After our regular Innocent Packaging team volunteering night we sat down with Jamie, Head Chef at Everybody Eats, to talk about his passion for reducing food waste, feeding the vulnerable and volunteering with Everybody Eats.
Having the opportunity to work alongside Jamie in the kitchen means you’ll not only gain invaluable hospitality skills but also learn about food waste and witness first-hand Jamie’s inspirational dedication to Everybody Eats. Don’t worry about never having worked in a kitchen before, Jamie is a great teacher.
Can you please tell me how you got involved in Everybody Eats?
A few hospitality friends suggested it to me 4 1/2 years ago. So jumped on board with my staff and friends from the food truck community. A couple of years later, I received a call from Nick asking if I was interested in taking the head chef role for the Onehunga restaurant and the rest is history.
In your opinion, what makes Everybody Eats so special to you?
All our wonderful volunteers firstly. Secondly, it has allowed me to create the kitchen culture I craved growing up in hospitality a place of nurture, coaching and kindness.
What is the thought process behind creating your meals?
In all honesty my ADHD & my food memories growing up. I want to share those special moments with our diners and share the story of the menu. Taking into account the different skill levels of my volunteers.
Where do you source your food from?
Kiwiharvest, Fair Food, Kaibosh are our main contacts but we have a huge following of food businesses and startups who donate. Little Island and Fix & Fogg are a couple of favourites of mine.
Let’s talk about Food waste. Why is it important to you to reduce food waste?
For me, it's about learning what is edible and going against the grain of what assume we can't eat. Growing up we had a very old school upbringing if you didn't finish your plate you go to bed hungry or don't get seconds. So the importance of food for me has always been in my mind. Before I was adopted we grew up very food insecure so I've always shown food the respect it deserves. When you've experienced an empty belly in life your appreciation of food and where it comes from becomes a part of you.
What have been your most memorable highlights from working with Everybody Eats so far?
We managed to make 4000 meals for our vulnerable communities with Papatūānuku Kōkiri Marae, Blue Light and Wright Family Foundation. During the lockdown, we worked alongside Ted X and created 3000 meals for the patrons. We have created a sausage using only fish frames with author Carolien Niebling at Clooneys restaurant, and finally seeing the faces on our diners knowing we've made their day.
Has working at Everybody Eats inspired any change in your day to day life and if so can you tell us what changes you have made?
We have reduced our meat intake to be more sustainable. We eat only high welfare meat if we do. We support farmers and local markets. We compost and make mulch. We don't peel our veggies instead we give them a scrub and even my partner has become a master of making leftovers into a delicious new meal.
Can you briefly run through what a volunteer might expect to do when they come to Everybody Eats?
For the kitchen prep team, we start at noon and I run a brief of what we are creating, why and the how-to. We spend time doing jobs as a group and mini culinary masterclasses. For kitchen service, I give a brief on the dishes that we've created and the story behind them and straight into dinner service with plenty of laughs.