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An Interview with Britt and Kare, Creators of the Community Cookbook

Good food has the undeniable power to bring us together. But what happens when a pandemic hits, and you can’t actually share a meal in person? You share the recipes instead.

That’s what Britt Buntain, founder of Picot Collective & Karolina Gnat, a registered holistic nutritionist, have done in a wonderful new collection of recipes called the Community Cookbook.

While the idea of this cookbook had been simmering for Britt for quite some time, it wasn’t until she met Kare that the project really got underway. From start to finish the production of the book took two & a half months, which is no small feat when it comes to book publishing. What makes this collection truly special is that 100% of the profits are being donated to local organizations that are especially hit hard by COVID-19.

We had a chance to ask Britt and Kare a few questions about their cookbook and what it means to work on a project of this kind in Victoria.

1. How did you two ladies meet & what inspired you to collaborate & create the Community Cookbook together?

We often joke that we met online – but it’s true! I had been a fan of the Honey Tobacco scent for a long time before Britt reached out to me via a spontaneously personal email asking if I’d like to contribute recipes to her website. This led to a few in person rendezvous, where we realized we actually really like each other! Britt had always wanted to put together a Community Cookbook but didn’t want to venture into it alone, so she asked if it’s something I would be interested in; of course I was.

2. How did you choose where the proceeds from the book would be donated?

We thought of a few communities who would likely need a little extra support from the impacts of COVID right away. One of the organizations was recommended to us from a contributor; we looked into it, loved their mission and included it in the list. We wanted to keep the list quite short so that each organization would receive a good amount.

3. How did you find contributors for the book?

We started by creating a list of people whose businesses may have been affected by COVID-19. Many of the restaurants we originally reached out to were in the middle of their re-opening phase and therefore were not able to participate in this volume. It was an ironically  busy time for a lot of people. We wanted to give people some exposure and a chance to talk about their business in a unique outlet.

4. Have you tried all the recipes in the book and do you have a favourite?

Between the two of us, we’ve tried ALMOST all of the recipes. I really love Ellie’s crumble and Britt raves about the unforgettable night she tried Gordon Heal’s insanely detailed ramen recipe.

5. Do you have a favourite local product, perhaps something from the book or favourite local restaurant that inspires you?

Kare: I love me a good green sauce; whether that be from Nourish or the Green Sauce from the Root Cellar – it elevates any meal. I’m also a huge fan of freshly baked bread and rotate between the Boule from Fol Epi and buns from Bonds Bonds. Oh yeah, and I can never go back to regular peanut butter after Fatso.

Britt: Oh, I could go on and on with this one, but I’ll try to keep it concise: l do a lot of my grocery shopping at the Root Cellar and I am a die-hard for their newsletters to know what’s in season and on sale. I love that they have live music on the weekends and focus on local first (which was what a lot of our contributors focused on too). I’m also a big fan of the butcher, Farm & Field, for my meats. As for restaurants: Nubo, Chorizo & Co, Nourish, Brasserie l’ecole, and Cafe Mexico are my go-tos. Oh, and I absolutely LOVE the shawarma at Wrap & Roll across from the Jubilee hospital.

6. What is the most valuable lesson you have learned about yourselves or the community in Victoria during the process of creating the cookbook?

Britt: I underestimated the interest that this cookbook would generate. Cooking is something that I’ve always leaned into for self-care, and creating a community cookbook was a way of bridging my love for cooking and bringing people together. I didn’t anticipate for this to catch on in the way that it had, and it brings me a lot of joy to know that people are buying them, wanting to contribute to the next one, and wanting to sell them in their shops too! It feels good to know that more people are into this form of giving back. And about the process: it’s been really fun and creative to work on this with Kare. I’ve genuinely enjoyed all the hours that have gone into this!

7. Because this is the Community Cookbook – Volume One, will there be more volumes to follow and what kind of things might your readers expect in the next one?

YES! After a busy August for the both of us, we are finally starting to get our mojo back and we are excited to begin volume two. You can expect a Hygge, cozy vibe for this one.

8. What are the plans for the Community Cookbook once Covid is over and people can actually get together and share a meal again?

I think there will always be an interest in a good old tangible cookbook. And people are getting together again, in an entirely new way. Even dinner parties are different, more intentional, and I think that’s here to stay.

9. If you do another book in the series, would you be looking for submissions? How would someone get involved in your project? 

YES! Anyone interested can head to this page for a link to sign up to submit a recipe! :

To purchase a copy of the Community Cookbook click here.

Special thanks to Marta Pantry for use of their space for photography.