Our story

Cook for Good was founded in 2019, by Robinne Collie and Karen Mattison. We shared a love of cooking, and a dream of building a community kitchen that would create meaningful links between local businesses and local people, through food-related experiences.

​Here’s how our story unfolded

A team delivering a corporate cooking event in London

Turning training budgets into a force for good

We began by running corporate team building events in which colleagues came together to cook large-scale meals for homeless and vulnerable people. It was a new model which combined team development and corporate volunteering into one event.

The community centre near Kings Cross that houses the Cook for Good kitchen

Seeking a home for a community food hub

We then began exploring ways to widen our impact and build cooking skills and connections within and across communities. We started talking to Peabody Housing about turning a disused cafe at the heart of their Kings Cross estate into a community kitchen and surplus food pantry.

Input from the community about how we could deliver social impact

Engaging with the local community

As our plans started becoming more concrete, we asked the Kings Cross community what they would want from a new space. We explored a range of ideas with different groups which helped us make sure that what we were planning would match our residents’ needs.

A team planning the development of the community kitchen

Building a network of corporate supporters

As plans progressed with Peabody, we got in touch with businesses who were based nearby, or shared our values, and invited them to come on board. Facebook, Argent and Ninja all agreed to support the kitchen build and fit out, and we also received pro bono advice from Axis Engineering, TP Bennett, JLL and QA Design.

A corporate partner supporting Cook for Good’s social impact work

Working with like-minded organisations

We also asked organisations in the food and community spaces for advice and support. As a result, we have developed partnerships with a number of groups including The Felix Project (who run FareShare in London), The Brighton and Hove Food Partnership, and Help on your Doorstep.

A corporate partner planning the development of the community kitchen

Getting the building off the ground

We first broke ground for the kitchen build in the autumn of 2021. In the meantime, we continued to run our corporate team building events, both virtually via Zoom, and in-person on external sites. These events help fund everything we do, and are a fantastic way for companies who share our social goals to get involved.

Community members and staff in a surplus food pantry near Kings Cross, London

Welcoming the community into the Pantry

We launched the Cook for Good Pantry in September 2021, and it’s fast become a highlight of the week for our members, who all live in and around the Priory Green estate. As well as picking up a basket of low-cost shopping, they love coming together with their neighbours to chat over a coffee and a bowl of homemade soup.

Community members being welcomed in to the Cook for Good community kitchen near Kings Cross, London

Opening the Cook for Good Kitchen

We formally opened the Cook for Good Kitchen in July 2022, and invited our residents in to explore their new space. It’s fair to say they were impressed; as one of them told us, “It’s better than the MasterChef kitchen!” We also use the kitchen for corporate team building and fundraising events.

Children and parents taking part in a family cooking class near Kings Cross, London

Starting our cooking classes

Our first cooking class, in the 2022 school summer holidays, saw us invite some of our younger residents in for a cooking fun day. Since then, we’ve offered regular cooking classes and demonstrations for all ages, including ‘Three ways with…’ demos to help people innovate with the basics, and ‘Use up’ classes to help them waste less.

A group of colleagues cooking at a corporate team building experience near Kings cross, London

Cooking with corporate teams

We hosted our first corporate team building experience in our kitchen in September 2022. Our guest teams come together to cook around 150 meals, which we share with our community, and the profits are invested into our community programme. Everyone has a great time, too.

A group of diners at a fundraising supper club in London

Raising funds with our first Supper Club

September 2022 also saw our first fundraising Supper Club, hosted by former government minister and Celebrity Best Home Cook winner Ed Balls. Ed worked with our community members to cook a three-course meal, as well as demoing his signature soufflé and taking part in a Q and A with guests.

A group of residents enjoying a community meal on a social housing estate near Kings Cross, London

Hosting meals for our community

Our first community meal also took place in the autumn of 2022. A team from Triple Pont cooked a three-course meal for 50 members of our community, who enjoyed the opportunity to come together as much as they enjoyed the food. We aim to host a community meal once a month.

A group of volunteers who have had training to help them get jobs in catering and hospitality

Recruiting and training a Community Brigade

A core part of our mission is widening access to jobs for members of our community. So late in 2022, with funding support from Peabody, we recruited 12 local people into a six-month Community Brigade programme. This included Level 2 food hygiene and safety training, in-kitchen skills classes and work experience – and they all graduated with flying colours.

A group of volunteers serving soup they have cooked to local businesses as part of a micro-enterprise project

Launching Cook for Good Soup

Another part of our employability drive came early in January 2023, when we began piloting a micro-enterprise project, Cook for Good Soup. Supported by RS, Phoenix Court, Auto Trader and Argent, this involved us training a group of community volunteers to cook and package large batches of soup and serve it to local businesses.

A group of staff and residents celebrating Cook for Good’s award for Best Social Value Project at the SLVG Social Value Awards

Winning awards for our social enterprise

We’ve won a number of awards in our first few years of operation, including Best Social Value Project at the SLVG Social Value Awards 2023. We dedicated our award to our staff, volunteers and community, who have all played a part in our achievements.

What’s next? Watch this space.

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