Collections > Electronic Theses and Dissertations > Vimala Cooks Everybody Eats: Domesticity, Community, and Empowerment

Nearly once a week for 12 years, Vimala Rajendran, joined by her husband, and volunteers, hosted Indian community dinners out of her home to approximately175 donation-paying guests. In June of 2010, Vimala opened a restaurant, Vimala's Curryblossom Cafe, in downtown Chapel Hill, relocating her underground kitchen, community, volunteers, and family helpers to a more formal place of business. This thesis addresses how through her dinners, Vimala constructed a "purposeful domesticity" and examines how in her home kitchen and restaurant kitchen she creates shifting and multiple visions of "home" through food, community, and expressions of "creative ethnicity." Vimala's transition from an underground economy to a public local restaurant provides an example for an investigation of the possibilities and hardships of sustaining an alternative, feminist, community-supported economy.