The duchess, 37, is championing Together: Our Community Cookbook, showcasing more than 50 recipes from women from the Grenfell community to celebrate the power of cooking in bringing people together.
The Hubb Community Kitchen evolved after a group of women displaced by the fire gathered in the communal kitchen at Al Manaar Muslim Cultural Heritage Centre in west London last summer to prepare fresh food for their families, friends and neighbours.
As they cooked together and shared recipes, word spread of the venture and more women joined in.
The duchess visited in January and has continued to make regular private visits. In a foreword to the book she describes being inspired by the women and their passion for cooking as a way of strengthening communities,
as well as how the project empowers women at a grassroots level and how the kitchen is transforming lives and communities through cooking.
Describing her first visit, she writes that she asked how she could help. “An apron was quickly wrapped around me,
I pushed up my sleeves and I found myself washing the rice for lunch … All the aromas percolating in a kitchen filled with countless languages aflutter remains one of my most treasured memories from my first visit to the kitchen.”
She adds: “I immediately felt connected to this community kitchen; it is a place for women to laugh, grieve, cry and cook together. Melding cultural identities under a shared roof, it creates space to feel a sense of normalcy – in its simplest form, the universal need to connect, nurture, and commune through food, through crisis or joy – something we can all relate to.
“Through this charitable endeavour, the proceeds will allow the kitchen to thrive and keep the global spirit of community alive.”
Describing her lifelong interest in the story of food, the duchess reveals: “One of my own favourite meals is collard greens, black-eyed peas and cornbread – a meal I would look forward to throughout my childhood: the smell of yellow onions simmering amongst a slow-cooked pot of greens from my grandma’s back garden; the earthy textures of peas; and a golden loaf of cornbread puff-puffing away to a browned peak in the warmth of the oven.”
It was traditionally eaten on New Year’s Day, she writes. Other favourites include her mother’s gumbo, poutine and other Canadian culinary favourites, and Californian fish tacos.
The book, which features the women’s personal recipes from across Europe, the Middle East, north Africa and the eastern Mediterranean, goes on international sale from this week published by Ebury Press. Supported by The Royal Foundation, the proceeds will go towards sustaining the Hubb Community Kitchen.