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20 Questions with Co-Founder Veronica Baena

1) What was your vision for Grandma’s Cooking?

Veronica: Barcelona is a very culinary city well known for its markets, renowned chefs and Michelin stars restaurants, and if you turn the TV on, you’ll see Master Chef 24 h a day! Plus the huge amount of visitors that Catalonia receives every year. Grandmas and Grandpas were not included in this equation, and they are the source of the traditional food from Spain and Catalonia!

2) How did this company come to be?

Veronica: with the powerful wish of having elderly people around us, and working hard to make it happen, we are a small but loving company.

3) Whats your fondest memory of Grandma’s Cooking?

Veronica: I love to see people laughing and enjoying themselves as well as our Grandmas.. Once we had a visitor at the table who said to the Grandma: these are the women man like me should have, nowadays women don’t cook anymore! and he touched her leg respectfully, but our Grandma turn red as a tomato and at the end of the workshop she left the kitchen with so much energy and positive thoughts, that you couldn’t believe it. Also there’s a couple who joked that they wanted to exchange the wife for my Grandma! So much love and laugh around during the classes.

4) Why did you want to emphasize the non-profit aspect of your business?

Veronica: Because we have social value like no others!, we CARE about the world and society, we firmly believe in community and sustainability through social impact initiatives.

5) How is your relationship with all the grandmas that work for you?

Veronica: Excellent, we look after them and we work together designing menus, also we give them additional lessons to help them with their cooking classes. We’re constantly meeting and communicating with each other to create. It feels like a huge family.

6) How did you find your grandmas and what were you looking for specifically?

Veronica: We started with finding grandmas through a school and one by one would recommend their friends. Also we would try to meet grandmas on the street and in locations where communities of grandmas like to be, but mostly we have found all of our grandmas by word of mouth. We look for grandmas that are happy and like to be social!

7) What is your favorite part of your job?

Veronica: Cooking with grandmas and reuniting different cultures and generations around the table. Also I enjoy iIntroducing and talking about our project to new people.

8) What do you want people to know about Grandma’s Cooking?

Veronica: That we are a slow social impact enterprise and our social values. We strive to promote empowerment and build a community through traditional gastronomy.

9) What makes Grandma’s Cooking unique?

Veronica: The community we have to offer, We share traditions with our guests and keep an active group of grandmas and grandpas that are wanting to share their knowledge about cooking and ways of life.

10) What is your history with the cooking and food industry?

Veronica: I started giving mexican cooking lessons in 2006

11) Do you have a favorite meal that the Grandma’s prepare?

Veronica:

12) What social responsibilities does Grandma’s Cooking address?

Veronica:

13) What does a normal day as a co-founder look like?

Veronica:

14) Favorite part of a cooking class with Grandma’s Cooking?

Veronica:

15) How long has Grandma’s Cooking been established?

Veronica:

16) Would you consider expanding Grandma’s Cooking to cities outside of Barcelona?

Veronica:

17) Why is Barcelona the perfect city for Grandma’s Cooking?

Veronica:

18) What are your goals for your company?

Veronica:

19) How did you meet your business partner?

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20) Funniest or weirdest cooking class experience?

Veronica:

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20 Questions with Grandma Adela

1) What is your first memory of being in the kitchen?

My memories are all with my mom. She would always cook and I would help and watch. I was really little, I remember I was 4 or 5 years old.

2) Favorite dish to cook?

Paella or any type of rice. With rice you can make for anyone with any ingredients to individualize for their taste. Paella is nice to make for a big group of people.

3) Favorite dish to eat?

Rice too! I like rice in all ways. I love white rice. But I eat everything, I like all food!

4) Do you have a family cookbook?

No, normally in my time you learn from your family by memory. I would just learn all the ingredients and recipes from my mom and aunt. Today, I still cook my mom’s recipes. The recipes of my mom is based on intuition. You can tell by smell when the plate is done and ready to eat. It’s good to experiment with cooking and improve from there to become perfect. Cooking is an evolution throughout my family, it changes or improves throughout the generations. I taught my children and grandchildren to also cook. My granddaughter that is 3 and we like to bake cake together. It’s all about cooking together to learn!

6) How would you describe yourself as a cook?’

I would consider myself normal, it makes me happy that people like my food. I enjoy cooking for my family. I think im a traditional cooker, but I have also learned to cook for new diets like vegan, vegetarian, and gluten free meals.

7) Have you cooked professionally or always for fun?

No, always just to cook for family and friends.

8) How did you discover Grandmas Cooking?

It was in a meeting at the school of IES. I was there learning about the students that were coming to stay with me. Veronica approached me and told me about her business and I was curious to learn more. I became involved really soon after.

9) What is your favorite part of working with Grandmas Cooking?

The people, when the clients come to cook with me its fun to meet a variety of people that have different tastes and diets. Its very satisfying for me to have the clients satisfied. It’s an experience for me as well as the clients.

10) How would describe the meaning and social aspect behind Grandma’s Cooking?

In Barcelona, its lucky we have so many tourists. They do a lot of activities but for them to participate in a such a traditional class is amazing for them to experience. Cooking classes like this is a great way for people around the world to learn about each other’s food and culture in depth. Preparing together, buying together, and cooking together is an important and special aspect of Grandmas cooking. Its important that the kids are able to particpate as well.

11) What is your fondest memory of a cooking class with Grandmas Cooking?

Always the families with children. I love when kids are participating in the class. Sometimes some of the kids can cook so well! Its fantastic. They’re the future of cooking. Of course I love cooking with the parents as well, but im very fond of children.

12) What is the weirdest/funniest memory of a cooking class with Grandmas?

One class, a group came of maybe 20 and there were various grandmas from Seville and the class was very interactive and team working. People worked on different things and at the end we all combined our creations to the full meal.  It was so fun!

13) Fun fact about yourself?

I have the mind and soul of someone younger! In my head I’m young because i’m very energetic and full of curiosity. I love to learn about new things.

14) Favorite restaurant in Barcelona?

Arroseria de Xativa – they have very good rice. They offer all types and it is a very traditional place and has been open for a very long time.

15) Favorite traditional dish of Catalonia? 

Primer Plato: Canelones
Segundo Plato: Pollo Rustido with dried grapes or Mar y Montana
Dessert: Crema catalana!

15) Least favorite food?

No raw meat or raw fish. So I don’t eat sushi!

16) Coffee or tea?

Coffee! Coffee americano.

17) If you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Fruit! I love fruit. I love vegetables as well but I think I would pick fruit.

18) What have you always wanted to learn to cook?

I would like to learn about oriental cooking. I would like to cook something like Thai because never do! I have American students coming to live with me in the winter and I want to learn to cook oriental food for them.

19) What food of yours does your family enjoy the most?

Arroz Caldoso de Bogavante (European lobster) you eat it with a spoon and is not dry like Paella.

20) What do you do for fun?

Tai-Xi and Ikebana! Ive been doing both for more than 20 years. Tai-Xi is very good for your physical and mental health. Those are my two favorites and also traveling I love!

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20 Questions with Grandma Pilar

1) What is your first memory of being in the kitchen?

“In France… I began cooking apple tarts while I lived there for a little while. This was my first thing I really loved to cook. I didn’t cook much when I was young.”

2) Favorite dish to cook?

“Paella of any type. You can combine with several things and change the ingredients to anything you prefer. There are so many distinct things you can add and cooking rice is very easy.”

3) Favorite dish to eat?

“Bread! Sandwiches of anchovies. When I’m alone I just made myself a sandwich with tuna or other Mediterranean ingredients. I also like pasta and fish and various things. I like everything!”

4) Do you have a family cookbook?

“No, I don’t use a cookbook because after cooking for so long it is easy to remember. I’ve also learned from observing my mom and grandma’s cooking, they didn’t write anything down either.”

5) Who taught you to cook?

“A little from my mom. She didn’t teach me but I would like to watch her cook and learn by myself. I learned from my grandma a little too.”

6) How would you describe yourself as a cook?

“Not a bad cook.”

7) Have you cooked professionally or always for fun?

“Never, only for my family or for fun. At big family parties I cook for large groups.”

8) How did you discover Grandmas Cooking?

“Veronica asked reached out to many grandmas at a school where there are many grandmas that serve as hosts for international students. She wanted help with her company and I liked her idea. It was very casual.”

9) What is your favorite part of working with Grandmas Cooking?

“I like best the people. My experience with the people of grandmas are people very nice and interested in the culture of the food. It’s been a great experience with mostly everyone.”

10) How would describe the meaning and social aspect behind Grandma’s Cooking?

“Its special because it’s a form of allowing people that are interested in the culture to learn the recipes.The social aspect if allowing the young people of a different culture to bond and interact with an older generation of people in Barcelona. The sharing and passing on of traditions to people younger.”

11) What is your fondest memory of a cooking class with Grandmas Cooking?

“I don’t have one. I have many. I remember a man who served for a military in Afghanistan. Also when I met Greg Wallace he was very nice and we got to spend the whole day getting to know him. As well, the last class I had a couple from France that was amazing. I loved them, they were very nice. I have very good memories of the classes.”

12) What is the weirdest/funniest memory of a cooking class with Grandmas?

“At the moment I don’t remember, but it’s funny when the kids get to cook and roll dough. They love it! It’s very cute.”

13) Fun fact about yourself?

“I’m quite spontaneous. And I have a passion for my granddaughter!”

14) Favorite restaurant in Barcelona?

“One of my favorites is a Thai restaurant close to passeig de gracia and gran via. Also for tapas I like Cerveseria Catalana Ciutat Contal. They have very good tapas. There are also good places in Barceloneta. The Gran Bodega is my favorite as well but a little expensive.”

15) Least favorite food?

“I don’t like the food that have heads still on the meat. I don’t like palomas or perdices. I don’t love turkey either.”

16) Coffee or tea?

“Coffee. I like coffee americano.”

17) If you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?

 “Bread! With anything”

18) What have you always wanted to learn to cook?

“Thai! I want to learn more sophisticated Catalan or Spanish plates as well.”

19) What food of yours does your family enjoy the most?

“My daughter’s favorite is a black rice paella. My granddaughter is 2 and loves broccoli! Also, she loves plain pasta and omelettes too.”

20) What do you do for fun?

“I love the movies, politics, and spending time with friends. I also love pools and the beach!”

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The Work Shop (Sarah)

I met with Veronica and the lovely family of four who were participating in the workshop with me. She led us to an adorable café with fitting vintage papier peints near Plaça Sant Pere, at the heart of historical Born neighborhood. We put on our aprons and were introduced to Adela, our grandma for the day. She presented the menu: “Cogollos” salad with Mediterranean dressing, followed by “Mandonguilles amb sepia” (meatballs with cuttlefish sauce). I thought, what a great choice! Travelers visiting Barcelona would not typically think of trying that sort of dishes. They would usually focus on tapas and paellas – and I don’t blame them, these are amazing. But these recipes are 100% authentic catalan cuisine, and have a homier feeling. You don’t usually order these at a restaurant, because you know your grandmother does them better.

During the workshop, Adela shared some of her best tricks – “cook the cuttlefish very little to keep it soft!” – and put us all to contribution, kids included. Kids had a blast making meatballs with their hands, and adults were treated with a refreshing cava cocktail while chopping calamari. It all went very fast, and around 1pm, we were all set to start eating. The food was great, but what struck me was the warmth and authenticity around the table. It really felt like a family lunch on a Sunday, just without the embarrassing jokes from your uncle.

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May Culinary Traditions Live On! (Author-Sarah)

They felt that Grandmas should have their well-deserved seat on the culinary scene, along with star chefs. And I can only agree with them: there is no better way to understand local food than to enter a grandmother’s kitchen. In Mediterranean countries like Spain, grandmothers are the heart and soul of traditional cooking. They hold a crucial role as they pass on recipes from one generation to the next, each adding their twist to the sauce. Family cookbooks, with their handwritten notes and scrappy looks, are small treasures that should be preserved and cared for. Because cooking is not so much about the recipe, but about feeling, sensing, and paying attention to the side notes. Sadly, it feels to me that this passing of knowledge has stopped at my grandmother’s generation. As for most of my friends, my mother didn’t teach me how to cook. All I know, I got it from spending time with my grandmothers in the kitchen. A few years ago, I started documenting all their best recipes, observing, listening, and occasionally filming them. I can’t stand the idea of losing generations of know-how!

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Community Through Food (Sarah)

Grandma’s Cooking Barcelona offers cooking workshops with local abuelas from Barcelona. They work with more than 20 Grandmothers – and a few Grandfathers, too – who are passionate about cooking and hospitality. You start the day shopping at the local market, where you decide what to cook based on fresh ingredients of the day. Then your Grandma of the Day teaches you her best tricks and recipes, and you share an amazing meal together. Sounds like fun right?

Veronica and Yves founded Grandma’s cooking together because they wanted to create a community through food. Their workshops allow travelers visiting Barcelona to experience genuine catalan food culture. And for Grandmas and Grandpas, they are a great way to stay active, connected, and share their passion for cooking.

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The Special Purpose Behind Grandma’s Cooking

Grandma’s Cooking allows for people to immerse themselves in the Catalan culture of Barcelona in a truly special way and I’ve never seen a better way to do so. I’m new to Barcelona and rather than going to restaurant in search of Catalan cuisine in Las Ramblas and other touristy parts, I urge you to take a step further and consider taking a class with Grandma’s Cooking.

The company is non-profit and values the social aspects behind their services. To be able to receive cooking lessons from a local grandma that is full of wisdom of the culture, food, and life in Barcelona. The Grandmas aren’t professional chefs and I think that imperfect aspect is what makes the experience a little more perfect.

 One of my first experiences in lesson lead by Grandma Pilar. It was amazing to be able to connect with a local and see the traditional aspects in her cooking.

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My Experience Interning for Grandma’s Cooking

I began my internship with Grandma’s Cooking in the beginning of September of 2019. I was interested in this organization not only because they are non-profit but also because of the culture of the company. On their company website you can read about the owner’s motivation, dedication, and passion that is behind their efforts in investing in their company to really give an amazing experience for newcomers in Barcelona.

I have gotten to experience several different cooking classes with Grandma’s Cooking and it’s amazing and so special to experience how each class is unique and special in its own way. Each family or group of several different families are able to create they’re own special bond to the Grandma and social cooker. It’s an environment full of love and comfort. In the last class I attended, the kids were missing their own Grandma because of the sense of comfort and love they were receiving from our Grandma at Grandma’s Cooking. It’s a special experience to understand and learn traditional recipes that have been passed down by generations in a Spanish or Catalan family.

 

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