December 11, 2015

Behind the Scenes with OzHarvest – COP21 Canberra

Behind the Scenes - COP21 Canberra - Anna Johnston, Colin Magree, Ruth Boddy and Sophia Hamblin Wang -

There’s only so many times I can write about the benefits of saving and distributing excess food, as many of you know it’s been something I’ve been doing with OzHarvest Canberra for years.

OzHarvest Canberra - Anna Johnston - Behind the Scenes - COP21 Canberra -

Peeling carrots …. Like a pro!

In fact, I may be guilty of becoming a bit obsessive about not wasting stuff, my housemates can certainly attest to that. Last weekend, I returned home with kilos of cooked smoked meaty goodness from the BBQ festival where I was a Guest Judge, my family were left to consume every last bite in one form or another over the next few nights as I presented different dishes.

OzHarvest Canberra - BBQ Festival Leftovers - Anna Johnston - www.shenannagans

How many different dishes can I prepare with all this delicious leftover smoked goodness?

Way, waaaay back when I worked at McDonalds I used to load my backpack with leftover burgers and hand them over to the homeless people who hung out by the bins at close time, not something management endorsed, but it was a bugbear of mine the way perfectly good food (I know, that’s debatable as to whether McDonalds is actually food, but that’s another story and in my ignorance back then, I meant well – right!).

Behind the Scenes - COP21 Canberra - Anna Johnston, Dave Burnet and Sophia Hamblin Wang -

2 of the most amazing people I know, OzHarvest Canberra Manager, Dave & passionate volunteer, Sophia.

A few weeks back Dave Burnet from OzHarvest Canberra called the troops in for a cooking gig at the French Embassy. We, OzHarvest chef Colin Magree, Paul Butler, some of the St Edmund’s College cooking students and a bunch of amazing volunteers were tasked with preparing a rescued food menu for the Ambassadors and other dignitaries for the Australian shadow reception for COP21 Canberra United Nations Climate Change Conference. Kind of a big deal I figured, so I hunted down my Cheffie Toolbox, sharpened my knives & begged a uniform from the Chefs at work.

6 hours of prepping beef bourguignon with Dutch carrots, potato gratin, handmade lasagna, asparagus, spinach, rocket and roasted almond salad, carrot flan with zesty pesto and Grand Marnier panettone bread and butter pudding, all from food that had been rescued from being thrown away.

OzHarvest Canberra - Kitchen - Anna Johnston and OzHarvest Friends preparing for COP21 Canberra

So many laughs as we prepped for COP21 Canberra

We arrived at the Embassy to be greeted by the French Ambassador himself, awkwardly bowing, we forgot which country we were visiting #facepalm we were taken through the gorgeous sandstone French chateau style building to a tiny kitchen where the final touches were applied.

OzHarvest Canberra - A cheeky selfie - Anna Johnston Behind the Scenes - COP21 Canberra -

Arriving at the French Embassy Cheffie & I stopped for a selfie

A little cheeky perhaps, but I rather enjoyed the fact we were feeding politicians, bureaucrats and diplomats food that would otherwise have gone to landfill. As Sophia said, food that had been tended to, fed, planted, watered, picked, sorted, packaged, transported, arranged on a shelf, discounted and then eventually discarded is devastating. Apart from not being able to fill someone’s belly with all its deliciousness; that food will eventually rot in landfill creating methane, which is pretty damn toxic.

Gee, when did I become such a “greenie”?

OzHarvest Canberra - Rescued Menu - OzHarvest - COP21 Canberra - Anna Johnston -

The delicious rescued menu – photos by Sophia Hamblin Wang

There wasn’t a bone in my body that wasn’t aching, I am one out-a-shape chef, but there really was a feel good element to being a part of the event.

OzHarvest Canberra - A cheeky selfie - Anna Johnston Behind the Scenes - COP21 Canberra -

Cheeky selfie by all the official stuff

I’d love to know, what’s your stance of feeding those less fortunate leftover fast food? And what is your go to recipe using leftovers?

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shenANNAgans is Anna Johnston, a 30 - something Aussie gal with an unwavering passion for the Hospitality industry. I love the quirky and unusual, designing events, travelling far and wide and eating food from all around the world. I am coffee blooded, a craft beer enthusiast, wine drinking yogi who enjoys writing about her adventures.

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Amelia - January 24, 2016 Reply

Well done Anna! What a great cause. I would love to know how I can get involved. I donated some food to YWCA’s Frugal Feast last year and am always involved with not for profit organisations doing good to help the community. Using left overs is a great way to prevent wastage. I also worked at McDonalds! It was my first job at 13!

    Anna - January 25, 2016 Reply

    Hey Amelia! Thanks heaps for your lovely comment, I really appreciate that. I wonder if our paths have crossed? Lots of community involvement for me too, and you were a Maccas kid too. I will send you an email with details of how you can be involved, you can go out in the van and pick up food, and I know they are always looking for folk to assist at events, manning stands, sometimes food preparation, that kind of thing. I’ll be in touch for sure.

Holly - January 23, 2016 Reply

The food looks yummy. That was really nice of you to hand out food to the homeless knowing it was going to go in the garbage anyway. Even if it was McDonalds lol

    Anna - January 23, 2016 Reply

    It was delicious Holly! 🙂 And yes, I always thought so too, even if it was Maccas, they still had something in their bellies.

Eileen - January 23, 2016 Reply

So much effort goes into producing food. I’m so happy you are as passionate about not wasting food as I am!! Great post for a great cause! xx

    Anna - January 23, 2016 Reply

    Yeah, it really does. Imagine those farmers and food producers seeing their hard work end up in the bin/land fill. SO Sad! I love that foodies (and my close foodie friends) are becoming passionate about spreading the word about utilising food, using everything or getting it to those who need it. Thank you for reading and for being a part of the solution too. You rock! xoxo

Elaine J Masters - January 23, 2016 Reply

I totally support this effort. We compost what we can’t eat at home and harvest from our backyard garden year round. I worked as a banquet server for major hotels in the NW for years and they threw out so much good food. Regulations are slowly changing towards more of a sharing economy with these leftovers thankfully.

    Anna - January 23, 2016 Reply

    You ROCK Elaine, I love hearing how people are doing their bit for the environment, and being sustainable too. We are exactly the same, we compost and eat a good amount of fruit & vegetable from the garden year round. Gah…. hotels are the worst, I started my cooking career at a major hotel chain in Canberra, Aus and the food I saw land in the bin was insulting to my senses, especially when I could have taken it home and fed my housemates who were struggling apprentices or students. You are right tho, the regulations are slowly changing, definitely in my town with the great work of services like OzHarvest.

Laura - January 22, 2016 Reply

It’s a great thing that you’re doing. I hate to see food waste. It’s sad to think that food is going to waste when there are people going hungry. I’m sure your family wasn’t too bummed to eat all that delicious BBQ either.

    Anna - January 22, 2016 Reply

    Why thank ya Laura! 🙂 I hate food wastage so much, especially when I know just how easy it is to create delicious meals with it too.
    And yes, my family were most pleased with the bounty of meat from the BBQ festival. #sogood

Gary - January 22, 2016 Reply

This is amazing not only are you helping people but also the environment. Good job!!

    Anna - January 22, 2016 Reply

    Thanks for the lovely comment Gary. I just love being able to be a part of such an amazing organisation, it’s cool knowing that my tiny involvement can essentially have such a big impact on people and the environment too. 🙂

michelle taylor - January 22, 2016 Reply

Oh I just love this and love that you served that first class crew first class food created from food that would have been discarded. Wow!
It is a brilliant idea and I am glad more and more places are letting their unwanted extra food be rescued for needy.
As a poor student I benefitted from a regular Friday drop-off to my dorm by Brumby’s bakery. It was such a blessing.

    Anna - January 22, 2016 Reply

    Yeah, it was totally rad serving food to the fancy folk that essentially would have ended up in the bin. Even cooler that they all loved it too. 🙂
    I’m totes pleased that people and places are getting on board with food rescue too. Makes my heart happy!
    Brilliant that Brumbys bakery supported struggling starving students too.

Paula McInerney - January 22, 2016 Reply

What an amazing organisation is OZharvest, and I love your attitude and positivity.Being a judge at BBQ festival , now how cool is that. I love watching BBQ pit masters, so know it would be a tough gig.

    Anna - January 22, 2016 Reply

    Thanks Paula! Yeah, OzHarvest are an awesome organisation, it is so much fun to be a part of. 🙂
    And the BBQ Festival judging was a whole bunch of fun, especially the eating smoked delicious meats for a few days after bit. LOL! I had never watched BBQ shows until I was asked to judge, quickly got into it, is wasn’t anything like that. Haha!

Hannah - January 11, 2016 Reply

I LOVE that you used the leftover Macca’s to feed the homeless! Kicking so many life goals even as a kid!

#COP21 Gosh you get to be part of so man awesome things!

    Anna - January 12, 2016 Reply

    Why thank ya little buddy! I always thought it was a pretty great thing to do, and was better than seeing the burgers piled up in the bin going to waste.
    #COP21 was one of the cooler things I got to be a part of in 2015 too, can’t wait to know what awesome is in store for this year too. 🙂

Jem @ Lost in Utensils - December 28, 2015 Reply

Fantastic work Anna! OZharvest is one of the best organisations around. Well done.

    Anna - December 28, 2015 Reply

    Thanks Jem! And yes, I totally agree, OzHarvest is absolutely one of the best organisations around. Being involved in the very small way I am, makes my heart happy. 🙂

Denise Browning@From Brazil To You - December 27, 2015 Reply

What a great opportunity, Anna! Everything looks delicious… Love, love beef bourguinon! Like you, I also don’t like to waste food. Thanks for sharing your new adventure with us.

    Anna - December 27, 2015 Reply

    It was incredidible opportunity, one of the most fun experiences I have had working in the kitchen in for ever. 🙂
    Beef Bourguinon really is delicious huh? Tis a popular dish in the cooler months in my household.
    Thanks for stopping by, I love hearing all my foodie friends around the world are big on utilising any left over food and ensuring nothing is wasted.

Yummy Lummy 2015 - December 21, 2015 Reply

[…] Behind the Scenes with OzHarvest – COP21 Canberra […]

Hotly Spiced - December 21, 2015 Reply

I love how committed you are and how you started rescuing food to give to the homeless to prevent it being discarded. That’s very admirable. I love the concept of OzHarvest and that was very good of you to work at that event. I’m sure you must have been exhausted after all that time on your feet xx

    Anna - December 23, 2015 Reply

    Thanks Charlie, I appreciate your very kind words. 🙂 OzHarvest is such a fantastic organisation, I am super lucky to be involved in the small way I am. And yes, I really have lost my kitchen fitness. LOL! Was sooooo sore after just a couple of days working in the kitchen.

Mandy - December 18, 2015 Reply

I am extremely frugal so LOVED this Anna! Wonderful!
Even though McDonalds might not be real food, you were still putting something into the tummy of a hungry person – good for you!
Love to you darling from a sweltering Sundays River.
🙂 Mandy xoxo

    Anna - December 23, 2015 Reply

    YAY! I love that you enjoyed this post my loveliest friend. 🙂 And yep, I reckon the general consensus is that Maccas may not be the best kinda food for anyone to eat, but something in ones tum is better than nothing.
    Wishing you a beautiful day and a brilliant Christmas if I dont speak with you before then. Lotsa love and hugs coming your way. xoxo

Maureen | Orgasmic Chef - December 18, 2015 Reply

What a marvelous idea to show what can be done. Would I share fast food with a homeless person? Damn right I would. WE eat fast food on occasion, most everyone does. I wouldn’t feed them fast food every day any more than I would serve it to my family but yeah, better to them than in the bin.

    Anna - December 23, 2015 Reply

    It really was a wonderful experience, and fun to showcase just how easily leftover food can be utilised to create amazing and delicious tukka. And yes, I agree re fast food, and something in ones tummy is better than nothing at all. 🙂

John/Kitchen Riffs - December 17, 2015 Reply

That sounds like a lot of work! Fun work, but still work. Really good cause, too. Way too much good food gets wasted, doesn’t it? Fun read, and I loved the pictures. Thanks!

    Anna - December 21, 2015 Reply

    Haha! It was a lot of work, mostly because I was a little unfit when it came to being in the kitchen, I was/am kitchen unfit! LOL.

    Waaaaay too much food goes to waste! It’s scary, but many years ago I made a conscious decision to be mindful of all the food that comes into my household, to ensure that everything is utilised in one way or another, but many dont consider their own impact on this huge problem.

    Anyways, I do appreciate you reading John, and glad you enjoyed the pics. 🙂

Rosemarie of Travel and Beyond - December 15, 2015 Reply

What a lovely act, Anna! I don’t think there is anything wrong in handing out leftover burgers from a fast food restaurant. You have a very kind heart!

    Anna - December 21, 2015 Reply

    What a beautiful comment Rose, thank you for saying that, heart feels activated. 🙂 And yes, I agree re fast food, it isnt healthy, but something in ones belly is better than nothing at all. 🙂

Liz (Good Things) - December 15, 2015 Reply

You are a legend, Anna… don’t you forget it! xxx

    Anna - December 21, 2015 Reply

    Thanks HEAPS Lizzy! You are pretty darn legendary yourself.
    Hope you are well my friend. Big hugs and love. xox

Elias - December 15, 2015 Reply

Love it!

And what a great message to remind everyone about just before all that food is bought and wasted over Christmas and summer holidays! Thanks for sharing Anna.

    Anna - December 21, 2015 Reply

    Thanks HEAPS Elias! I couldnt agree more re spreading the message that food wastage is a serious concern, especially at this time of year. Thanks for sharing, I really appreciate it. 🙂

Amanda (@lambsearshoney) - December 15, 2015 Reply

Well done you for your continued support of a wonderful charity – and one I’ve supported since it’s early days here in Adelaide too.
Like you, I wonder if ‘fast food’ qualifies as food at all but , also like you, I have bought it to give to the homeless. Most recently on the chilly streets of Cologne in Germany where i found a young woman huddling with her dog. I doubt she has the luxury of balancing her diet so I got her and the dog a hot feed for that night at least.

    Anna - December 21, 2015 Reply

    Thanks Amanda, I am so pleased many of my fave blog buddies are involved in their home towns too. Adelaide OzHarvest is going gang busters. 🙂

    WOW…. that is so beautiful you stopped to give back to that woman and her dog, I am most certain she and others who are homeless would not turn their nose up at the offer of free food, even if it was unhealthy.

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella - December 14, 2015 Reply

That is wonderful Anna and you guys work so hard on your feet! OzHarvest is such a wonderful charity! That last selfie of you is very sweet.

    Anna - December 21, 2015 Reply

    It really is a tops organisation, one I am super proud to be a part of. 🙂
    And yes, I felt it after the few days in the kitchen, my body hurt. HA!
    Thank you re the selfie, the fancy folk all cheered when I took that pic.

Tandy | Lavender and Lime - December 14, 2015 Reply

This is such an amazing cause and I would be a part of it if I could 🙂

    Anna - December 21, 2015 Reply

    I am sure there are similar organisations in your part of the world you could be a part of, like FoodBank South Africa. Orrrrrrr…. you could move down under and join the amazing OzHarvest team. 🙂

Mabel Kwong - December 14, 2015 Reply

It was very nice of you to get leftover food from Maccas to the less fortunate when you used to work there! But true, Maccas isn’t really food and it should be eaten in moderation. But it isn’t nice going around with an empty stomach…and we all need food to survive.

So nice of you to volunteer and prepare meals for dignitaries cooking with food that no one wanted anymore. I’m sure they all enjoyed the food you prepared. Nothing going to waste, and I’m sure everyone appreciated the efforts by all of you. And from the video, it seems that all of you knew what you were doing 😀 Hope you are well big sis and that this week will treat you well 🙂

    Anna - December 21, 2015 Reply

    That was absolutely my argument, and if I was in the same place now, I would still share the leftover Maccas with them because food is food, right?! And something in our tummies is better than nothing at all.

    Preparing a menu using rescued food was a whole bunch of fun, and a super way to get the message out about how easily delicious food can be created with minimal ingredients.

    I had a ball being back in the kitchen, the aches and pains after a few days of chopping and stirring and carrying trays of tukka were totes worth it. Ha! 🙂

    And kicking goals for sure! I do hope you are well little one, huge love and hugs headed your way. Mwah! xox

kris - December 14, 2015 Reply

Couldn’t agree more. I hate to waste food. I always thought this came about from the days in the kitchen when i use to clean back meats. All the trimmings would be weighed to see how much I wasted. It was a wonderful reminder that, it is not only about the food cost being thrown away… but also perfectly good food that could be eaten.

Wonderful read. And so in line with the climate change conferences that has just concluded. Time that we started looking towards our future, and becoming more sustainable.

    Anna - December 21, 2015 Reply

    I had totally forgotten about the post meat clean weigh in, I remember at the time being terrified of fudging it up, but we were lucky to have people training us who were able to gently remind & teach us the value of doing things correctly. Cause like you say, it’s not just the food costs, but learning how to utilise everything. Fridge pie for the win!

    As always, so pleased you enjoyed the read, it is so important we tackle the food wastage problem, especially considering just how easy a problem it is to fix.

Tim UrbanDuniya - December 14, 2015 Reply

Way to go!! I’m so proud of all this great work you’re doing – good job, friend 🙂

    Anna - December 21, 2015 Reply

    Nawh! Thank you so much my friend. I am so grateful you are a part of my world, your friendship and support is amazing. I really appreciate it, and I really appreciate you. 🙂

Krista - December 11, 2015 Reply

You are so inspiring, luv. XO I think one of the good things about living on a farm is that even if food goes past its prime, it never goes to waste. Our dogs adore “off” meat and the birds can’t get enough of old veggies and fruits.

    Anna - December 21, 2015 Reply

    WOAH! Thank you so much Krista, I really appreciate your kind words. Seeing people live their lives in the happiest possible way, like you do, reminds me to be present and enjoy all the opportunities I can. Helping out with OzHarvest is so rewarding and knowing that my small drop in the ocean has an impact really rocks too. 🙂

    I remember farm life, especially the stink from the dogs tooting after eating ‘off’ meat. LOL!

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