Free to Feed is a not-for-profit social enterprise that recognizes the entrepreneurial characteristics and existing skills of refugees and new migrants, as well as the significant challenges that they face in gaining meaningful employment and/or starting enterprises in Australia. Free to Feed engages refugees and new migrants in a range of innovative food- based enterprises.
In 2016, Free to Feed built a multipurpose food enterprise hub on High Street in Thornbury. To date, Free to Feed has equipped refugees and new migrants with skills, training, mentoring, career guidance, connections and hands-on paid work experience in the competitive Australian food industry.
We help them develop the skills, confidence, and knowledge to take into future ventures.
The Free to Feed cooking school is fast becoming a prized Melbourne Institution and was recently awarded the “Best Cooking School in Melbourne” by Timeout. At each Free to Feed cooking experience or class you’ll learn how to cook authentic, traditional dishes from your chef’s home country. You also get to hear their incredible stories as they relate their journeys and rich cultures to you.
Free to Feed offers pop-up cooking experiences and classes around Melbourne either in your home or as part of a class.
Before fleeing their homes, Free to Feed chefs played important roles as cooks, chefs, restaurant owners, feeding their families and communities.
For most of our instructors, Free to Feed is their first job in Australia!
Co-founder / Creative Director
“I’ve been working in the refugee space for many years and I’ve supported hundreds of people seeking asylum, and what I’ve found is, for the great majority, the process of finding meaningful employment in Australia can be both challenging and disheartening.” – Loretta Bolotin
Loretta has supported asylum seekers and developed community programs both in Australia and internationally. Loretta’s journey begins while visiting refugees and asylum seekers held in detention both in Melbourne and Christmas Island. Since then, Loretta’s She’s worked in numerous roles within the humanitarian sector over the last 8 years including with the Australian Red Cross and Life Without Barriers. In 2014 Loretta spent some time in Cairo, Egypt, assisting with refugee influx prior to the birth of her first child. Loretta is passionate about embracing cultural diversity and using the power of business and consumer choices to create social change. She is the proud mother of a toddler Koan Bolotin and of the Free to Feed project.
Co-founder & Projects Lead
Daniel is inspired by his parents’ journey to Australia as refugees from Uzbekistan in the late 70’s and the challenges they faced, and overcame, in making a life for themselves and their family. He has been working with children and families for over 10 years to improve their educational outcomes. Before all that, Daniel completed a Masters in International Development and worked to advance global youth participation for Plan Australia. Daniel is currently completing a PhD in the education field and is crazily busy with many life projects including raising his gorgeous 3 year old son. After many years of chatting with Loretta about the financial hardship and challenges gaining meaningful employment that refugees in Melbourne are experiencing, Daniel worked with her to come up with the Free to Feed concept.
By hosting a Free to Feed experience, or by coming to a class, you’re helping refugees and asylum seekers, and allowing them to share their skills in meaningful ways.
We offer opportunities for you to meet with refugees and asylum seekers, share stories, whilst learning how to cook authentic, delicious cuisines from around the world!
Sharing a kitchen is welcoming gesture of acceptance. It’s an intimate space where the simplest and most meaningful cultural exchanges can occur.
We believe in community and we hope that what we offer will foster genuine connections between everyday Australians and our new arrivals.