Inside The Elephant’s Secret Kitchen

Inside The Elephant’s Secret Kitchen

Students and staff at the London College of Communication (LCC) have teamed up with a local vegan and vegetarian restaurant, Cafe at Jamyang, to create a mouthwatering new cookbook – The Elephant’s Secret Kitchen. Inspired by a lunchtime conversation, the beautiful cookbook is packed with local flavour recipes.

Tucked away in the Jamyang Buddhist Centre  on Renfrew Road, Elephant and Castle, Cafe at Jamyang has long been a popular lunchtime destination for those seeking quality vegan and vegetarian food. One of the area’s hidden gems, the restaurant is regularly full of hungry staff and students from the nearby LCC.

During one busy lunchtime in 2017, a casual conversation between customers from the LCC and the cafe’s chef, Ilaria Mezzogori, sparked a collaboration – and the idea for a cookbook was born, showcasing the talents of both local institutions. 

From this initial chat, LCC colleagues Rahel Zoller, book arts specialist technician, and Florence Hawkins, screen-printing and natural dye technician, embarked on a project that brought in students from across LCC’s specialisms. They teamed up to design, illustrate, photograph and produce the cookbook, The Elephant’s Secret Kitchen.

The book combines 108 tasty vegetarian and vegan recipes, plus anecdotes from Mezzogori, with elegant design and illustration by the students, creating a personal and engaging book that captures the vibe of Cafe at Jamyang. 

For Zoller and Hawkins, the 170-page cookbook gave their students an opportunity to engage in a real-world design-and-print project, giving them valuable experience of project management and delivery. Students and staff donated their time, energy and expertise, and the initial 1,000-copy run was printed in-house, on the college’s Heidelberg lithography press, using eco-friendly paper stock and inks. Natural dyes extracted from the cafe’s vegetable waste were also used to colour the fabric bookmark ribbons that accompany each book.

The result? An exquisite publication created through a recipe of talent, creativity, skill and hard work that is much, much more than your average cookbook.

The Elephant’s Secret Kitchen is on sale at the Cafe at Jamyang, or it can be ordered for £18 from here.