When Caveau's Tom Chiumento had the opportunity to be guest chef at a Hidden Harvest Wasted Wednesday dinner on Wednesday he enjoyed it so much he is coming back.
Mr Chiumento will not only return in a fortnight for the next Wasted Wednesday community dinner he also offered to host one with Simon Evans at Wollongong's most hatted restaurant later in the year. With 40 people lined up along Crown Street before 6pm the larger venue will mean fewer miss out.
"It was so opposite to what we normally do at the restaurant. We generally use very fresh high quality produce and also have a lot of time to come up with and test dishes. We generally talk about the cultural influence and significance of food. But there is also the environmental and social impacts. I said to founder Berbel Franse we would like to do them every six months to keep the connection between us".
Following the dinner there was a quiz and a discussion. Mr Chiumento said he learned and took a lot away from the experience. And said what the Hidden Harvest kitchen was doing was really important.
He admits not knowing what ingredients he would be working with and only coming up with a vegan menu after he arrived was a challenge. But he loved it,
The produce comes from local retailers and suppliers. It is surplus food left over that would otherwise be thrown out.
"I had no idea what I would be working with beforehand. Simon and I got there at 10.30 and started from scratch," he said.
"We tried to come up with a menu that showed the different ways we like to come up with dishes. The first was a charred cabbage. We tried to show if you put a lot of technique into using a cabbage you can make it taste really amazing. We brined it in ocean water for about two hours and then charred it over charcoals to give it a beautiful kinds of smokey salty flavour".
The second dish was a play on pasta carbonara. The pasta was made from eggplant, the bacon from mushrooms and the carbonara sauce from cauliflower.
Mr Chiumento enjoyed how people dined both to celebrate food and learn about food waste and how to reduce it. He likened the experience to being like what contestants faced with the mystery box on MasterChef. And answered a question about that from one of the diners during question at the end of the night.
First time Wasted Wednesday diner Miranda Clark said what the volunteer run Hidden Harvest was doing was a great way to reduce food waste. "It also created a conversation about how we can reduce it in our own homes. I think it is a great initiative and something that will help the environment".
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