CambridgeSpace members’ lunch with a twist

admin/ April 11, 2017/ Community

CambridgeSpace provides freelancers/small businesses with an alternative to working from home or a coffee shop. But building a community, collaboration, creativity and making an impact together are very important to us too.

We also know that running a business and good eating habits don’t always go hand in hand. So we started thinking creatively about how we could make our lunchtime events a bit different, more engaging – and of course healthy! Everyone can host a pizza and beer evening or buy a cake. We wanted something unique, something that would bring us together. Previous lunches we have hosted, everyone brought something to share – salad, pasta, sandwiches, wraps, fruits or even a quiche! But this time we wanted something even more special and engaging.


The perfect solution introduced itself when Alex Collis from FoodCycle Cambridge joined our wizard team. FoodCycle is a charity offering weekly free meals to local communities using surplus produce collected from local supermarkets and independent shops and cooked entirely by volunteers. When she suggested doing a Masterchef style ‘mystery box’ challenge using FoodCycle’s spare donations, we jumped at the chance.


”I wanted to give people a taste (quite literally) of what volunteering with FoodCycle is like,” Alex told us.  “Every week is like one big mystery box for us – great fun, and leads to some interesting experiments in the kitchen.”


A few days before our community lunch, Alex brought in a basket filled with lots of mysterious ingredients ranging from the simple (potatoes, carrots and such) to the more exotic Brussels sprouts and even a Jerusalem artichoke. Each member picked at random and then had to use their mystery ingredient to create something to share at the lunch. This meant we all had to prepare or cook something instead of simply buying pre-prepared food from the supermarket, which is all too easy most days.


Everyone was really excited about the idea, even though it required a bit more thought. Knowing that everyone else would have to prepare something got members more engaged before and during the event. As members started to arrive on the day, it became more and more clear that we were going to have a proper feast. And we did! Just have a look at these pictures…


Amazing! The meals varied from simple potato gratin, chicken and broccoli with heavenly homemade blue cheese sauce to more complicated recipes like stuffed peppers with minced meat, Brussels sprout salad with bacon, coleslaw with tangerines or beetroot falafels. Our prize for the most creative recipe (and most difficult ingredient) goes to another wizard Tim, who prepared wonderful hummus out of his Jerusalem artichoke.

Here’s what some of our members said after the lunch:

‘A multicultural culinary extravaganza with fun and laughter’ – Jim J Doyle

‘Being a new member it was my first time eating together with the other members of the Space. I was really happy for the mystery box challenge, because we had occasion to prepare something delicious from food waste with the contribution of Cambridge Food Cycle. Overall it was a nice experience we shared with each other not just the food but also our work experiences as well.’ – Tunde Szentes

‘It was a great occasion to get to know each other better. Food sharing, as even anthropologists acknowledge, is from the early beginning of human civilization one of the most important and ubiquitous forms of cooperative behavior.’ – Daniel Tovisi

‘I really enjoyed the chance to meet other members – I only use the office one day a week and so many people were new to me. It was very good to sit down and eat with people and hear what they do and what they’re interested in. My initial reason for signing up was to find a good workspace but I can see that the benefits stretch beyond that – to joining a network.’ –  Olivia Bays


A big thanks to all our members who joined us and put so much effort into cooking! This definitely won’t be the last time we organise an event like this! Any suggestions for future events also very welcome.