Leaisa Pele | Shepparton Culture Kitchen

Shepparton Culture Kitchen has enabled women like Samoan born homemaker and educator, Leaisa Pele to become part of Creative Team exploring the role that diverse food traditions and cultures can play in addressing issues of health inequity in the region.

Leaisa says, “Being part of Shepparton Culture Kitchen opened my eyes to what food is and how you can use it in telling someone’s story. I love cooking – I am the chef of my family and so to see examples of Jamie’s work has made me think a lot about the food I cook and why I do food.

Samoans love food and back in my country the men cook, now here in Australia the roles are reversed. Women cook and men just expect to come home from work and eat – the women back home still look young and beautiful and that’s because maybe they do the little chores and not in front of the fire cooking – here not the same.

When I think of how we had food back home everything was fresh – if you want to eat Taro you took it from the plantation – right out of your soil in the backyard and use it. You picked coconuts and get your coconut milk or cream and use it, same with meat and fish. Here it goes through the shops and processes so when we cook it’s not the same.

I am excited to see where this project takes us because there is so much to be told through our food and where we come from. Hopefully it will make the dominant culture accept and embrace, acknowledge and appreciate the uniqueness of our cultures.”

Listen to Leaisa’s reflections and memories

Shepparton Culture Kitchen is a new project co-produced by MAV and Greater Shepparton City Council, to explore the diverse food cultures of Shepparton’s diaspora communities and the vital role they play in addressing issues of health inequity and disadvantage facing the region.

Shepparton Culture Kitchen is proudly supported by VicHealth, Greater Shepparton City Council, Australia Council for the Arts, Creative Victoria.

Image credit: Leaisa Pele. Courtesy Leaisa Pele.