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Sush: Cooking with Salt, Pepper, and Love!

June 6, 2024

Sush posing on a balcony

Sush is a wonder woman. She cooks delicious meals for The 519’s food programs, fashions vibrant dresses, and loves with all her heart. A doting mommy to her colleagues, she’ll often save dal and puris in the kitchen for them. Her presence and cooking bring immense joy. 

Growing up in Fiji, Sush learned to cook from her mother and sew from her father who owned a tailoring store. “My mum and I would make and sell papadums. We also once catered for 500 people at a backyard wedding,” she recalls. 

Moving to Canada in 2002, Sush faced the challenges of settling in a new country, but soon found her community and chosen family. She became friends with Yasmeen, the Coordinator of Trans Programs at The 519, whom she met at Club 120.  

During the pandemic, Sush lost her job and was unemployed for almost a year. “Round about the same time, I bumped into Yasmeen who invited me to join The 519 Trans People of Colour Project (TPOC) as a peer.” This opportunity led Sush to The 519, where she began cooking and sharing meals with other trans folks of colour, while supporting the community in various ways. She soon began supporting The 519’s food security initiatives, cooking for the Frozen Meals and various meal programs. 

“It doesn’t matter who’s cooking – food always brings people through the door.”

“Food is also an opportunity to share a key part of our culture with others,” she says. Sush’s pav bhaji, dosas, chole-puri, tacos, and Thai dishes are among the best. “It’s salt, pepper, and love that truly makes food delicious.” 

Sush’s love for dancing, inspired by Bollywood movies and stars like Sridevi (a queer icon in her own right), is also well known in the community. Her first performance was on the open stage at Crews and Tangos in 2003. Since then, there’s been no turning back. She has performed at queer South Asian parties like Besharam, Mela, and Rangeela, at Pride Toronto, and World Pride 2014. Her stage name ‘Sushmita’ is inspired by a complement she received from an admirer: “Wow, you look like Sushmita Sen (Indian actress and Miss Universe 1994)!” 

Sush brings more to the dance floor by designing her own outfits. Her looks for Pride 2024 are inspired by Netflix’s period drama, Heeramandi. 

Photo collage of Sush at World Pride 2014. She is wearing a red Indian ghagra choli and performing.

(Above: Sushmita performing at World Pride 2014)

Sush brings more to the dance floor by designing her own outfits. Her looks for Pride 2024 are inspired by Netflix’s period drama, Heeramandi. 

Whether as a lead cook or community member, Sush radiates joy and gives back in many ways. “I owe it all to my family and friends, to party organizers who saw my talent, and those who’ve supported my journey,” she says, emphasizing the importance of community support for trans people. 

“Trans people often don’t have the backing of family; they rely on programs and spaces like TPOC and Meal Trans where they can find affirmation and community. Let’s continue to create more joy for trans people by supporting them.” 

Sush continues to honour the memory of her late parents through her food and fashion. As for dancing, it’s her way of affirming her beautiful self and spreading joy, one step at a time. 


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Words and photos by Dean Lobo