Tooting family go on lockdown journey to cook the flavours of the world

A family from Tooting are nearing the end of an extensive lockdown challenge – to cook 52 meals in 52 weeks from 52 countries.

While most of us have been stuck inside for the best part of a year, the Richardson family have experienced many different pockets of the world – all from their home in Heritage Park.

Allister Richardson decided to organise a creative challenge for his three children when the pandemic first took hold in April 2020.

Inspired by his 14-years of travelling extensively for the Army, and his wife Esmerelda’s Albanian background, the idea of doing one meal a week came naturally.

“It occurred to me that cooking was a great way to educate the kids and celebrate the diversity of the community we live in,” said Allister.

Every Friday night brings different flavours to their table in Tooting Bec – from Spanish paella to Sri Lankan curry – which are then documented on the family’s blog.

This April, “little chefs” Joe, 2, Abigail, 4 and Sam, 6, will be rounding off their hard work by whipping up feasts from Peru and India.

“It’s been a way of engaging people in the local community, by going to neighbourhood restaurants or speaking to people at Tooting Market. I ask them what they eat at home and at celebrations.”

It’s also a way of marking milestones in a year that has been exceedingly difficult for many.

“It’s one hundred percent given us something to aim for every week. We’ve sat down and had some amazing meals and experiences and it’s given everyone some focus. The kids can stay in touch with their grandparents who look forward to seeing what they’re cooking each week.”

Now, the family are planning to put their experiences to good use by compiling a charity cookbook of all their recipes.

The Richardson’s are hoping to donate the profits to UNICEF which gives humanitarian aid to children worldwide.

You can find out more about the family’s journey here:

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