British Columbia

Avalon Hotel crock pot cooking class brings taste of home to Downtown Eastside

Vancouver charity The Whole Way House is bringing the taste of home cooking to Avalon Hotel SRO residents, teaching them how to cook with a crock pot.

Vancouver SRO residents learned how to create simple, healthy meals with donated crock pots

Tamesh Sukhraj and Jay Prokopf enjoy a crock pot cooking class taught by Dirty Apron chef David Robertson. (Margaret Gallagher)

Vancouver charity The Whole Way House is sharing the feeling of home cooking with residents of the Downtown Eastside's Avalon Hotel — by teaching them how to cook with a crock pot.

The Whole Way House runs the single room occupancy hotel, where several residents recently learned how to make a Moroccan lamb stew in a class taught by The Dirty Apron's chef and owner David Robertson. The classes run once a month, and The Dirty Apron supplies the groceries, equipment, and the crock pots. 

"This is a meal that they can go home now and invite their neighbour over and say, 'Do you want to have dinner together?'" Jenny Konkin, president and co-founder of Whole Way House, said in an interview with The Early Edition.

"So it's a really great shared experience."

Crock pots are a safe and easy way for residents to make home-cooked meals, and the classes teach everything from knife safety to how to shop for ingredients, said Konkin.

'Teach a person to cook...'

Jay Prokopf, who moved into the Avalon Hotel several months ago, says his ex-wife used to do most of the cooking. Using a crock pot is relatively new to him.

"It's been a long time [that] I've been away from the kitchen," he said as he chopped up carrots.

"Usually it's more fast food and ready-made food and microwave food. I'm good on the microwave."

Dan Pearce, who has lived in the Avalon Hotel for five years, says using a crock pot is a good idea because he gets to learn how to put ingredients together and use spices properly.

"It's a good thing to know because a lot of guys here don't cook, a lot of them eat out," he said.

"My grandmother always taught me, give a person a meal, they'll eat one day. Teach a person how to cook, they'll eat forever."

David Robertson's Moroccan Lamb Shank

(Serves 2)


  • 900g 1 ½ - inch thick lamb shank
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 tsp. coriander seed (crushed)
  • 50g red onion (diced)
  • 40g fresh ginger (minced)
  • 30g turmeric
  • 2 garlic cloves (minced)
  • 100 ml. honey
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 cups water (use more if needed)
  • Pinch of crushed chilies
  • Salt and pepper
  • 250g red nugget potato (whole)
  • 200g carrots (large dice)


  1. In a crock pot add all the ingredients and turn on high.
  2. Allow crock pot to braise lamb shanks to become tender for approximately five to six hours. Serve with rice, pasta or couscous.

To hear more about the crock pot cooking class at the Avalon Hotel, click on the audio labelled: Crock pot cooking class brings taste of home to Downtown Eastside SRO. 

With files from Margaret Gallagher