Chef Julia Child perhaps said it best when she said, “People who love to eat are always the best people.”

We at Overland could not agree more. Last year, Designer Alyssa Johnston came up with the idea to have an event where employees could bring a dish representative of where they grew up to share with everyone at the office. The objective was simple: bring a dish from your native country, a personal favorite recipe, or a dish that you grew up eating. Hence, the ‘Mama’s Cookin’ potluck was born.

“I love that we all have our own stories,” Johnston said. “Most of us will most likely never get to visit all of the places that are represented by the people at Overland, but this gives us the opportunity to learn more about where people come from and get to experience a small piece of it. Everyone gets so excited about the nostalgia of making a dish from their country or from their childhood, and you find yourself having conversations with people you wouldn’t have had otherwise. Funny that all of that can come from food!”

After the immediate success of the first potluck in 2017, we decided to expand the one-time event into a continual potluck series. The third ‘Mama’s Cookin’ potluck took place on Friday, May 25. From Lebanon to Sweden, here’s a look back at some of the national dishes that we shared.

A plate of food representing the diverse nationalities of people that work at Overland, including Kansas-style mashed potatoes, southern shrimp and grits, and mole from Mexico. From tortillas to sweet potato pie, employees were encouraged to bring a dish representative of where they grew up.

(Left to right:) Architectural interns Jenn Peterson Ruiz, Italia Aguilera and Raheel Ahmad pose for a photo before serving themselves a plate of food. Aguilera honored her Mexican heritage by bringing a plate of mole. Ahmad, originally from Pakistan, brought a dish of chicken biryani to share.

The dishes represented a variety of countries, including Pakistan, India, Mexico, the Mediterranean, and the United States.

Overland employees sit outside in the company courtyard to enjoy the variety of multicultural dishes.

A Tres Leches cake sits on the table as a nod to one employee’s Mexican heritage. Similar to an angel food cake, this Mexican dessert is made with whipped egg whites in the batter make it light. Once the cake is done baking, holes are poked through it and then evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, and whole milk are added.

A close up photo shows the Mexican mole dish brought by Aguilera. “Mole is a very traditional dish from Mexico,” Aguilera said. “My mom makes it all the time. We typically eat it with tortillas and red rice. There’s always mole in my house. Mole just screams ‘home’ to me.”

Architect Michelle Stedman puts the finishing touches on her Thai Laarb Chicken Lettuce wraps. “I’m Thai and wanted to bring a taste of home to the office while being health conscious at the same time,” Stedman said.

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