THOSE who question the purpose of a food workshop only had to put their head around the door of bakery47 on Glasgow's Victoria Road one morning last week.

Sharing ideas, swapping stories and exchanging choice slices of freshly baked bread, a group of 20 sat around a long table and gave the latest initiative in the CCA public engagement programme the thumbs up.

Earlier this year the Evening Times focused on the work of the Sauchiehall Street based Centre for Contemporary Arts and profiled the plans of newly recruited public engagement curator Viviana Checchia to work with communities across the city, building bridges and forging links that will hopefully change the way many think of art.

Auticulture Network, a gardening and nature appreciation group, formed by and for autistic adults family and carers, got in touch and the get together at bakery47, hosted by owners Sam and Anna Luntley, is the result.

The aim was to create the quintessential Glasgow Loaf but that was easier said than done, according to Viviana.

“After many conversations we agreed that experimenting with different breads would be more relevant and would be acknowledging the different cultures present  in the city,” she says.

“We must acknowledge the diversity of Glasgow. So bakery47 in collaboration with Auticulture Network set up the workshop in the best way: Sam and Anna invited us to bake soda bread with a standard recipe and we could each choose different ingredients so everyone was making their own version of a different soda bread though based on the exact same recipe.

She added: “Some of the people here have enjoyed the creative input, and that’s all part of the cooking process, it’s an empowering feeling that everyone can be a cook.

“Meanwhile others started a conversation with me about food production in Glasgow. The event has worked on lots of different levels. Everyone enjoyed the conviviality of it.
“The Cooking Pot programme is based on the multiculturalism of food production within Glasgow."

Rita McCabe, 68, of Dennistoun, came along with her son Mark, who is involved with Auticulture Network, and said she found the morning absolutely fascinating.

"We have been shown how to mix the dough and make the bread. These are things I have never done because I don't bake," she says.

"You see it getting made from scratch. I'm going to go home and make some soda bread now. It's not as difficult as you would think to make.

"It has been a great crowd, everyone has gelled together well. This is the first time I have been here, I didn't even know it existed.

"I would definitely come back to one of these workshops. I think it will appeal to a lot of people, especially students, people who eat healthily and are interested in what goes into their food."

Meanwhile community worker Claire Aufhammer, 24, from Possilpark, hope to take back much she has learned to set up her own cooking projects.

"I really enjoy food and we're thinking about how we can start something with our neighbours as a way of getting them back into employment, maybe some kind of social enterprise or baking initiative," she says.

"We watched how to make a sourdough loaf and Sam very kindly gave us some of his sourdough starter kits to take home and make our own.

"I have a notebook full of tips I've picked up. I just love baking so anything I can learn I soak up."

Part of the Cooking Pot initiative set up by Viviana, the bakery workshop is just one of many events being held across the city this autumn.

Still to come is the Harvest Moon Market at the Project Café in Renfrew Street on September 26 and 27, a collaboration with local food initiatives exploring the idea of thoughtful, healthy eating.

And back at bakery47 on September 28, Chinese Baking with Ricefield Chinese arts and cultural centre, learning about the symbolic importance, styles, flavours and skills involved in making mooncakes, buns eaten during the Mid-Autumn Festival.

There is the chance to learn how to make the perfect cuppa at bakery47 on October 12 with Auticulture Network and Tchai Ovna teahouse.

And the season finishes on October 13 at CCA with the city's "freegan" community gathering food for a special performance banquet.

"The Cooking Pot programme is based on the multiculturalism of food production within Glasgow," says Viviana.