Meet the team at YOU CAN COOK and discover what makes us sizzle.

YOU CAN COOK demonstration Alex Wilson and eager cooks Alex Wilson

Bosco Santimano

Bosco Santimano,
Executive Director

I was born in Bombay, India to a family of migrants from Goa. My passion for food was developed early as I was surrounded by family and friends who excelled in home cooking from a wide range of cuisines.

My career has been very varied and full of excitement as I always looked for new challenges.

I love reading, music, good films and being an organiser of various events that I do within the community to create awareness of issues that I believe should be of public interest. Malawi Fundraiser, Diwali-The Festival of Lights, Arthouse Film Nights are some of the successeful events hosted in Peebles in the last few years with active support from the local community.

Iana Bejaniyska

Iana Bejaniyska,

My favourite heirlooms are a rolling pin and a tattered cookery book. One has come down from my great grandmother on my dad’s side of the family, the other from my mum’s mum. Baking’s always been a favourite: the whole idea of getting stuck in a mess of flour and ending up with a perfect looking pita or a lovely cheese pastry. My mum always used me as chief consultant in preparation for the big religious festivals in Bulgaria where I grew up, also big occasions for baking.

When I was eight she allowed me to grow my own produce on the balcony of our city flat. My friends and family, as well as my kids’ friends, know that salad is my favourite food. My first salads were made with bucket-raised tomatoes and yoghurt pot grown spring onions. When the peppers in the old basin ripened, there were more opportunities to get creative. To this day one of my favourite pastimes is strolling in open-air markets in hot places. The smell of fresh fruit and veg is intoxicating and very inspiring for whipping up some of the quickest, tastiest and healthiest meals: a real feast for the senses.

Iana Bejaniyska

Paula McFadyen,

Borders born and bred, I returned to my roots after living in Edinburgh for many years where I primarily worked within the fields homelessness and adult and community education. My background lies within addiction, mental health, long term health conditions, emplyability and life coaching. Not exactly applauded for my culinary skills, or my green fingers, I do have a caring and compassionate nature and a deep interest in people and waht makes them tick.

As an ageing hippy, I have a love for all things spiritual and esoteric, and I have been a healer in this field for many years, with crystals being my absolute passion.

Being creative is a fundamental part of my nature and painting and sculpting are my two favourite pastimes. I also love animals and enjoy being outdoors; so walking my two naughty whippet puppies and mountain biking (which is a relatively new and painful pastime), are tow of my favourite ways to unwind.

Mona Taylor

Mona Taylor,
Community Cook

When you come from a large Irish family cooking and feeding people is a high priority. I grew up in England with four brothers and two sisters so my mother who was an excellent cook taught me many wonderful things not only about how to prepare food but also how to organise meals around a busy family life. She was a particularly good baker and made wonderful scones and pastries that she had to hide in all sorts of places in the kitchen so my four brothers would not eat them all in one go!

I still love baking myself and do lots of it with my own family. Being Irish I also make lots of dishes with potatoes, but then you probably guessed that already. They are one of my favourite foods and my children love them too.

I moved to Scotland twenty years ago just after my parents moved back to Ireland as it was easier to “get home” to Donegal. There seems to be a strong connection between Scottish and Irish cooking and culture which sits well with me. I love using seasonal traditional Scottish foods in simple ways to feed my family and friends and above all love learning about food myself.

Alex Wilson

Alex Wilson,
Community Cook

I come from a big family that loves to eat and talk about food. We are always planning the next meal! I am a mother of two and love cooking everyday at least once. We talk about food and where it comes from all the time and sit together to eat as a family at the end of each day, usually in a hurry.

I was born in Peru and so have always tasted different food. Different to the UK but normal to Peru. We all get in to a place with our food that is secure but when we step out of the norm we get a great experience. I love to try new things especially when recommended by someone. I have lived in London for 22 years and there are so many tastes to experience there.

Eveline Nicolette

Eveline Nicolette,
Community Cook

I love the magic that happens in the kitchen when you start to play with different ingredients, colours, textures and flavours of food. For me it's about creating a feast for all the senses which others can enjoy and share in.

Having worked as a silver service waitress in some of Edinburgh's top-notch venues, I have been behind the scenes where the aim of the game is to produce deliscious looking and tasting food! I've picked up lots of tricks of the trade and I am always trying out new things.

However, one of my favourites at the moment is a big pile of pancakes drizzled with maple syrup on a lazy sunday morning... Making, creating and eating food with others can be a real celebration of life. Each person brings a special something to the mix. It's great how food invites people to come together in different ways, whether it's for birthday cake, brunch or good old beans on toast!

Heather Murray

Heather Murray,
Community Cook

I became a cook quite by accident two years ago. I’ve always done waitressing since I was a teenager then, at the age of 26 my amazing manager at No1 Peebles Road asked me if I would like the chance to help with the baking for the café. From there I started doing little bits of baking, which gradually increased to more responsibilities in the kitchen. Before long I was a cook responsible for managing half the kitchen.

I love cooking and have happy memories enjoying home cooked family meals as a child. It’s been a joy teaching my own daughter to cook and we spend lots of time in the kitchen together. We eat as healthy a diet as possible on our limited budget, striving where possible to buy organic, wholefood and gluten-free alternatives.

I think we are living in an age where highly processed, sugary foods are sadly becoming the norm and unfortunately many children are growing up on a diet that is calorie rich, but nutritionally poor. I want to teach our children how to cook and eat well so they grow up understanding where food comes from and how to prepare delicious, healthy meals on a reasonable budget.

Carl Taggart

Carl Taggart,
Community Cook

I started cooking with my mum when I was about 11 years old and always helped with the Sunday lunch and making desserts. I have always worked around food; either serving, preparing or cooking. It has always been a great passion of mine as I love to discover what flavour a combination of ingredients can create!

My favourite pastimes are spending time with my family, going out with friends and improvising with my guitar. I have always loved to be outside and active in the garden which is something I want to do for the rest if my life.

My dream in life is to teach children in care how to cook and help them learn how to keep healthy whilst promoting them to be independent. I think that working with the YOU CAN COOK team is the start of this journey and want to learn the finer skills needed to do this in a fun and interesting way. Hopefully on the way I will meet new people and learn even more about the world of food.

Alex Smithson

Alex Smithson,
Community Gardener

When I was a child, my parents let me plan a section of the garden at home and I planted roses and topiary, blossom trees and flowers. It was such a privilege to be able to shape the garden, and to watch it grow and mature. That was just the start, I've laid out a flower garden from scratch and learned to propagate my own plants. I'm currently studying for an RHS Horticulture qualification to become a professional gardener.

I love to create, and I'm always crafting something new! I try to share the magic of gardens, plants and wildlife with young volunteers in the community garden; combining the garden club's ideas and designs with good horticultural practice to learn and play in a garden setting.

It's all about the future - "Change something from the way it was before you touched it into something that's like you after you take your hands away... When people look at that tree or that flower you planted, you're there" (Ray Bradbury)

Colleen McCulloch

Colleen McCulloch,
Steering Group/Community Gardener

I love food – growing it, cooking it, and most of all eating it! My Mum and both Grannies played a big part in enthusing and teaching me about food and cooking when I was growing up, so I’ve always enjoyed having a go and trying new ideas (even though I didn’t always get it right first time). I’ve travelled and worked abroad a fair bit too, and part of the adventure for me is always trying new flavours in different places - however I think simple Scottish cooking is still my favourite. I also love being outdoors – and any excuse for a picnic!

My background is quite mixed, but involves working in the (organic) farming sector, research ecology (when I’m not in Scotland I study wild sheep in Mongolia – where the local diet involves a lot of mutton dishes!), and a number of community groups for which I’ve variously served as volunteer, steering group member and director.

I’m really excited to be joining the fantastic YOU CAN COOK team - and am looking forward to getting my hands dirty and enthusing people about growing and eating healthy, nutritious food!

Lovell Santimano

Lovell Santimano,
Office Assistant

Technophile, Gamer, Imgurian and Redditor, I love working with technology, and prefer optimism to pessimism. I'm more inclined to consume food, rather than prepare it, however I can make a delicious ham and cheese toasty! I look forward to being part of the team at YOU CAN COOK.

Emily Macinnes

Emily Macinnes,
Steering Group

Born in Edinburgh and raised in Peebles I, like many other young folk, left our wee small town as soon as I could - eager to explore the world.

At 17, I moved to Peru to live and work in a children’s home and whilst I was there I began photographing life around me. Trying to figure out what path to choose, it was then that I had an epiphany that becoming a photojournalist would be the perfect way to combine my interest in politics and sociology with my artistic instincts. Not only could I use the camera to engage with people and communities on a deep level, I could then figure out ways to creatively communicate those stories to others. Since then I have travelled to many continents, spending long periods of time overs - in Ghana, Palestine, Colombia and more recently in refugee camps in Serbia and Greece - developing my career but more importantly learning and growing deeply as a human being.

This year I made the less familiar decision to put my roots back down in Scotland in order to work on stories closer to home. Since then, I have had the joy of documenting the wonderful fruits of Bosco’s labour, in the form of community cookery classes and gardening sessions in schools and centres across the Scottish Borders. I very much look forward to being part of his trusted steering group.

Lesley MacDonald

Lesley MacDonald,
Steering Group

I prefer to keep a low profile especially when it comes to cooking! However I have a personal and professional interest in promoting health and well being so am happy to be a part of this exciting venture, and offer any support I can to YOU CAN COOK.

Lawrie Hayworth

Lawrie Hayworth,
Steering Group

Born in Leith and living in the Scottish Borders for over 15 years, and is a member of Peebles Community Council.

After gaining a science degree Lawrie worked for many years with a number of international companies before returning to run his own business in Edinburgh.

Seeking a change of direction Lawrie co-founded Bookdonors in 2005 as the first Community Interest Company based in the Borders.

Lawrie’s involvement in the development of social enterprise saw him join the Board of the newly formed Scottish Borders Social Enterprise Chamber.

Lawrie continues to be engaged in an advisory role with a number of enterprises – both local and national.

Wendy Howard

Wendy Howard,
Web Designer

The ingredients I juggle with for YOU CAN COOK are those intended to create a feast for the eyes rather than the taste buds. I'm a self-taught web designer who started off creating my own site in my spare time and things just grew from there.

Now an ex-resident of the Scottish Borders and also of the UK, I'm passionate enough about the quality of food to have gone off in pursuit of somewhere to grow most of it, organically and sustainably. The choice of location was a serendipitous accident in which Bosco and Hanisa played a large part, but also owed a lot to the paucity of available and affordable smallholdings in the UK and the restrictive laws about living on them. Not that I'm complaining – I now know what it is to have a summer again!

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