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Behind the Scenes with OzHarvest – COP21 Canberra

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.

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.

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!).

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.

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.

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”?

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.

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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