From the time Sophie Stokes was 7 years old, she was in the kitchen with her Greek-Australian relatives preparing treats to serve to her large family and many friends.
For Sophie, this inclusive and vibrant environment ignited a passion for both food and learning, a passion she still follows boldly today.
We were lucky to be invited when Sophie recently held a large get together at her home showcasing her cultural culinary prowess; Sophie hosts with a broad, engaging smile and a warmth to her welcome as though you are family.
With a background in Early Childhood education, when it came time to send her own girls off to school – Sophie elected to home school them.
“My thing is creative education, I call it Imagination Activation!” Sophie explains. This took the family around the world, making travel journals, discovering new cultures… with a fair dose of learning in the kitchen too.
8 years ago the family moved to Newcastle for work and university opportunities for the children, and have found the city so versatile, multicultural and beautiful that they absolutely love living here. Not to mention the great foodie options for Sophie!
Recently, Sophie’s children completed their homeschooling and it was time for a new chapter.
“It was time for me to have a new impact on the world,” she tells us.
In 2015 Sophie donated some resource books to Mebaya Orphanage in Tanzania, to help them establish their education programs and the orphanage invited her to come to Tanzania to assist.
While in Africa, Sophie was speaking with Elina Karamelina and was discussing the resources the Tanzanian children had – often donated books in English about Santa and snowy winters.
After this talk an idea was born.
“It was a spur of the moment conversation with Elina really and 8 months later we were publishing our own children’s book,” says Sophie.
Kula Chakula is Hungry! was created to honor the cultures of the children in Africa and also as a celebration of the languages spoken locally and in surrounding countries. The book is written in Swahili, as well as English and Greek.
The book has had a wonderful response with African educators loving their new resource.
“Actually, I just shipped a whole box of books to Athens for an art conference there and I am so excited that Greek children will be learning about the Swahili language and African Culture too,” Sophie tells us excitedly, “and I have been honored to do a few readings of the book in local Newcastle preschools too.”
“We all have differences, but hey – lets embrace them!” Sophie says in her bubbly tone.
Writing and education are a large part of Sophie’s calling but, true to her own heritage, so is excellent food.
This led Sophie to start food blogging at In Sofia’s Kitchen, a journey of hospitality written through recipes and adventures. The success of this blog has led to a cookbook, In Sofia’s Kitchen: Mediterranean Flavours Down Under, which is launching in Newcastle on November 26th, in true Sofia’s Kitchen Style – with lots of friends, food, culture and celebration.
Sophie would like all to feel welcome to attend the launch if you would like to pick up a copy and enjoy some of the tasty samples like these on offer.
And what is next for Sophie? So much!
A new multicultural children’s book is underway being published in both English and Norwegian (thanks to her Norwegian illustrator) and Sophie will be working on another cookbook and cooking workshops.
“I’m looking forward to the continued journey – delighting families and friends through food and hospitality,” Sophie tells us.