Lowering Barriers to Create Community through Food

Eating at a Meeting Podcast Episode 132

It’s not really about the food at all.

Len Senater standing in front of a red door, which is entrance to his restaurant

For the last 11 years Len Senater ran The Depanneur in Toronto, Canada, an unusual venue that hosted thousands of unique pop-up food events and showcased Toronto’s culinary talent.

In 2016, Senater founded the Newcomer Kitchen, a weekly food pop up by and for newly arrived Syrian refugee women so they could prepare, serve and sell traditional Syrian meals.

Currently taking a sabbatical year to finish up The Depanneur Cookbook (2023) which will feature recipes & stories from 100 cooks (>80 nationalities!) that have come through The Depanneur over the past decade.

If you’re interested in learning from a person who has hosted a 1,000+ dinner parties and worked with 100+ amateur & professional cooks from all over the world, listen to the interview above and click on the links below.

Guest Introduction

Len Senater, founder of The Depanneur in Toronto. He is also the co-founder of Newcomer Kitchen, a non-profit food project that supported Syrian refugee women, and the author of the forthcoming Depanneur Cookbook, to be published by Simon & Schuster in 2023.

What do safe, inclusive & sustainable food and beverage experiences look like to you?
By lowering barriers to participation, we can invite a greater diversity of people to cook, sell and share food. In this way we can create community through food.

Do you have an example of a situation that negatively effected you and/or other individuals or groups’ food and beverage experience?
Rapid gentrification and skyrocketing rents are making it harder and harder to undertake food projects that are not explicitly profit-first.

What is a best practice you use/or have seen to create safe, sustainable, and inclusive F&B experiences?
By creating affordable & accessibly places where fledgeling food entrepreneurs can make, sell and share food, The Depanneur has been able to foster community and support a vibrant and dynamic local food ecosystem.

What do you wish people knew about what you do?
It’s not really about the food at all

What is your favorite food and your favorite drink?
I like anything made with love, that comes with a story or tradition, that can be shared. Drop me a busy food market anywhere in the world and I’m in heaven. I don’t drink much, but I’ll take it if it’s in half a coconut and on fire.

Read the full transcript

Connect with Len Senater —    Website  |  Facebook  |  Instagram  |  Twitter

Check out other featured guests on the Eating at a Meeting podcast.

Eating at a Meeting is part of the Nitty Grits Podcasts network