Australia wastes a lot of food.

I distinctly recall an incident that happened several months ago which really brought this fact home for me. Having run out of Lindt Chilli Dark chocolate one cold and ‘chilli‘ night (see what I did there?), I ran to my local supermarket around 11.30pm as any other self-respecting chocolate worshiper would do and immediately proceeded to the confectionery aisle. I happened to pass the bakery section on my way and was hit with a sudden and disconcerting thought– what happened to the mountains of leftover bread at the end of each night? It was practically midnight and I wondered what would happen to the hundreds of gorgeous, crusty buns sitting on the shelves when the hand struck 12. Upon querying the baker, I was told it would all be thrown away. I was not only outraged but completely gutted. I had always assumed that good food was destined to be eaten; there are thousands of homeless, starving people roaming the streets of Sydney and the possibility that perfectly good bread was being thrown out rather than being distributed where it was needed had never crossed my mind. Call me an idealist but when hundreds of loaves are being thrown out each night while thousands of people starve right next door, that’s a problem.

So what’s the solution? Why, OzHarvest of course.

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Those little yellow vans you see gallivanting around Australia are more than just little rays of sunshine. They rescue leftover commercial food every single day and deliver it to those who would otherwise go to bed hungry tonight. I’ve always been a massive fan of OzHarvest so when I was invited to attend their first ever Table For 10  warehouse launch a few nights ago,  I couldn’t type “yes, oh my lord, yes!” fast enough.

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The setup was absolutely breathtaking. For the past 10 years, they’ve been operating out of a tiny, little office in Alexandria and thanks to the generosity of Goodman Group Australia, were finally able to move into a large warehouse that could host all of their activities and logistics. Candles, flowers, a long, rustic timber table and green planters aplenty all worked together to transport us from a simple, old warehouse to a gorgeously cosy dinner party.

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The CEO of OzHarvest, Ronni Kahn

After checking out their mini-garden, bursting with all sorts of herbs and edible tidbits, we were escorted back to the dinner table to begin official proceedings. Except it didn’t really feel official. It felt like home and I loved it.

Ronni, the founder and CEO of OzHarvest welcomed us and told us a bit about OzHarvest’s various programs (because you know, saving 30 million meals and 9 million kilos of food from going to landfill since their inception in 2004 clearly isn’t amazing enough).  They have three aims: to rescue, educate and engage. Their pilot Nourish program mentors and trains disadvantaged youth, in partnership with TAFE Sydney, to provide them with pathways to employment in the food and hospitality industry. Alex Flevill, one of the Nourish trainees, was cooking for us under the guidance of chef Travis Harvey in OzHarvest’s brand-spanking new kitchen.

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Nourish trainee, Alex

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Our chef for the night, Travis Harvey

Which brings us to the most important part of the night (apart from all the world-saving and whatnot): the food.

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All I’m going to say is this: tomato confit. THE tomato confit. The tomato to beat all tomatoes.

But like seriously, the tomato confit resting beneath the drool-inducing 8-hour roasted lamb shoulder and served with the most delicately spiced pistachio pilaf you will ever taste in your life was enough to send me to Food Heaven that night.

Not only did my vegetarianism become null and void on the back of that moist, perfectly roasted lamb (apologies to all vegetarians out there–resistance was futile), I also learned that the only thing better than falafel was spring pea falafel resting in an almond-dukkah encrusted, preserved lime hummus (lime and hummus? YOLO, baby). Main was accompanied by a wonderfully light and refreshing artichoke salad that left me begging for more greens and those labne and flaky home-baked pitabreads on arrival? *drools*
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But if entree and main didn’t leave you begging for more, dessert sure did. Cardamom pannacotta with poached rhubarb and a black sesame caramel. I really don’t think I need to say anymore.

I was lucky enough to be seated next to OzHarvest’s General Manager who apart from being a wonderfully interesting chap to chat to, used to be a partner in a law firm prior to joining OzHarvest as a volunteer and eventually being asked to manage the organisation full-time. Such is the power of the organisation– it attracts incredible people from all walks of life and backgrounds.

So in a nutshell,  the food was amazing, the setup was amazing,  the company was amazing, OzHarvest is amazing and Virgin Mobile is amazing. Oh did I mention Virgin Mobile? Every time someone tags #mealforameal through their social media channels, Virgin Mobile will donate to OzHarvest so they can deliver a real meal to someone in need. Virgin is aiming to deliver 400,000 meals through this campaign so to all you foodies out there (and people who just like to take photos of their dinner), get hashtagging!

Tag @ozharvest & #mealforameal.

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OzHarvest was established in 2004 and is the first perishable food rescue organisation in Australia collecting quality excess food from commercial outlets and delivering it, direct and free of charge, to 500 charities providing much needed assistance to vulnerable men, women and children across Sydney, Adelaide, Brisbane, Gold Coast, Melbourne and Newcastle. To find out more, visit their website at ozharvest.org.

OzHarvest Table For 10 Dinners
Date:
Mon-Fri from 13 – 24 October
Time:
7pm – 10pm
Location:
OzHarvest HQ, Warehouse G3/G4, 46-62 Maddox St, Alexandria, NSW
Cost:
$150 (inc of GST)
Book via Eventbrite http://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/table-for-10-ozharvest-hq-tickets-12964241395?aff=eorg
Or call 1800 108 006 to speak with Events Team or email [email protected]

I Ate My Way Through dined as a guest of OzHarvest