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.

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!

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.

Mim Wright

Mim Wright,
Steering Group

I am passionate about young people (but all ages!) having the opportunity to explore outdoor life and allow life outdoors to develop their soul. Over and above observing nature, learning about food; its origins; growing and nurturing all forms (gardening and animal husbandry) is vital to my family and their education. Then exploring how to cook it! Wow!! I feel privileged to be part of local initiatives offering these fantastic opportunities to our community.

Empowering communities through organisations such as YOU CAN COOK and YOU CAN GROW has become an important part of my focus since moving to the Scottish Borders.

The learning opportunities are endless. Also crucial for future generations are the social development of key skills around food; life; healthy living and well-being.

My professional career hopped over to the not for profit sector in 2006 and continued to weave through an array of marketing, event and fundraising roles. From international organisations and more recently supporting local community activity, it is what makes me tick. It has a huge impact on my values and our family life. I will dig deep through my years’ experience supporting community development projects of all kinds and hope to do the team proud.

Thank you for having me on board!

Let us journey!

Colin Macdonald

Colin Macdonald,
Steering Group

Bringing over 15 years of experience of business management to YOU CAN COOK, I have previously owned 2 restaurants as well as owning a successful car dealership Group, Lawrence of Kemnay in Aberdeenshire.

Currently, I am on the board of Brown Brothers, Peebles where I help running of the Honda, Renault and Dacia dealerships. A lover of fine food, travel and trying to keep up with 4 kids.. a task that sadly doesn’t burn off as many calories as I eat!

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!

© YOU CAN COOK, 2007-19. YOU CAN COOK is a Community Interest Company registered in Scotland. Company Registration No: SC332980. Terms & Conditions.
HTML5 | CSS | Website by W Howard

Wooden spoon