In Australia, more than five million tonnes of food ends up as landfill each year (enough to fill 9000 Olympic-sized swimming pools). Meanwhile, nearly four million people in Australia are experiencing food insecurity.
They’re alarming stats, and Kate Richards and Joel Tisato want to do something about it. The Africola staff members – Richards is a waiter and Tisato the sous chef – are launching a new pop-up dinner series to combat food waste and food poverty.
“We’ve been in hospo for a long time now, so we’ve both been itching to do our own project – but something that’s less about us and more about other people,” says Richards, who was inspired by Auckland initiative Everybody Eats.
While she was brainstorming her own project, Tisato was inspired to start an inclusive community dinner series like the communal cook-ups in Hobart’s Legacy Park. They put their heads together and the result is Share, a pay-as-you-feel restaurant concept that’ll pop up every Monday beginning on March 16. The first dinner will be held at Africola, with Tisato on the pans. Other chefs volunteering their time for future dinners are Will Doak from Orso and Josh Lansley and Cal Stuart-Bishop from Aces.
The team has partnered with OzHarvest, which will donate salvaged food waste each Saturday. The chefs will then create a menu based on those ingredients and topped up with produce purchased from local butchers and other suppliers. “The idea is for the majority of the food to be rescued,” says Tisato. “It’s not feasible to form a menu solely off the rescued food, because you don’t know what you’re going to get.”
Richards says the three-course meal will always begin with a soup or dip before a “hearty, nutritious” main and a dessert. “We’ll always have a vegetarian option, but we can’t really cater to dietaries outside of that because of the nature of using rescued food,” she says.
“The way I want the menus to run is for them to be … nourishing, approachable, homely – but executed by the best chefs in Adelaide,” adds Tisato.
Members of Adelaide’s vulnerable communities – such as those sleeping rough or experiencing food insecurity – can eat for free. Others can choose to pay however much they want. Crucially, those who can afford to pay for their meal will be contributing towards ingredients for the following week’s dinner.
“We want to stress that it’s really important for those people to come as well – they won’t be taking away, they’ll actually be giving,” says Richards. “It can’t become a soup kitchen. We’re aiming for a 50/50 split. The point is you’re going to sit across from someone who’s vulnerable and have a conversation with them.”
“The three main outcomes are to give the vulnerable community an opportunity to have a dining experience they wouldn’t normally be able to have ... to use rescued food and to integrate community from all walks of life, sitting down together, acknowledging each other,” says Tisato.
“And having the exact same experience,” adds Richards. “No one can buy anything. Everyone will get the same [food], everyone will get tap water. There’ll be no alcohol, and nothing to buy.”
The pair have partnered with Hutt St Centre development and partnerships manager Michael Francis to ensure word spreads. “He’s helping us reach people … and helping facilitate them to come down,” says Richards. “We’re hoping word-of-mouth will spread to people who don’t use their facilities as well.”
The first Share dinner is on March 16 from 6pm to 8pm at Africola. Walk-ins only.