Meet Sumi, Chef Educator!
Tuesday, Oct 10, 2017
In September, Sumi Dutta joined SEEDS as our Chef Educator. On weekday afternoons, you can find Sumi in the SEEDS kitchen, leading seed-to-table cooking classes with our SEEDlings students.
Sumi is a social justice educator, writer, and herbalist who teaches feminist food healing classes across the South. She invites folks to get curious about the feelings and stories our food holds. All her work aims to reconnect people of color to the earth, without uncertainty of our belonging.
Having grown up in Durham, Sumi volunteered at SEEDS during the summer of 2012. When she returned to her hometown of Durham this summer and saw that SEEDS was looking for a Chef Educator, it seemed like a perfect fit.
“I need a job with a lot of movement, not a desk job. Creating recipes and harvesting from the garden was such an ideal work environment.”
As a kid, Sumi wasn’t particularly excited about cooking, but when she began teaching food healing courses, her perspective shifted. Now Sumi sees our connection to food as something that is essential and bone-deep.
“I enjoy exploring the feelings, memory and history food holds. We can use cooking as a way to reflect back our own resiliency to ourselves…The foods that we make and grow up eating tell a story of where we’ve been and what we long for. I love exploring the ancestral memory that food holds for people, and it’s a great way to bring people together with deep and meaningful connections.”
In the kitchen with kids, Sumi is always on her toes.
“Kids are like sponges,” Sumi says with a laugh. “They’re curious and excited, and it pushes me to never be mundane or boring.”
In collaboration with our Garden Manager and Educator Trevor Hyde, Sumi connects the kitchen to the garden in each of her culinary lessons.
“We recently had an abundance of eggplant and basil, so we made baba ganoush. It was super successful, and the kids did a great job. We ate it with pita bread and carrot sticks, and both the kids and the adults loved it. They’re broadening their palates, and getting introduced to lots of different regions where food is coming from.”
In her new role, Sumi is most excited about reconnecting kids with nature.
“I want to help cultivate for young people of color the sense that we all belong. Through our connection to nature, we can see ourselves as not separate from the earth. That brings me joy.”
We’re so excited to have Sumi on the team, and we’re grateful for all the deliciousness she’s already cooking up!