This is Shawn’s Meaningful Food Story on his Grandma’s biryani.
Shawn was born in Sri Lanka and now lives in New Zealand.
I met Shawn in September 2015 at Auckland University of Technology, when I gave a guest lecture to his Spatial Design class. Their project for the semester was related to food spaces and food events, and the lecturer invited me to talk about In Search of Meaningful Food. When I participated to one of the crits few weeks later, I was mesmerised by this young gentleman’s work, because the concept for his project was related to memories and meaningful food. Turns out that Shawn recognised himself in my work, and felt this approach to Design was the one he too should embrace. Finally two weeks ago I participated to the student’s final presentation, and Shawn’s project had grown into a complete, cohesive project for a temporary pop-up restaurant that showcases Sri Lankan’s recipes and food culture. You can see images of his project in his Instagram account @eatingwithhands.
I’ve learnt that Shawn is gifted with incredible sensitivity which allows him to see things from multiple perspectives and work with empathy. I knew he would definitely have a meaningful food story, and when I approached him asking if he wanted to participate in this project, he was very happy to do it. Sure enough his story was beautiful; when he talks about his grandmother and this dish, the emotions are clear on his face.
Thank you Shawn for this beautiful Meaningful Food Story, thank you to your mum Romy who cooked this dish for this video, and thank you to your beautiful grandmother Jeanne for inspiring this wonderful meaningful food.