This website uses cookies to improve your experience navigating our site. By continuing to browse, you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

OK, I understand

Fancy New Digs For Free To Feed

Creative People

We love a good ‘glow up’ story from a team of legends – and there’s no one more legendary than the crew at Free To Feed!

Founded by husband and wife duo Loretta and Daniel Bolotin in 2015, the not-for-profit social enterprise exists to provide training and meaningful employment for people seeking asylum and refugees through the creation of shared food experiences. More broadly though, they’ve created an incredible community of hosts, trainees, volunteers and participants through their cooking school, training programs and catering ventures.

Now this community has a new place to call home – a grand new events space designed by Circle Studio Architects in Fitzroy North, Victoria,  where they can showcase the very best of what they have to offer!

25th May, 2021

Team Free To Feed in their new Fitzroy North Home! Console table by Poly. Photo – Amelia Stanwix.

A cosy nook for conversations. Photo – Amelia Stanwix.

Photo – Amelia Stanwix.

Many items were styled and sourced by Made Rupert. Photo – Amelia Stanwix.

Console table by Poly. Photo – Amelia Stanwix.

Console table by Poly. Photo – Amelia Stanwix.

Tables by Proxima. Photo – Amelia Stanwix.

Tables by Proxima. Photo – Amelia Stanwix.

Ceramics sourced by Made Rupert. Photo – Amelia Stanwix.

Photo – Amelia Stanwix.

Lighting by Anchor Ceramics. Benchtop by Proxima. Photo – Amelia Stanwix.

Photo – Amelia Stanwix.

Photo – Amelia Stanwix.

Cosy vibes in this big new space thanks to this Chimnees Philippe Fireplace gifted by Wignells. Photo – Amelia Stanwix.

Sally Tabart
Tuesday 25th May 2021

‘We saw a glimmer of potential and the scale felt inspirational, ambitious and the right kind of scary!’ Loretta Bolotin. 

When Free To Feed founded its cooking school in 2015, they didn’t have a kitchen. Borrowing from cafes after hours they founded the not-for-profit social enterprise to help get their organisation off the ground. Six years later, and the Free To Feed team have just put the finishing touches on a spectacular new space in Fitzroy North to host events, cooking experiences, creative workshops, hospitality training programs and more!

This lofty new space designed by Circle Studio Architects features original timber beams and terrazzo tiled floors, as well as plenty of pieces brought in from local designers and artists (thanks to the styling team at Made Rupert). Spread out over 800sqm, it might just be big enough to hold the epic dreams and ideas coming from the Free To Feed community.

We chatted with founder Loretta Bolotin to hear a bit more about how it came to life.

Can you tell us a little about this new space? how long did it take to bring it to life? 

Loretta: In late 2020, we hit the streets in search for our new home, we were looking for a new kitchen to house our evolving catering offering and our new Commercial Cooking Training and Employment Program when we came across a run down space that had lived many former lives (as a motor car garage, nightclub and barbecue retailer…) It was dark and dank and kind of falling apart but it had some fundamentals that we were very curious about. An almost-ready commercial kitchen, high-ceilings, original timber beams, terrazzo tiled floors as well as big windows that opened and were hinting at the wonderful afternoon light that could pour through. In all these details and given the incredible Fitzroy North location, we saw a glimmer of potential and the scale felt inspirational, ambitious and the right kind of scary! The expansiveness of the space [800sqm] meant there was potential to expand our impact, offer more employment opportunities and finally become the attentive and generous hosts we always wanted to be when we “grew up”.

Talk us through the space itself. What kind of events and activities will happen here?

We can’t tell you everything we’ll be doing here because that’ll just spoil all the fun! But we’ve got big ambitions and a seasonal program of stunning events that we can’t wait to reveal over the coming months. Currently we are running some sold out Blooms (floristry) and Baklava making workshops and have already started to host birthday parties and team dinners in our spaces!

The grand ballroom space has a roaring fireplace for wintery long table dinners and it’s neutral and flexible for us to style as we please whether that be for cocktail events or communal meals.

There’s an active workshop space for cooking experiences and creative workshops, an intimate living and dining room, where guests can gather for a meal or browse our extensive cookbook collection on our cosy sofa, our grazing tables and florals will be a BIG feature and in spring we can’t wait to open up the space to weddings and in summer we can’t wait to host beautiful end of year functions!

And of course, we’re already using the kitchen for our training and employment opportunities! Seeing our Chefs and Participants deep in concentration brings us all SO MUCH JOY!

It feels like Free To Feed has come back better than ever after 20202. How has the business evolved over the last five years – from working in borrowed spaces to now having this grand events space of your own?

Our humble beginnings date back to 2015 when we decided to open up a cooking school without a kitchen! Borrowing cafe kitchens around Melbourne to run our classes in the early years, as word got around about what we were doing we took on a little shop front in Thornbury.

In 2017 we set up an official cooking school – it’s still there on High street Northcote and currently hosts five immersive cooking experiences per week in a variety of ever evolving cuisines, we have instructors who are Lebanese, Syriac, Colombian, Iraqi and Iranian ready to run you through their incredible menus! Today after so much experience we are proud to say that we facilitate true empowering opportunities for our cooking instructors as part of our Program. Not only do these participants run their own classes but we also offer them leadership training covering areas like communication and storytelling, advocacy, public speaking and media opportunities should they wish.

We’ve also expanded our offering further into the catering and events industry with our signature grazing tables taking a true centre stage. Our participant pool today is made up of around 80% women, who have opportunities to gain accredited certification in Commercial Cookery through our program under the guidance of professional chefs, and can gain experience in hosting events and front of house service.

In 2021, our programs will touch 120 beneficiaries.

Throughout our journey, a constant essence remains, together, as a team, we are committed to providing empowering employment opportunities to people seeking asylum through the creation of shared food experiences!

You can book  the fab new Free To Feed space for your next event here

Free To Feed
205 – 211 Queens Parade
Fitzroy North, Victoria

This Week

2.02

Art en Route

A Visit to the Blue Mountains with Jono Fleming, and Ford Puma

Sydney stylist Jono Fleming is our tour guide for a dreamy day trip to the Blue Mountains, in the new Ford Puma!
Lucy Feagins
  10 hours ago

Homes

An Interior Designer’s Mini Converted Warehouse That Feels Like Home

In past lives, this little converted warehouse in Fitzroy has been a secret bar and a photographic studio. Now, it’s the charming rental h...

Gardens

Three Trees + A Pool - The Love Story Of A Wild-Looking, Natural Garden

Mcnuttndorff Landscapes tamed this rambling Fairfield garden around a new pool and three majestic eucalypts!

Shopping

Seven Local Kids Design Brands We Can’t Get Enough Of!

Seven of our favourite local kids brands, and where to find them!
Amelia Barnes
  2 hours ago

News

Laminex Extend Their Epic Colour Collection With These On-Trend Hues

The heritage Australian company adds seventeen new ‘decors’ to its offering, including warm earthy shades, stone-look textures + woodgra...
Sponsored

Architecture

An Architect’s Reworking Of Sir Roy Grounds’ Former Balmain Home

A heritage 1970s house in Balmain once owned by Sir Roy Grounds has been its re-engineered by its present owner, architect Conrad Johnston o...

Architecture

A Bushy Family Home That Brings The Outdoors In

You'd never know that this clever home by Anthrosite Architects shields its occupants from a busy motorway on one side of the house.

Interiors

A Peaceful, Pastel Transformation Of A Petite Art Deco Apartment

Rosanna Ceravolo creates a new, sympathetic interior personality for a two-bedroom flat in the leafy suburb of South Yarra.

Architecture

An Architecture Power Couple’s Extraordinary Concrete Home

Inside 'La Scala’ – the contemporary, concrete Brisbane home of architects Ingrid Richards and Adrian Spence, co-founders of Richards an...

Interiors

Everything You Need To Know About Working With An Interior Designer

What does an interior designer do, and how much does a residential project cost? Here's everything you need to know, with info from leading

Shopping

The Aboriginal-Owned Homewares Brand Bringing First Nations Art To Homes + Classrooms Across Australia!

Bundjalung/Minjungbal woman Emma Rolls of Emro Designs shares her collection of rugs, cushions and soon-to-be-released picnic mats featuring...

Art

The Secret Mystical Paintings of International Art Sensation, Hilma af Klint

The visionary Swedish artist’s enormous colourful artworks were hidden from the world for decades. Now, they are on show at Art Gallery of...

Gardens

A Vacant Cow Paddock Turned Relaxed Australian Country Garden

Weeds and camphor are replaced by lush natives, a veggie garden and a hilltop plunge pool in this country garden by Fig Landscapes.

News

Cute Handmade Aprons For Tiny Chefs!

Little Linens sell patterned aprons designed, printed and hand-sewn from a kitchen table in Melbourne!
Sasha Aarons

Creative People

Andalusian-Inspired Lampshades, Handwoven In Sydney

Lana Launay makes her textured light covers from natural materials such as coffee-stained raffia, coconut shell rope and bamboo yarn.

View Comments

Similar Stories

Food

Learn From Free To Feed's Favourite Cooking Instructors, In The Comfort Of Your Own Home!

Learn how to cook a delicious Persian feast at home with All Together Now, a new community cooking initiative from the beloved Melbourne-bas...

Food

Free to Feed · Herb Yoghurt and Beetroot Dips

Two fragrant, textural dips sure to add excitement to any mezze platter!
Hamed Allahyari & Julia Busuttil Nishimura of Free to Feed

Dream Job

Nayran Tabiei · Cooking Instructor, Free to Feed

In between guiding a group of receptive young participants through the art of tabouli-tiny parsley chopping, the former Damascene chronicles...
Elle Murrell

This Week

Interiors

Everything You Need To Know About Working With An Interior Designer

What does an interior designer do, and how much does a residential project cost? Here's everything you need to know, with info from leading

News

Laminex Extend Their Epic Colour Collection With These On-Trend Hues

The heritage Australian company adds seventeen new ‘decors’ to its offering, including warm earthy shades, stone-look textures + woodgra...
Sponsored

Architecture

An Architect’s Reworking Of Sir Roy Grounds’ Former Balmain Home

A heritage 1970s house in Balmain once owned by Sir Roy Grounds has been its re-engineered by its present owner, architect Conrad Johnston o...

Homes

An Interior Designer’s Mini Converted Warehouse That Feels Like Home

In past lives, this little converted warehouse in Fitzroy has been a secret bar and a photographic studio. Now, it’s the charming rental h...

Gardens

Three Trees + A Pool - The Love Story Of A Wild-Looking, Natural Garden

Mcnuttndorff Landscapes tamed this rambling Fairfield garden around a new pool and three majestic eucalypts!

Architecture

A Bushy Family Home That Brings The Outdoors In

You'd never know that this clever home by Anthrosite Architects shields its occupants from a busy motorway on one side of the house.

News

Cute Handmade Aprons For Tiny Chefs!

Little Linens sell patterned aprons designed, printed and hand-sewn from a kitchen table in Melbourne!
Sasha Aarons

Interiors

A Peaceful, Pastel Transformation Of A Petite Art Deco Apartment

Rosanna Ceravolo creates a new, sympathetic interior personality for a two-bedroom flat in the leafy suburb of South Yarra.
2.02

Art en Route

A Visit to the Blue Mountains with Jono Fleming, and Ford Puma

Sydney stylist Jono Fleming is our tour guide for a dreamy day trip to the Blue Mountains, in the new Ford Puma!
Lucy Feagins
  10 hours ago

Architecture

An Architecture Power Couple’s Extraordinary Concrete Home

Inside 'La Scala’ – the contemporary, concrete Brisbane home of architects Ingrid Richards and Adrian Spence, co-founders of Richards an...

Shopping

The Aboriginal-Owned Homewares Brand Bringing First Nations Art To Homes + Classrooms Across Australia!

Bundjalung/Minjungbal woman Emma Rolls of Emro Designs shares her collection of rugs, cushions and soon-to-be-released picnic mats featuring...

Shopping

Seven Local Kids Design Brands We Can’t Get Enough Of!

Seven of our favourite local kids brands, and where to find them!
Amelia Barnes
  2 hours ago

Gardens

A Vacant Cow Paddock Turned Relaxed Australian Country Garden

Weeds and camphor are replaced by lush natives, a veggie garden and a hilltop plunge pool in this country garden by Fig Landscapes.

Art

The Secret Mystical Paintings of International Art Sensation, Hilma af Klint

The visionary Swedish artist’s enormous colourful artworks were hidden from the world for decades. Now, they are on show at Art Gallery of...

Creative People

Andalusian-Inspired Lampshades, Handwoven In Sydney

Lana Launay makes her textured light covers from natural materials such as coffee-stained raffia, coconut shell rope and bamboo yarn.

Similar Stories

Food

Learn From Free To Feed's Favourite Cooking Instructors, In The Comfort Of Your Own Home!

A new community cooking initiative from the beloved Melbourne-based social enterprise.

Food

Free to Feed · Herb Yoghurt and Beetroot Dips

Two fragrant, textural dips sure to add excitement to any mezze platter!
Hamed Allahyari & Julia Busuttil Nishimura of Free to Feed

Dream Job

Nayran Tabiei · Cooking Instructor, Free to Feed

In between guiding a group of receptive young participants through the art of tabouli-tiny parsley chopping, the former Damascene chronicles...
Elle Murrell

The Design Files acknowledge the traditional custodians of the lands on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

First Nations artists, designers, makers and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files – we would love to hear from you.

Please email us here.