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Spotlight on Tupelo: Cooking As A First Language

A Tupelo woman is breaking down language barriers, one cooking class at a time.

Posted: Dec 5, 2019 9:23 AM
Updated: Dec 5, 2019 6:46 PM

TUPELO, Miss. (WTVA) - A Tupelo woman is breaking down language barriers, one cooking class at a time.

Lauren McElwain said the program aims to break down barriers between people and build a community over food and cooking.

Two years ago, she came up with the idea of a cooking class led by people from different countries who would teach others how to cook cuisine from their culture.

It started when a group of Japanese women approached her about her personal food blog and asked her if she would teach them how to cook American food.

“The ladies who came that day did not speak any English, but it didn’t matter," McElwain said. "Once we got in my kitchen and started cooking together, it was like we just bonded so much faster than we would have through a spoken conversation."

She said that is what inspired her and excited her to come up with Cooking As A First Language.

When you walk into McElwain's home, you will meet people from all walks of life and try food from different cultures that are represented in Tupelo.

“I’m so happy to celebrate that diversity in our small Southern town,” she said.

Kalil Delacoudray supported the goal of breaking down barriers and building a community. 

Delacoudray is from the Caribbean island of Saint Kitts and Nevis.

Each class is interactive. You will chop vegetables, sautee and you may learn new skills such as zesting a ginger root.

At the end of each class, everyone sits around the table to enjoy their meal together.

For McElwain, it is a dream come true and it is only growing.

“I feel like it’s something that can be powerful and be really big," she said. "And so, I wanted it to be big and I hope it will be big.”

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