The Great Oven has been building giant community ovens and sending them to places of need for over two years – to refugee camps, war-torn communities, and now inner cities in crisis.
Born in Tripoli, Northern Lebanon and operating in refugee camps in the Bekaa Valley throughout the COVID pandemic, we are now responding to the Beirut blast.
With the full endorsement of the Lebanese Foodbank, each of our ovens is capable of producing over 1,000 meals per day. Our plan is to greatly increase this reach by expanding our number of oven sites nationwide.
Our Work To Date
Today, the Great Oven HQ is located next to the epicenter of the blast site, in Lebanon’s most respected nightclub of all places, the Ballroom Blitz. Each day, between 10 - 20 local volunteers contribute to the preparation of meals and supplies which are then distributed to our oven sites.
Over a month on from the blast, with media fatigue setting in and many temporary relief efforts already withdrawing, our work is crucial. We believe that responses to Lebanon’s escalating crisis must be long term in their vision and center the Lebanese people as agents of their own reconstruction and resilience-building process.
By its very nature, The Great Oven is uniquely positioned to provide assistance through this framework. Not only do we set up enduring networks but our ovens are permanent installations that belong to the communities in which they are based. As centres for cooking, teaching and sharing a meal, our ovens facilitate a creative and participatory experience that brings communities together and fosters social cohesion.
Where will your support go?
The Great Oven has self-funded its operations for over two years. We are proud of our self-sustainability but now feel it is time to grow. We can’t do this without your support.
Each kind donation will be used to fund our basic operational costs, all of which are listed below:
- Production and installation of more community ovens in areas of critical need in Beirut and nationwide
- Sourcing local food produce for each oven
- Distribution of food beyond Great Oven sites across the city
- Oven transport and logistics
Our only paid salaries to date, go to marginalised people we founded our movement with. This includes LGBTQ refugees, stateless youths, trafficked women, and ex child fighters to name a few.
More about the Great Oven
We build great big beautiful ovens to feed a great number of people.
But the oven is also symbolic. It represents our belief that the ritual of cooking and sharing meals helps bring communities together, whatever their faith, ethnicity or gender.
We also believe in the rehabilitative power of music and art to restore faith that a better future is possible.
What we offer is not aid in the traditional sense, but the participatory tools to empower a community to build that future for themselves, and with those tools comes an inherent sense of dignity, which is as important as food relief in nourishing a marginalised community.
We work with grassroots, on-the-ground, local initiatives and organisers in order to respond organically and effectively to each community’s unique needs.
What we’re offering in return
The Great Oven was founded by award-winning cook, documentary filmmaker and philanthropist, James Thompson. Our wider team is a collective of chefs, artists and creative thinkers dedicated to making positive change through food and art.
We are eternally grateful for any donation, no matter how big or small. For any substantial contributions, we would like to offer a very special thank you in true Great Oven style:
Donations of £1,000 or more
A private Great Oven feast cooked by Great Oven chefs (and special guests) at your home.
Donations of £250 or more
A seat at a one-off Great Oven community feast in one of the following locations:
These feasts will feature several special guests of the culinary, music and art worlds. These feasts will be scheduled to take place when COVID-19 restrictions soften. In the meantime, your name will be added to the guestlist for the feast in your selected city.
Thank you in advance for your kind support. Your generosity means the world to us and to the people of Lebanon.
- Racha Khodr
- Paula Page
- Carmel Hurcombe