Meghan made emotional return visit to Hubb Community Kitchen in North Kensington, West London

The pregnant Duchess of Sussex today made an emotional return visit to a community kitchen which inspired her collaborative work on a Grenfell Tower charity cookbook, telling the women: ‘I’m so proud of you.’

Meghan went to the Hubb Community Kitchen, not far from the site of the deadly tower block blaze in West London, to see first hand the progress made since the Together cookbook went on sale in September.

The mother-to-be was greeted warmly by kitchen co-ordinator Zaheera Sufyaan – whom she gave a big hug – and Abdurahman Sayed, chief executive of the Al Manaar Muslim Cultural Centre in North Kensington.

Meghan, who has been making private visits to the kitchen since January, quickly abandoned any formality when she got inside. She threw her arms around each of the women and kissed them, chattering excitedly about what they had been up to since she last saw them. ‘Hi, how are you? Wow, it’s so quiet in here,’ she said, giggling.

Wearing a burgundy dress and coat by Club Monaco, a Canadian company now owned by US fashion giant Polo Ralph Lauren, Meghan soon put on an apron, rolled up her sleeves and got stuck into helping prepare food.

She said to a group of women: ‘It starts from one idea and from this one idea starts so much. I’m so proud of you.’

The book – full title Together: Our Community Cookbook – took the number one spot on Amazon within hours of being unveiled two months ago and has since sold nearly 40,000 copies in the UK, raising £210,000.

Meghan hugs Zaheera Sufyaan, who is part of the Hubb Community Kitchen in West London as she visits the centre today

Meghan hugs Zaheera Sufyaan, who is part of the Hubb Community Kitchen in West London as she visits the centre today

Meghan warmly hugged Zaheera Sufyaan, the kitchen coordinator and one of her collaborators on the book
Meghan visit the  Hubb Community Kitchen

Meghan warmly hugs Ms Sufyaan, the kitchen coordinator and one of her collaborators on the book

Meghan, Duchess of Sussex poses for a group photo with members of the Hubb Community Kitchen in London this morning

Meghan, Duchess of Sussex poses for a group photo with members of the Hubb Community Kitchen in London this morning

 The cookbook featured more than 50 recipes from women whose community was affected by the Grenfell Tower fire

 The cookbook featured more than 50 recipes from women whose community was affected by the Grenfell Tower fire

Meghan, whose first baby with Prince Harry is due in the spring, holds her bump today as she talks to the chefs

Meghan, whose first baby with Prince Harry is due in the spring, holds her bump today as she talks to the chefs

Meghan speaks with chef Clare Smyth (right) as they visit the Hubb Community Kitchen in West London this morning

Meghan speaks with chef Clare Smyth (right) as they visit the Hubb Community Kitchen in West London this morning

Wearing a burgundy dress and coat by Club Monaco, Meghan got involved in helping prepare the food this morning

Wearing a burgundy dress and coat by Club Monaco, Meghan got involved in helping prepare the food this morning

Kitchen co-ordinator Ms Sufyaan waves to the cameras as she and Meghan enter the community kitchen in London today

Kitchen co-ordinator Ms Sufyaan waves to the cameras as she and Meghan enter the community kitchen in London today

Bumper sales of the cookbook, which features more than 50 recipes from women whose community was affected by the fire, have allowed a total makeover of the kitchen as well as longer opening hours.

Meghan, who suggested the idea of a fundraising cookbook when she first met the women, has previously described it as a ‘tremendous labour of love’.

The kitchen, redesigned with the women’s input to capture its spirit as a place for the community to come together over meals, now opens seven days a week, up from just two when it began last year.

Those involved have also been able to obtain food hygiene qualifications and been empowered to start their own projects for the benefit of the wider community.

Projects, supported by the social entrepreneur foundation UnLtd, include a group for women affected by domestic violence, a scheme to deliver freshly cooked meals for women on maternity wards, and a project to produce healthy treats for children.

Today, 200 meals being prepared in the kitchen were destined for local groups, including elderly people’s homes, homeless shelters and women’s refuges. The dishes include Egyptian lamb fattah, Persian chicken and barberry rice.

The meals she helped prepare today included rainbow roasted vegetables, a recipe in the book from Ahlam Saeid, an Iraqi chemist, who stood chatting to the Duchess as she mixed the vegetables.

Meghan drank ginger tea as she spoke to some of the women who have been motivated to go on and develop further projects including making healthy snacks for children, and preparing food for the homeless.

The Duchess of Sussex wears a ring with a heart-shaped detail as she visits the Hubb Community Kitchen this morning

The Duchess of Sussex wears a ring with a heart-shaped detail as she visits the Hubb Community Kitchen this morning

The Duchess of Sussex arrives at the Hubb Community Kitchen in North Kensington this morning
Meghan helps out in North Kensington today

The Duchess of Sussex arrives at the Hubb Community Kitchen in North Kensington this morning

The women were preparing 200 meals in just one day, to be delivered to local groups, including elderly people's homes

The women were preparing 200 meals in just one day, to be delivered to local groups, including elderly people’s homes

Together has sold more than 40,000 copies in the UK and raised £210,000 so far in the seven weeks since it went on sale

Together has sold more than 40,000 copies in the UK and raised £210,000 so far in the seven weeks since it went on sale

The new facilities provide a safe and professional space for the women to cook, gather and run activities in their community

The new facilities provide a safe and professional space for the women to cook, gather and run activities in their community

Previously the kitchen was only able to open two days a week due to funding - but now this has gone up to seven days

Previously the kitchen was only able to open two days a week due to funding – but now this has gone up to seven days

Meghan helped prepare the food as she introduced chef Clare Smyth (far left), a friend of hers, to volunteers in the kitchen 

Meghan helped prepare the food as she introduced chef Clare Smyth (far left), a friend of hers, to volunteers in the kitchen

The Duchess of Sussex has a drink as she visits the Hubb Community Kitchen in West Loidon this morning

The Duchess of Sussex has a drink as she visits the Hubb Community Kitchen in West Loidon this morning

The duchess smiled as she met the women as they prepared fresh meals for the community in the newly renovated kitchen

The duchess smiled as she met the women as they prepared fresh meals for the community in the newly renovated kitchen

Meghan sits at a table at the kitchen
Together has appeared in the Sunday Times and New York Times Bestseller lists, selling tens of thousands of copies

Together has appeared in the Sunday Times and New York Times Bestseller lists, selling tens of thousands of copies

She also introduced chef Clare Smyth, a friend of hers, to the volunteers in the kitchen. Smiling, Meghan said: ‘I’m so proud of you. It’s really exciting.’

The people involved in the kitchen are ‘incredible’, said Ms Smyth, who visited the kitchen for the first time with Meghan.

Meghan drank ginger tea as she spoke to some of the women who have been motivated to go on and develop further projects including making healthy snacks for children, and preparing food for the homeless.

The Co Antrim-born chef, who now lives in London and has a restaurant near the community facility, said: ‘If everyone took care of their community like this there would be no issues in the world.’

Ms Smith said Meghan had spoken with passion about the kitchen. ‘She’s really into food, she’s a real foodie.’

The Duchess told the group: ‘It hasn’t been a year yet. From that standpoint, what you have achieved in that short space of time… it’s really exciting.’

Community kitchens around Britain, including ones in Brixton in South London, Barnet in North London and Scotland, as well as a US group, have been in touch, asking to meet or swap ideas.

Other projects that they are now working on include a group for women affected by domestic violence, a scheme to deliver freshly cooked meals for women on maternity wards, and a project to produce healthy food for children.

The women have been empowered to start their own projects, which will help others in their community benefit

The women have been empowered to start their own projects, which will help others in their community benefit

Meghan bids farewell to kitchen co-ordinator Ms Sufyaan following her visit to the kitchen in North Kensington today
Meghan embraces Ms Sufyaan outside the centre

Meghan bids farewell to kitchen co-ordinator Ms Sufyaan following her visit to the kitchen in North Kensington today

The Duchess of Sussex and her friend, chef Clare Smyth (left), visit the Hubb Community Kitchen this morning

The Duchess of Sussex and her friend, chef Clare Smyth (left), visit the Hubb Community Kitchen this morning

The Duchess of Sussex speaks to the women at the Hubb Community Kitchen as she finds out how funds are being used

 

The Duchess of Sussex speaks to the women at the Hubb Community Kitchen as she finds out how funds are being used

Those involved have also been able to obtain food hygiene qualifications and been empowered to start their own projects

Those involved have also been able to obtain food hygiene qualifications and been empowered to start their own projects

The dishes prepared by the kitchen today include Egyptian lamb fattah, Persian chicken and barberry rice
Meghan gets stuck in with helping to prepare the food

The dishes prepared by the kitchen today include Egyptian lamb fattah, Persian chicken and barberry rice

Meghan suggested the idea of a fundraising cookbook when she first met the women in North Kensington

Meghan suggested the idea of a fundraising cookbook when she first met the women in North Kensington

Meghan has previously described the book - Together: Our Community Cookbook - as a "tremendous labour of love"

 

Meghan has previously described the book – Together: Our Community Cookbook – as a ‘tremendous labour of love’

Meghan arrived at the kitchen to see first hand the progress made since the Together cookbook went on sale

Meghan arrived at the kitchen to see first hand the progress made since the Together cookbook went on sale

The book went number one on Amazon within hours of being unveiled and has since sold nearly 40,000 copies in the UK

The book went number one on Amazon within hours of being unveiled and has since sold nearly 40,000 copies in the UK

Professional chefs will be brought into the centre to give cooking masterclasses to the women. Today Meghan invited Ms Smyth, the British chef who cooked for guests and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s evening wedding reception in May, to come along to see what the women had achieved.

Northern Ireland-born Ms Smyth, who became the first British female chef to hold and retain three Michelin stars, runs a restaurant, Core by Clare Smyth, in nearby Notting Hill and pledged to come into the centre to work with the women.

‘Every community needs something like this. If we could all do something together, we could solve the world’s problems,’ the chef said. She praised their culinary skills, adding: ‘They definitely don’t need my help but if there is anything I can do to help them, I will.’

The meals being prepared in the redesigned kitchen today, as Aretha Franklin music was piped out in the background, were for local groups, including elderly people’s homes, homeless shelters and women’s refuges.

The dishes include Egyptian lamb fattah, Persian chicken and barberry rice.

Los Angeles-born Meghan enthused about the idea of food and meals as a means of bringing families and communities together. ‘It’s Thanksgiving tomorrow so it’s the same thing about sharing,’ she said.

One woman, Faiza Hayani, whose signature dishes in the cookbook include Algerian couscous, Algerian sweet lamb, and plum cake, told the Duchess that she has just been given the go-ahead to start a project teaching French, English and computer skills to local immigrant women.

Meghan, who lived in Canada for several years, told her: ‘I’ve been trying to get better at my French. I’ve been trying to practise quite a bit.’

The kitchen has been redesigned with the women's input to capture its spirit as a place for the community to come together

The kitchen has been redesigned with the women’s input to capture its spirit as a place for the community to come together

The kitchen has become a place where people come together over meals and now opens seven days a week, up from just two

The kitchen has become a place where people come together over meals and now opens seven days a week, up from just two

Meghan soon put on an apron, rolled up her sleeves and got stuck into helping prepare food this morning

Meghan soon put on an apron, rolled up her sleeves and got stuck into helping prepare food this morning

Meghan speaks to the chefs as she visits the community kitchen today to see how funds raised are making a difference

Meghan speaks to the chefs as she visits the community kitchen today to see how funds raised are making a difference

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