On Monday night the Cellar Door Wine Festival (CDWF) social media ambassadors (yes, that includes me) headed to the OzHarvest kitchen in Goodwood for a bit of hands-on food prep for charities across Adelaide.
OzHarvest is a ‘food rescue’ charity. This means that it collects perishables and distributes them immediately to charities who can these use these foods in either food preparation or as already prepared meals. The Adelaide Convention Centre (home of the CDWF) has had a close relationship with OzHarvest since its 2011 beginnings here in SA (OzHarvest is a national charity which was started in Sydney) and, in addition to donations from its day to day business, the leftovers from the CDWF’s Farmers’ Market are donated to OzHarvest when the festival closes.
We took part in one of OzHarvest’s new initiatives: Cooking for a Cause. The Cooking for a Cause sessions are, essentially, team building exercises that allow participants to give something back. A group of up to 10 people gathers in the OzHarvest kitchen and does some food prep. Typically, there is a lot of chopping and stirring and, at the end of the session the food goes out to charities in Adelaide (of course, some can be held back for lunch for the participants too!).
On Monday Tze Khaw, Executive Chef at the Adelaide Convention Centre, took us through our paces. The efficiency of the procuring staff at the ACC was on show – with most ingredients arriving pre-chopped – so we didn’t have to do too much work! Although I did roughly chop some coriander …
We prepped a vegetable and lentil curry, to be served with couscous. The meal we prepared was going out, in portions, to about 100 people across Adelaide on Tuesday. I was surprised that such a large number of portions could be made out of what seemed like relatively small quantities of ingredients. For example, the curry used just a 500g tin of lentils (and quite a lot of veggies, admittedly) and Chef Tze prepped just one 1kg of couscous.
Chef Tze passed on some useful cooking hints – pointing out that in a professional kitchen a stock pot would be kept on the go the whole time to make use of vegetable offcuts, and showing us a way of washing coriander (and spinach, and other leaf vegetables) to ensure that it’s grit free (basically, rinse the prepared leaves in a bowl of clear water and pull them out from the top of the bowl into another bowl of clear water).
Listening to Hayley from OzHarvest discuss the stats on food wastage was rather depressing and certainly serves as a wake up call, both in terms of how much we might waste ourselves (yes, sad half bunch of coriander loitering in the bottom of the fridge, I’m looking at you) but also how privileged most of us are.
Little sermon over!
If you’re a corporate or social group and are interested in Cooking for a Cause, get in touch with OzHarvest (in Adelaide, ring (08) 8162 9553 or email firstname.lastname@example.org). If you’re looking for a Christmas present for a food mad friend, you can buy the OzHarvest Cookbook. And, of course, the team at OzHarvest will always welcome additional volunteers!