SEEfest Accelerator Alumna Ivana Strajin Joins Forces with Dunn Vision
Food is so personal. Growing up, some of my favorite childhood memories were those spent in the kitchen cooking with my dad and baking with my mom. As a kid, I didn’t realize that what we were preparing had any cultural significance. It was just food. I thought everyone in Toronto made sarma in the winter!
Now more than ever, I treasure these multi-generational family recipes as many members of the diaspora do. We preserve these recipes because they connect us, not only to our heritage but to loved ones, both alive and long lost.
HOMEMADE Celebrates Cultural Heritage Through Food
I knew that this personal connection to food was universal. I wondered what kinds of interesting stories we’d hear if we asked home cooks to tell us about their most treasured family recipes and the meaning behind them. Feeling inspired, I decided I wanted to create a web series that would shine a spotlight on home cooks. HOMEMADE was born.
Several Canadian home cooks agreed to share their stories. We went into their homes and kitchens. We filmed them as they prepared their favorite dish or meal. We interviewed them afterward. We asked them about the personal significance of the dish, and they shared more than just the mechanics of how to prepare the dish. They shared heartwarming stories and unique traditions associated with these deeply personal recipes.
HOMEMADE features recipes from all around the world, from South India to Haiti. However, there are seven episodes. Naturally, we could not get to every region! Perhaps it will be a possibility in the future.
Our very first episode features a home cook whose family heritage is from South East Europe! Yasemin Kamci shares her family’s Turkish-Cypriot dolma recipe. For centuries, stuffed grape leaves have been a staple in the cuisines of countries across South Eastern Europe to Central Asia. Depending on where you enjoy these culinary delights, they may be referred to as dolma, dolmeh, sarmice… and more!
Yasemin’s multi-generational recipe features grape leaves that are stuffed with rice, tomatoes, and herbs. It happens to be a completely vegan recipe. That said, it’s common to find variations on this recipe that include ground beef or lamb. Some include zucchini, peppers, and eggplants. Aside from regional nuances, every household has its own take on this classic dish.
In Yasemin’s family, dolma represented the start of summer in Ontario. Her parents grew grapevines in their backyard and would pick the leaves to make dolma. Everyone would save their appetite all day to leave room for their big dolma feast in the evening. While we couldn’t time travel to Yasemin’s childhood to film these family gatherings, Jane Guan, our animator, transports us there through her beautiful illustrations.
We featured Episode 1: Dolma by Yasemin Kamci in our short festival run. It was this very episode that caught the attention of the team at Dunn Vision. They saw the episode and reached out to me directly to include our series on their new streaming service. The episodes are now available for your viewing!
My hope for audience members is that you’ll resonate with the stories shared by our home cooks and continue to treasure your family recipes, traditions, and memories.