Estelea's Blog

French Mum, humanitarian, restless explorer and doer on sabbatical in Cebu (Philippines): one Attila in each arm, I am exploring the “toddlers safe” corners of the region, while trying to keep some room for Me.

How to eat well, travel often and bake our world a friendlier place (almost live from NYC)


Nothing brings people together like good food, says Yamini in a big smile. In our Indian families, we always welcome guests, it’s a blessing to share and add more plates, Do you like Indian food Beti? Okra, patato dumpling? I hope you always cook with the freshest ingredients, garlic, ginger, turmeric, cilantro.. Beti you are still here?

Yamini. Indian Teacher. Portrait final
How I wish I had been ‘there’, in New York City, savouring Chef Yamini’s delicacies..My mouth was watering when she described her dal, how she cooked the okra and confectioned the shira..  If only I could just close my eyes and appear in her kitchen!

From Mumbai to New York City …

Yamini started cooking when she was 10, her Dad as a mentor. No cooking book, no food blog, a real person to person tradition. Cooking at the time was the best way to connect generations.. “But as soon as I got married, I had to work with my inlaws business.  Life was hard back then, we could not make ends meet, so we eventually decided to follow our eldest daughter’s footsteps and join her in the States. I thought that it had to be easier than to remain in Mumbai

In the city that never sleeps, her kitchen table looked too big. Winters were freezing cold. Yamini became a single mother of 3 daughters, juggling between her work at the jewelry factory, and making some extra money by cooking for her colleagues.

Even in New York, which is incredibly diverse, there’s often very little meaningful interaction between immigrants and non-immigrants, or other immigrant groups, and the interactions that occur are mostly service-based, like a guy at a bodega or a server in a restaurant,” explains Artist Lisa Gross, who founded the League of Kitchens.

Book your trips at the League of Kitchens

The League of Kitchens is a very special cooking school, that spreads migrants skills and unique savoir faire, “an immersive culinary adventure in NYC where immigrants teach cooking workshops in their homes“.

Working for the League of Kitchens has been such a blessing” continues Yamini.

Like the Indian Chef, most of the cooking instructors have never taught before. But they all have been cooking for decades for their own large families back home, and are indeed talented. Every month, they open their own kitchens to a small group of guests eager to learn how to chop and spice it like a native.
Indian measuring spice

Yamini shares her enthusiasm and passion for cooking with all her colleagues from the League of Kitchens. If you fancy Argentinian cooking, book a session with Mirta. Dolly’s food will drive you to Trinidad, Despina to Greece, Asfari to Bangladesh, Sunny to Korea, Namida to Afghanistan. I’ll make sure I also visit Jeanette’s Lebanese kitchen next time I am visiting the Big Apple.

Spreading culture and understanding through food

Those women are comfortable in their domestic spaces and definitely don’t experience cooking as a burden, but a strong link that ties them to their to their old home. Sharing their passion has changed the way they see themselves. They are in charge again.

I feel like I’m teaching my own children, says Yamini. They make me so proud of myself, it’s a God’s gift to share your knowledge with friends. They are genuinely interested in India, we cook together, we eat together, we all learn together. I love every class, because we are always having fun. I am glad my mother in law can not see them making rotis, some would have sore marks’ she laughs. “My home is alive again!”

Booking your seat at the League of Kitchens and you won’t be taking a mere cookery class. You’ll experience sharing traveling exchanging. It should not take you long to realise that those Chef’s aprons are just capes on backwards 😉

More about the League of Kitchens on their Facebook page. Bon appetit !


10 comments on “How to eat well, travel often and bake our world a friendlier place (almost live from NYC)

  1. anroworld
    August 13, 2015

    Wow, a very interesting and touching story! Food really unites people, even dinners in family circle is one of my favorite part of the day!

    • estelea
      August 13, 2015

      Couldn’t agree more, I love diners in family circus, heu I mean circle 😉
      I am glad you like this post, I was very touched by the very positive initiative of the League of Kitchens. I love traveling, eating and meeting interesting and open people. You have it all there. I hope the idea will be copied in lots of other countries, it will help so much in understanding each other better.With good food and good company, everything is possible dont you think?

      • anroworld
        August 14, 2015

        Absolutely agree! It really can help to meet new people and establish good relationships, it’s a fantastic idea, hope it can work further! You always can bring fresh ideas which are so nice, support you 100%!

      • estelea
        August 14, 2015

        Thanks :)) X

  2. Amy
    August 13, 2015

    Enjoyed reading the League of Kitchen”, Estelea! Great conversations and colorful culture can be happy shared at the dinner table. 🙂

    • estelea
      August 13, 2015

      Cooking is so related to sharing, in every way.. Wish I were a good chef too, but in all honesty my favorite thing to make for diner is reservations 😛

      • Amy
        August 13, 2015

        I agree. I enjoy eating out, too. 🙂

  3. anotherday2paradise
    August 13, 2015

    Sounds really wonderful. What a great idea to share cooking knowledge and ideas this way. 🙂

  4. Amanda Afield
    August 14, 2015

    That’s such a neat concept, and I’m sure the food is delicious! Thanks for sharing!

    • estelea
      August 14, 2015

      I bet it is 😉 glad you like it too, I would love to learn how to cook in this kind of unique ambience. Italian preferably though 😉

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