been there for the longest time. Hilda’s daughter now lives in Manitoba and with all the free time on Hilda’s hands, she has been volunteering at the local women’s shelter and cooking food for the women that come in. Through the years, Hilda has welcomed new immigrant families in the neighbourhood with home-cooked meals to make them feel at home and wants to get behind initiatives that support new immigrants.
Our third resident is Elena, a 27- year- old who has spent the last 5 years travelling after completing her culinary arts degree at the age of 22. Elena has always been passionate about food and her reason for travelling was to learn about cultures through their ethnic foods. During her travels, Elena learned a lot about the privileges she’s had in her life and the value of food through the lens of the less fortunate. She is now back in Toronto and looking for a way to incorporate her love for food, experience and help communities come together through food.

Within the first year of Elena’s move, she got involved with the Parkdale People’s Economy and joined their cultural development team. She started to really delve into the concerns of the neighbourhood and started wondering how she could support them. As Elena learned about all the different populations within Parkdale and their different cultural backgrounds, she started to notice that there while there were several different backgrounds, there was not cross- collaboration. Elena took it upon herself to connect everyone through something that every person not only wants but needs; food. Elena then started thinking about a cultural community kitchen that could be located on one of the unused plots in the neighbourhood and starts developing her idea; Parkdale’s Moving Kitchen.

Parkdale’s moving Kitchen is a two- fold idea: the first part consists of a stationary community kitchen located at one of the unused lots located on Queen St. W, that would engage locals to come to use and share their culture through food. The second part would consist of a dining unit on wheels that can be moved around the neighbourhood to hand out food to families within the community.

The stationary kitchen would be located at the undeveloped plot at the intersection of Queen St. W. and Cross Ave., adding a flare to the current neglected plot. Choosing this site would liven up the intersection and positively contribute to the cultural vibrancy of the street. Durable, efficient and sustainable material for the stationary kitchen would be the use of shipping containers. The first shipping container would be transformedinto a small, yet functional kitchen that can open up to the city. With the addition of a canopy, there would be an allocated space to sit and eat.

The portable dining units would be a foldable cart that can expand out and collapse for easy storage. Residents would be able to cook food at the stationary kitchen and then take the cart around the neighbourhood to hand out food to the residents. By having the opportunity to taste food from other cultures and ethnicities therewould be a strong cross- cultural exchange between the locals.

Parkdale’s Moving Kitchen has been a great success in the neighbourhood! The local families have taken turns to host cultural food nights and make potlucks at the kitchens every few weeks and encourage everyone to join. Richard, our first resident often takes his kids to the stationary kitchen where he meets multiple people who have a similar cultural background and they talk over their delicious food about back home, their experiences and life in Canada.
Our second resident Hilda now brings in women from the shelter every now and then to help them change their scenery. Hilda has also grown fond of the program as she offers up her teaching and cooking skills to other residents and can be seen taking the movable carts around the neighbourhood with help from Elena.
Through this experience, Hilda met Elena, our third resident, who now uses her culinary skills from her travels and often helps cook, clean and maintain the kitchen and carts for residents to use. Elena continues to work on the develop the program and understand the needs of the community and how she can help through the development of this project

Toronto Metropolitan Department of  Architectural Science Toronto, CA.