International cookbook created by call centre staff raises thousands for charity

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AN international cook book containing recipes from 21 countries, and produced by an Edinburgh contact centre, is raising thousands of pounds for Children 1st.

The 600 employees of Sykes contact centre in Calder Road have already hit £4000 of their £5000 target, having sold books as far afield as Amsterdam, Romania, Cairo and Nigeria.

And now the book is rapidly gaining a following among those looking to cook interesting food on a budget as well as exotic delicacies.

Because Sykes operates customer support lines for many large international firms from its Edinburgh base and answers multilingual queries from callers across the globe, around 85 per cent of the contact centre staff who provided the recipes are from overseas. The dishes reflect the economies and staple foods of countries including America, Argentina, Belgium, Chile, Egypt, Finland, Greece, Germany, Iran, Italy, Nigeria, Norway, the Netherlands, Romania, Malta, Poland, Russia and Spain, as well as the UK.

Sykes’ Alice Wilson said Children 1st had come up with the “Dragon’s Glen” fund-raising challenge for Scottish businesses to turn £500 into £5000. “An international cook book seemed a great idea with our staff profile. Scottish entrepreneur and businesswoman Judy Wagner was our mentor and Scotmid gave us £500 sponsorship which got us off to a great start.

“People in Scotland nowadays are very adventurous about the meals they will eat and try to cook, and food is a great bridge between people, helping understanding about different cultures. At £5, the book is affordable as well as helping Children 1st.”

Recipes vary from Argentinian “matambre” (a beef roll stuffed with egg and spinach) to Chilean “humitas” an extremely flavoursome dish based on corn and onions. From the US comes ham and cheese macaroni, and from England, traditional rice pudding. Scotland’s contribution is a new semifreddo take on cranachan.

Alice said: “Child welfare is very much a part of Sykes in Edinburgh.

“We work very closely with local schools including Sighthill Primary so the staff are really motivated to contribute their effort and because we work in an international arena, this wee book is selling all round the world!”

The Multicultural Cookbook is available from Dobbies, and from Children 1st online at

An electronic version, which costs just £3, is available from

• The Dragon’s Glen final is on February 20, when Sykes will discover if its bestseller has won the challenge.