My first interaction with OzHarvest occurred in my final year of school, where each week we would be treated to an inspirational talk by a guest speaker on a noteworthy topic or issue. Ronni Kahn, the brains and creator behind OzHarvest happened to be our weekly guest one week. I was really inspired by her speech; filled with such passion and intelligence yet with so much logic underlying her idea.
Having originated from a corporate background in events management and planning, she noticed the vast amount of food that was discarded after her successful events. I remember always seeing the bright Yellow OzHarvest vans zooming around the city, and had briefly heard of the organisation that salvages leftover food from events, restaurants and organisations of all kinds, to avoid wastage.
I, myself, hate seeing food go to waste. There are so many people in need across the world, that when perfectly good food is thrown away unnecessarily I find it so disappointing! The vast amount of wastage I see just by working in the hospitality industry is insane plus how much landfill it contributes to is saddening, especially when someone else less fortunate than us could enjoy it!
To me, Ronni is pure genius, with such a brilliant idea to begin saving food and distributing it to those less fortunate in homeless shelters or on the street, it is no wonder she has become incredibly successful and respected across the nation! As a woman, she is a role model, having also championed for changing laws that inhibited contributors from donating their excess food to the organisation.As apart of of Sydney’s annual SMH Good Food Month during October, OzHarvest is partnering with a series of amazing chefs from around Sydney to host a series of ten KitchenTable dinners. The tickets from each dinner will use proceeds to help deliver an additional 300 – 400 meals to feed those less fortunate. The headquarters in Alexandria set the scene for the delicious three course dinner which was the first of many intimate dinners held over the month.For the series of dinners, Handpicked is supplying a selection of amazing wines including Prosecco, Riesling, Pinot Noir whilst Balter XPA is the beer of choice, and Vittoria has the after dinner coffee and tea sorted! With Prosecco in hand, we enjoyed some of Rockpool’s chargrilled eggplant on crisps as a snack while we mingled enjoying our pre dinner bites.
Tonight’s meal was hosted by Rockpool Bar & Grill’s head chef Corey Costelloe in partnership with OzHarvest head chef Travis Harvey. Other chefs originate from famous restaurants such as Acme, Bennelong, Icebergs, Otto, Ash St Cellar and Nomad, to name a few. With Rockpool being one of my ultimate favourite Sydney restaurants, I was extra lucky to be in for such a delicious dinner! After introductions from the chefs we also heard about their newest apprentice who was introduced by Ronni and was tonight for the first time in chef’s whites, just like the big dogs in the kitchen!Using the leftover’s from Rockpool’s kitchen, the first course consisted of a Fiji inspired dish of Kokonda of Yellowfin Tuna and coconut. The raw sashimi tuna was fresh with a gorgeous rosy pink hue, it was dressed with a tantalising citrus dressing and drizzled with light coconut milk. In light of the recent warm summer weather, it was the perfect way to start the balmy evening.Next up was a Green vegetable salad using the recycled greens from Rockpool’s daily produce supply. Thinly sliced zucchini, bright baby green spinach, mint leaves, and blanched green beans proved healthy and delightful. The salad was finished with crumbled walnuts that added a welcomed crunchy texture and sprinklings of feta, together enhancing the overall combination.Whilst the next dish wasn’t overly visually appealing, the flavour exploded off the plate with huge intensity. The Crisp beef with vegetables takes the meat from between the ribs of the animal, and cooks, and recooks it to yield a flavoursome and tasty dish. This cut was tender, fatty and rich, assuming a deep meaty flavor thanks to the constant cooking down. Bits of roasted cauliflower, carrot, red and brown onion along with fresh herbs from the OzHarvest garden, allowed the dish to burst with flavour in my mouth.The Pork Belly, chargrilled corn and smoked chilli with pica de gallo salsa was the crowd pleaser of the night. Bits of pork belly with crispy crackling skin sat on a bed of creamy corn. The corn had been smoked and chargrilled over Rockpool’s famed grill, then blended up into a smoky mix of spiced corn bits and corn puree. Finished off with the addition of the tomato, onion, olives and herbs in the salsa, just like the previous dishes, the abundance of flavour was explosive!Rockpool chef Corey, boasted about how the kitchen reuses the brioche bread and buns from their burgers, in the most adventurous ways possible when it comes to staff meals. One such avenue is via the bread dumplings made by their in house Italian chef who he had borrowed for the night to recreate them for us! Soft, moist yet filling dumplings sat in a pool of passata topped with a scattering of parmesan cheese. Just as promised these were addictively good, with a subtle sweetness derived from the brioche, they were enchanting!No meal is complete without a sweet ending. OzHarvest chef Travis explained the kitchen’s recent operation had left them with a surplus of egg whites. The day before their in-house apprentices had created a collection of meringues that were used today to create an Eton mess reminiscent dessert. Described as Meringue, pistachio, berries & mascarpone, the scent of strawberries instantly circulated the table once the dessert was placed down. Almost too pretty to eat it was dressed with lovely rose petals and edible flowers. Sweet rich creamy mascarpone layered on the crunchy meringue and pistachio nuts, and pink berries everywhere!
We all left stuffed to the brim but also with a sense of contentment that tonight’s incredible meal was produced using recycled food that may have otherwise gone to waste. I highly recommend buying a ticket to one of these amazing dinners if you can, the food and cause is definitely worth every cent!
OzHarvest KitchenTable dinner series
October 10-14 & 17-21
3 courses including wine $200pp
100 per cent of proceeds will go directly to OzHarvest, with each dinner providing an additional 16,000 meals to those in need.
I Ate My Way Through dined as a guest of OzHarvest